Enfield Town 2 Lowestoft Town 2
Lowestoft Town play well but let a two goal lead slip in a frustrating 2-2 draw away at Enfield Town.
Enfield Town: Imber, Lockie, Stevens, McCluskey, Kirby, Wild, Allen, Osei (Campbell 60 mins), Hope (Matata 81 mins), Wallace, Whitely. Subs; Kendall, White, Campbell, Matata, Hammatt
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Jack Ainsley, Williams, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown, Okay, Henderson, Fisk, Lee Smith, Eagle, Frew. Subs; Adam Smith, Stuart Ainsley, Tarawali, Doddington, Viner
Lowestoft Town play well but let a two goal lead slip in a frustrating 2-2 draw away at Enfield Town.
Both Connor Doddington and Adam Fitzgerald travelled with the team and Doddington was named in the squad following the withdrawal of Gleeson in the warm-up.
Woods-Garness was still missing with injury but Williams returned to the starting line-up following a knee injury. At present the team and formation for Lowestoft is being somewhat dictated by injuries. On top of that the team had the added delight of coming up against the familiar and huge frame of centre back Chris Wild, who played against Lowestoft for Billericay the season before last.
Enfield had not lost at home so far this season with three wins and a draw but they had conceded regularly and Lowestoft went into the game with confidence, as a high scoring game looked like being in the offing.
The game got underway with Lowestoft in all red and Enfield setting up in a very attacking 4-2-4 formation, which probably explains them winning games but at a cost defensively.
Enfield very nearly opened the scoring in the first few minutes with a long ball over the top finding Hope but a superb one handed save by Jones stopped the fiercely hit shot finding the net.
Enfield were really starting like a house on fire with their front four already proving a handful for a Lowestoft defence, who were finding it difficult to adapt. Enfield were looking to fire it up to their top four at every opportunity but as a result of that there was plenty of space in midfield for Lowestoft to expose when in possession. The height of the Enfield side was also evident with Okay and Fisk being dwarfed in the middle and Frew getting little change out of the huge centre back Wild but with fifteen minutes gone, Lowestoft started to settle.
Okay was booked for his first foul of the game, as the referee set his stall out early.
Lowestoft had ridden the early wave of play from Enfield and created a chance of their own with Williams sending a ball over the top to Lee Smith in the area but from a very tough angle his shot went past the far post.
Lee Smith was already looking on his game, getting up to support Frew but also dropping off well to bring others into play, not just centrally but also wide. As a result Jack Ainsley was getting up and crossing from the right and Eagle and Haynes-Brown were working together down the left to deliver from out wide.
On the half hour mark the game was briefly called to a halt with Stuart Ainsley picking up a stupid booking after saying something to the linesman on the touch line.
Apart from the save by Jones in the opening minutes, neither keeper had been tested but Lowestoft were now looking like a team that would change that stat.
Eagle was now getting his foot on the ball more often and Lowestoft were working hard to try and find the opening. Okay was in a key position for Lowestoft, playing box-to-box by covering the back four when Enfield came forward with numbers but also pushing out when Lowestoft were in possession.
Haynes-Brown had already come forward a couple of times down the left and in the 38th minute he burst down the left superbly from the halfway line and pulled the ball back from the byline for Lee Smith to notch and send Lowestoft in front 1-0 (38 mins).
Moments later Enfield came close to hitting straight back with Hope being allowed a bit too much time in the box but his shot was closed down brilliantly by the body of Gaughran.
Enfield had started the game well but as the half progressed the Lowestoft midfield adapted to the game and went in at halftime with a worthy lead.
The second half got underway and in truth Frew was lucky to escape punishment a few minutes after the restart when chasing a helpless ball and stupidly elbowing McCluskey in the back but luckily for him the referee and linesman had not seen it.
Lowestoft were forcing the play and with just eight minutes of the second period gone, they extended their lead. An Eagle free-kick was headed out of the Enfield defence and with Gaughran latching onto the ball and lifting it into Frew, it looked like he was not going to get on the end of it but did and applied a good finish across and past the keeper, who got a hand on it but couldn't stop it going inside the post for 2-0 (53 mins).
Lowestoft had worked hard for their lead and Gaughran had played a big part in keeping things secure at the back. However, with five more minutes on the board, Allen sent in a corner and with the huge Wild lurking at the far post he headed in on the line to peg the score back to 2-1 (58 mins). The big stature of Wild was always going to be difficult to defend against but it was another goal conceded from a dead ball situation for Lowestoft.
Enfield made their first change as the game started to heat up and both sides realised that the next goal could be crucial.
Okay scored a number of great goals from distance last season and with him latching on to a ball in midfield it opening up for him but his placed shot was easy for the keeper to get down to and save.
Lowestoft were certainly working hard and were keeping Enfield pressed in on occasions but the danger was still there and with Williams heading a ball away, Hope found himself with no one around him just outside the area but sent his shot high and over the crossbar.
Eagle was showing his magic in midfield and with some wonderful footwork in the right corner he danced past two defenders to open up a chance, curling a great effort just past the far post for what would have been a fantastic individual goal.
Enfield were still looking dangerous when streaming forward in numbers, in what was proving to be a great game that was far from over, as it started to go from end to end.
Henderson stole the ball off a defender and squared the ball but a great tackle blocked Frew from getting a shot in on goal.
Lowestoft were playing some good football but Enfield were fighting hard and looking for that all important equaliser. Imber stopped Lowestoft extending their lead, getting a great one handed touch on a swerving Eagle shot from distance.
As the final ten minutes were entered Frew picked up a booking and Enfield made another change as Matata replaced Hope.
Lowestoft were just seven minutes from a well fought three points but with a defence splitting ball going right across the box, Lowestoft hearts sunk as Whitely just got to the ball ahead of a stretching Jack Ainsley and hit the ball across Jones and into the goal for 2-2 (83 mins). The equaliser spurned Enfield on and Lowestoft were hanging on as the ball dropped in the box to Whitely and Jones had to save after seeing it late. Right back Lockie then lifted one in from the right and Williams was forced to clear an effort off the line, as all hands were required at the pump for Lowestoft.
Even in the last minute of the match Enfield kept coming and Haynes-Brown went into the book for a challenge as Campbell looked like he was about to burst through the Lowestoft defence and snatch the winner.
The final whistle did eventually come though and it was a frustrating point for Lowestoft who had put in a good offensive performance but had again paid the full price for a couple of chances in defence.
Lowestoft created chances throughout and both of their goals were taken well. Gaughran was solid at the back and Haynes-Brown looked sharp and full of pace when regularly coming forward down the left to support the Lowestoft attacking play. The Man of the Match honours came down to two players though with Eagle showing some magical footwork, especially in the second half and Lee Smith putting in a hard working shift, supporting Frew on occasions and also bringing others into play. It was a close call between the two but my Man of the Match for Lowestoft was Lee Smith for his hard work, key involvement in most of the Lowestoft offensive play and for being in the right place at the right time to grab the opening goal.
Special mention also has to go to the two young lads Fitzgerald and Doddington who earned first team contracts this week. The attitude of both players was excellent, with Fitzgerald not being named in the squad and Doddington not getting any minutes from the bench but both players enjoying being with the first team and gaining great experience from the senior players.
After the match I managed to grab a word with Lowestoft Director of Football Craig Fleming:-
We seemed to play well but frustrating to lose a two goal lead? "I've been in football long enough to know that you can't guarantee results but when you perform that well and if you keep doing it, then it evens itself out eventually. Overall I thought we played really well in a difficult game against a giant team who were very direct at the end, so it was difficult. I honestly thought it was an improvement though and we looked to have a spark in our play and were much more at it and like I said, if we continue doing that then we won't be far wrong".
Another goal conceded from a dead ball situation, is that something you're looking at? "Yeah definitely, we've spoken about it at length to be honest but it was difficult today as the lad is such a big lump and we're not necessarily the biggest of sides. If people are getting free headers in the box then that's a worry, which they have been recently but today he was tightly marked but was just a foot and a half bigger than anyone else".
Curtley Williams returned today from injury which is good for the side, so how are the rest of the injuries? "Crane will probably be a couple of weeks and hopefully Woods-Garness about a week with the exception of the long term injuries to Cockrill and Defty".
Tuesday night, another tough away game? "Yeah, it seems to be that way at the moment but I think as a club we've just got to dig in and stick together, as it's a difficult time. When you look at the players we have available at this moment in time we just need to dig in and stick together, as clubs go through these periods and we have to trust that it will come good".
Lowestoft Town are next in action on Tuesday night when they travel to East Thurrock but before that the Lowestoft Ladies will be facing AFC Sudbury in the FA Cup tomorrow (Sunday) in a 2pm kick-off and would love to have a few supporters cheering them on from the touchline.