East Thurrock United 0 Lowestoft Town 1
Lowestoft Town play with great intensity but have to wait for a sensational Haynes-Brown volley in the last minute to secure a deserved 1-0 win.
East Thurrock United: Mott, Sammons, Stephen, Peddie, Sheehan, Glover, Dawson, Thurgood, McKenzie, Bryant (Eagle 84 mins), Ruel (Koranteng 73 mins). Subs; Eagle, Gilbey, Witherspoon, Koranteng, Hughes
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Williams, Gaughran, Gleeson, Haynes-Brown, Okay, Jack Ainsley, Fisk, Lee Smith, Eagle, Frew. Adam Smith, Stuart Ainsley, Tarawali, Viner
Lowestoft Town play with great intensity but have to wait for a sensational Haynes-Brown volley in the last minute to secure a 1-0 win and the three points that the performance warranted.
The only change to the starting line-up from the weekend was the returning Gleeson coming in for Henderson, who has been struggling with a hamstring and ankle injury.
Gleeson took up position at centre back with Gaughran, while Williams played right back and Okay sat in front of the defence.
The game got underway on a damp pitch in chilly conditions but things were heated up right from the off, as Lowestoft came flying out of the traps. Eagle and Haynes-Brown picked up where they left off on Saturday, working well down the left and linking in well with the good movement of Lee Smith and Frew.
It was from an Eagle corner that gave Lowestoft their first chance of the game, as Gleeson rose for a header but saw his effort cleared off the line. Lee Smith then nearly scored what would have been up there as goal of the season, with Williams sending a ball over the top and him timing his run perfectly to watch the ball over his shoulder and hit a dipping volleying just over the bar.
Lowestoft were playing some superb passing football with Eagle right on his game again and Lee Smith showing an incredible work rate yet again.
As the fifteen minute mark approached East Thurrock started to settle a bit but Lowestoft were still in the ascendancy and Okay was putting in some ferocious but fair tackles in midfield.
As the game progressed East Thurrock started to close Lowestoft down a lot quicker and took some of the sting out of the blues but after a short spell of containment the Trawlerboys were at it again. This time a long goal kick by Jones was latched onto by Frew but he sent a half chance past the far post. Lowestoft were playing some slick football and much like on Saturday, Haynes-Brown was exposing the opposition down the left while also tacking well in defence. Lee Smith was also having another great game and is finding a real level of consistency in the middle this season. It wasn't just in an attacking sense that Lowestoft were impressing either, as Gleeson and Gaughran were strong and alert in defence and Williams was always looking for the pass from deep.
The closest East Thurrock came to breaching the Lowestoft defence was when Sammons sent a cross in from just inside the Lowestoft half and Bryant ghosted in across the front of Jones but couldn't connect.
As the half hour approached Lowestoft were being frustrated by a number of very questionable offside decisions by the linesman and also a number of late tackles by East Thurrock, which were going unpunished at times. Lowestoft deserved to be in front for the intensity in their play but it was East Thurrock who nearly snatched the lead with a cross from the left being diverted onto the Lowestoft crossbar by the head of McKenzie.
Lowestoft had four corners on the trot just before half time but couldn't get a purchase on any of the good deliveries, as the teams left the field level at the break.
Lowestoft started the second half with a great level of intensity again and Frew was continuing to do really well up top, in finding the pockets of space and applying some good touches to ensure that Lowestoft kept possession.
Eagle has been a revelation so far this season and with some lovely footwork in midfield he spun on the ball, shook off two players and worked the keeper from distance. East Thurrock then went straight up the other end and the home supporters thought Ruel had given them the lead but his dipping shot from distance fractionally cleared the bar.
East Thurrock introduced some fresh impetus from the bench while Lowestoft picked up a couple of bookings with both Jack Ainsley and Okay questioning some odd decisions by the linesman.
East Thurrock had certainly gotten closer to the Lowestoft area this half and had put a number of balls in to dangerous area but Jones had not really been asked any questions and Gaughran was winning almost everything that came his way.
As the last five minutes of the match approached East Thurrock made another change and Lowestoft were starting to look a little low on gas, after putting in a tremendous effort.
It didn't stop them continuing to go for the win though and following a good Lowestoft move, Jack Ainsley was given an opening to have a shot on goal but saw his effort charged down by the defender.
Lowestoft have performed really well in their last couple of games but it's just not gone for them at crucial times in the game and they've not been fairly rewarded in the results. It was looking like being the case again; well that was until the very last minute, when every Lowestoft supporter, player and management were sent wild with delight. Eagle sent a deep free-kick into the edge of the box and with Frew heading it back, Haynes-Brown struck a sublime scissored volley that nearly ripped a hole in the net and sent Lowestoft 1-0 up (90 mins).
There was little time left for East Thurrock to muster any sort of response and as the whistle sounded, Lowestoft secured their first away win of the season.
It was a performance and result which was not just great for the supporters but also for the players, as it's been a tough period but they've never stopped trying for one second over the last few weeks.
This really was a solid team performance and an almost impossible conundrum to award a Man of the Match with so many leading performances on show.
The incredible work rate of Lee Smith was prevalent again and Okay put in a great box-to-box effort with some brilliant tackling to win the midfield for Lowestoft. Haynes-Brown was defensively strong but also dangerous down the left and scored a super winner.
Frew also continued his fine vein of form by leading the front line well with some good touches and runs. Gaughran was a rock in defence and seemed to win everything but on this occasion was just pipped to the Man of the Match honours by the creative spark of Robert Eagle. It was another match in which his footwork and close skill caused no end of problems for the opposition and played a big part in Lowestoft putting in a great performance.
I caught up with midfielder Erkan Okay as he left the pitch, to discuss a great night for the team:-
A performance of intensity and without doubt deserving of the three points but you had to wait until the last minute to get them? "It was a complete away performance, everything from work rate to going forward, where we looked dangerous. We deserved to win the game and if we would have lost the game then we would have still come off with our heads held high, as we put in absolutely everything and it's a great feeling".
A good performance from yourself, just missing out on the Man of the Match honours but some great tackling in there which sometimes was harshly punished by the officials? "I was just trying to get my tackles in and do what I'm in there to do but everyone from one to eleven were different class tonight. It was the complete team performance which helped me perform the way I did I guess".
Is it a hard role to play box-to-box or is it a role that you're actually enjoying? "I enjoy it and I like to be involved in all aspects of the game and with us slightly changing the formation the last few games, it's helped us push up the field more. I like the role and I'd like to score but as long as we win, that's the main thing".
The last three games we've played really well to be fair but as is always the case when you're in a bit of a rut, it doesn't quite go for you. So has it been hard to keep your heads up? "It can be but with the group of players we've got and the togetherness, I believe in the management team, the players and everyone involved in the club. We deserve it and we've been unlucky with the rub of the green. There have been games in which we've deserved to get nothing from the game but the last few we definitely have deserved something. This could be the start of something hopefully".
Just as a final question, how crucial is the role of the supporters? "It's amazing for them to come here on a Tuesday night and we've always had fantastic support. We take it in every time and I can't believe the support we get but it gives us a big boost".
It's a result that will sit nicely as Lowestoft have a break before their next game at Maidstone, a week on Saturday. During this time Lowestoft will also be hopeful that a few of the walking wounded will start to return to the squad.
A great night and a fully deserved three points for the lads!