Lowestoft Town 2 Hendon 3
Town go missing for large spells during the second half and are dealt their first home defeat of the season, going down 3-2 to Hendon.
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Jack Ainsley, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown, Adam Smith, Okay (Cunningham 87 mins), Frew, Lee Smith, Fisk, Eagle, Woods-Garness. Subs; Stuart Ainsley, Cunningham, Otobo, Doddington, Viner
Hendon: Horlock, Seeby, Taggart (Bryan 68 mins), Flegg, Fisher, Maclaren, Diedhiou, O'Leary, Louis, Morais, Bennett. Subs; McCluskey, Rankin, Lobjoit, Bryan, Murray
After defending well in tricky first half conditions, Lowestoft Town go missing for large spells during the second half and are dealt their first home defeat of the season, going down 3-2 to Hendon.
The Crown Meadow pitch was in fantastic condition and testimony to the great work the groundsman does all season long.
Lowestoft made one change from their draw at Wingate and Finchley with Fisk replacing Gleeson, who was suffering with an inflamed foot picked up in training.
The match got underway with a strong and swirling wind but the game was only a minute old before Lowestoft got the most perfect of starts. Playmaker Eagle picked out Woods-Garness in the area and as he went to head the ball forward, Hendon defender Taggert went to clear the ball but ended up catching Woods-Garness in the face with his boot. You had to feel for the defender, who was just trying to clear the danger but the referee had no option but to point to the spot and with Woods-Garness calmly stepping up, he stroked it home for 1-0 (1 mins).
Lowestoft were kicking into a really strong and swirling wind which was making it tricky to read the flight of the ball. As a result Hendon were seeing more of the ball in the Lowestoft half but the Lowestoft rearguard were defending really well, with Haynes-Brown especially looking very commanding at the back.
The thirty minute mark passed with the only effort on goal being the penalty in the first minute, as Hendon continued to maintain the majority of possession, while Lowestoft put up a resilient defensive display with Adam Smith even coming across from left back on occasions to keep it tight.
Haynes-Brown injured himself with a great saving tackle in the Lowestoft defence but was able to continue after receiving treatment. Moments later the physio was required again, with Eagle going down after a clash in midfield, leaving him with a bleeding head that later required a visit to A & E.
There were no after effects for Eagle though with Lowestoft putting a good move together and Lee Smith picking him out on the left side of the area, where he then hit a lovely shot along the deck and across goal, only to see it come back into play off the foot of the far post.
Lee Smith has already scored a couple of good free-kicks this season and with a foul presenting him with an opportunity to add to that, his free-kick was literally millimetres from finding the top corner with the keeper rooted to the spot.
With the earlier penalty and a number of stoppages, five minutes injury time was added on at the end of the half and Lowestoft were unlucky not to head into the break 2-0 up, after being denied what looked like a stonewall penalty in the dying moments of the half. A Woods-Garness back heal in the box was clearly met by the hand of a defender but nothing was given by the referee, who must of thought it was a case of ball-to-hand.
Lowestoft had endured a tough first half with the wind against them, so hopes were high as the second half got underway with Lowestoft having the wind behind them now.
Unfortunately the team had left their first half showing in the dressing room though and in the space of ten minutes they went from being ahead to being behind in the match.
Lowestoft were sleeping while Hendon were pressing right from the off and with a ball coming across from the right, it went right the way across the Lowestoft box and with Bennett on hand at the far post he had the simplest of tasks to hit it into the roof of the net for 1-1 (49 mins).
Just another seven minutes past before another ball was sent in from the right and with Lowestoft not clearing their lines, the ball dropped nicely for Morais who gave Jones no chance and finished expertly for 2-1 (56 mins).
Lowestoft were not in the game at all and with Morais bullying the Lowestoft defence and Hendon winning all the second balls, Lowestoft looked in big trouble.
There really was only one side in the game but from nowhere Lowestoft snatched an equaliser, with Frew sending a superb cross field ball from deep into the path of Eagle, who's finish from a tough angle was right out of the top draw to make it 2-2 (64 mins).
The goal fired Lowestoft into gear for a brief moment but the moment was short lived as Hendon continued to press and Lowestoft looked ruffled. Even Jones was looking uncharacteristically nervy, giving away a dangerous free-kick after coming too far out of his area when kicking.
Hendon were bossing things and Maclaren was orchestrating their upbeat performance from midfield, putting in a big shift for his side.
The game was now turning into a right tussle but Lowestoft were losing their way too often and were looking very narrow and lethargic. As the final moments of the game approached it was looking like Lowestoft were going to get away with a point but with just three minutes of normal time remaining, Hendon struck the killer blow. A free-kick was sent forward from the middle and with central defender Flegg rising in the Lowestoft area, Jones appeared to just stand there and watch the header go over him and into the net for 3-2 (87 mins).
Lowestoft made a late change with Cunningham replacing Okay but Lowestoft were already beaten and a miserable day was brought to a close as the final whistle sounded.
It was without doubt a game of two halves for Lowestoft. They defended admirably in the first half, in what were very tricky conditions. However it was fair to say that the second half was poor by the teams standards, as Hendon bullied and bossed them throughout and deserved their victory.
Despite Lowestoft leaking three goals, Haynes-Brown put in a very commanding performance at the back, especially in the first half when using his pace and quality to deal with the Hendon attack.
The Man of the Match for Lowestoft though was Robert Eagle, who scored a really good goal, hit the post and showed great creativity in the wide role that he'd been asked to fill for the match.
After the match I caught up with Director of Football Craig Fleming, to get his views on a disappointing afternoon:-
Is it fair to say that we went missing too much in the second half? "Yeah. I thought first half we defended solidly, created some stuff and if we had of got the second goal then I think we would have cruised it. Second half we just came out and got bullied. There was a spell just before and just after we got our second goal when I thought we were back on our game but we just got bullied. The defending for the three goals was appalling. If you're not in the game and things aren't going your way then you have to try and make it very, very hard for teams to score and we didn't".
Is it a case of picking the lads up for Tuesday night or will they do that themselves? "Anybody who plays sport knows that if things aren't going your way it's difficult when people are getting on your back. It's a tough time but you find out more about yourselves when things aren't going too well and everything is not firing. So they've got to do that and they will find out a lot about themselves, like we all will but they will be up for the game on Tuesday".
Bradley looked to be tiring a fair bit in the second half and is it just a case that with injuries we're struggling to find an option to put up top with him? "We're so low on numbers to be honest with you but Bradley has sometimes got that style about him, were his shoulders go down and stuff like that but we checked with him and he was fine to go on. So we left him on, as you need proven goalscorers like him on the pitch".
Lowestoft are at home again on Tuesday night, when they will be taking on Grays Athletic.
It's a testing period for the team but it's early days in a long season and with injured players returning and your continued support, things will come good.