Thamesmead Town 2 Lowestoft Town 2
The Lowestoft Town players worked their socks off in the face of adversity, conceding a harsh penalty in stoppage time for a 2-2 draw at Thamesmead.
Thamesmead Town: Budd, Butler, Porter, Saunders, Tozer, Baker, Roberts, Phillips (Hibbert 66 mins), Mullings (Conteh 84 mins), Monger (Jewers 88 mins), Fairweather-Johnson
Subs; Jewers, Conteh, Hibbert, Carter
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Williams, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown (Fitzgerald 76 mins), Stuart Ainsley, Jack Ainsley, Fisk (Bailey 66 mins), Jarvis, Eagle, Henderson, Reed
Subs; Fitzgerald, Bailey, Haizel, Jessup
The Lowestoft Town players worked their socks off in the face of adversity, conceding a harsh penalty in stoppage time for a 2-2 draw at Thamesmead Town. Persistent fouling by the opposition left Fisk in hospital with a bad gash and Haynes-Brown limping off, while the blues were also left frustrated by some questionable officiating.
Lowestoft were still struggling with injuries going into the game and Youth team player Nana Haizel joined fellow Reserve/Youth team players Luke Bailey, Adam Fitzgerald and Jake Jessup on the bench.
The game kicked off with Lowestoft losing the toss and kicking into a strong wind.
Just two minutes into the game the big Thamesmead striker Mullings caused Gaughran and Haynes-Brown issues at the back but the chance only lead to an early corner for the home side.
At the other end Fisk did well to get into the box, as Lowestoft started to settle with both Henderson and Eagle beginning to stretch the Thamesmead back line, causing issues for the Thamesmead full backs.
As the opening ten minutes past Lowestoft were getting a bit of a foothold in the game and were starting to put some good passages of play together.
Some beautiful football between Eagle and Henderson ended with Henderson being released into the box to send a lovely bending shot past the keeper. However, with it not quite bending enough it came off the outside of the post and behind for a goal kick.
Lowestoft were now showing great movement in their play and were upping the pressure. The pressure then reaped its reward, as a superb delivery from the left by Stuart Ainsley saw Reed get a touch at the near post and with it going right across the face of goal, Thamesmead left back Porter was unfortunate in getting a touch to see the ball into the net for an own goal and a 1-0 lead for Lowestoft (14 mins).
Lowestoft were worthy of the early lead and even though the tall and tricky forward pairing of Mullings and Fairweather-Johnson looked good, Thamesmead were not seeing enough possession to supply them with anything except hoofed balls up the pitch.
It was a hoofed ball by Thamesmead that tested Lowestoft though, with the ball finding Mullings bursting at pace towards the Lowestoft defence and with Haynes-Brown struggling to keep with him, Jones was forced to rush out from goal, smashing the ball into his own player and out for a corner.
Thamesmead continued to look for long balls up to their forwards, while Lowestoft mainly kept the ball on the deck and were looking to double their lead.
The lead very nearly did double for Lowestoft with Jarvis hitting a great effort on the half volley from the right but seeing it come back off the same post Henderson had found earlier in the half.
Lowestoft certainly looked in control of matters and with Stuart Ainsley not only looking solid at left back but also picking out some well selected passes, the first thirty minutes appeared to being going to plan. During this time Reed was also making a number of well timed and angled runs to keep the Thamesmead defence on their toes and Jarvis was working really hard from box to box.
A rare Thamesmead effort by Roberts was deflected wide off a Lowestoft defender as halftime approached but Jones appeared to have it covered. The corner was a different story though and with the Lowestoft defence coming off second best, a header was sent skimming off and over the Lowestoft crossbar.
Thamesmead were now coming forward in numbers looking to steal an equaliser before the break and with a ball flashing across the Lowestoft box there was luckily no green shirt in sight to connect for the home side.
Right on the stroke of halftime Lowestoft were gifted a great chance to double their lead with Henderson stealing the ball off Monger in the Thamesmead half off and finding Jack Ainsley but from the angle his shot was slammed right at the keeper Budd.
The second half kicked off with Lowestoft now playing with the strong wind behind them.
It took both sides a little while to settle and what would prove to be a half of persistent late tackles and boots being left in by the opposition, started with Saunders going right through the back of Fisk and going into the referees book.
Lowestoft had missed Eagle in their last away match at Met Police and he was showing yet again what a key player he's been this season with his creative ability and quick feet in midfield. It was therefore no surprise to see him get on the end of a Jack Ainsley cross from the right and with him catching the dropping ball really well, he forced the Thamesmead keeper to turn it over the bar.
A short and bizarre interlude came in the fifty seventh minute with Williams tripping over and accidentally crashing into Saunders as a result, only to be left gobsmacked when being shown the yellow card by the referee.
Thamesmead were certainly putting more effort into their play this half and trying to involve their midfield more but had still not really tested Jones in the Lowestoft goal. That was until they won a free-kick on the right and with Monger sending it in and clearing the jump of Gaughran at the far post, Baker was at hand to give Jones no chance and to head home for 1-1 (60 mins).
The equaliser was a little harsh on Lowestoft but they reacted well with Eagle working a shot at the other end, but with it hitting the defenders hand the referee, not the first time in the match, waved away the appeals for a clear handball.
Lowestoft were not finding some of the space that they had in the first half but were still putting in plenty of effort and caused a bit of panic in the Thamesmead defence with a piercing attack down the right. Jack Ainsley received the ball out on the right and with him touching it inside to the charging forward figure of Williams, he burst forward and into the area, squaring it to Eagle in the box but with a few Lowestoft efforts not fully connecting and the keeper making a save, Thamesmead survived.
The first change of the game came with just under twenty five minutes remaining, as Thamesmead introduced Hibbert for Phillips. Seconds later Lowestoft were then forced into their first change and were dealt another hammer blow on the injury front, as Fisk, who was having another good game, was forced off the field with a deep gash and replaced with Bailey. As a result of the change Eagle was moved into the middle and Henderson went left.
Moments later a chance opened up in the box for Reed but with him having time to pick his spot, he placed his effort too high and over the bar. Lowestoft had now upped their tempo and appeared to have their backs up with just over twenty minutes of the game remaining.
On several occasions during the game Thamesmead players had been guilty of leaving a foot in on a tackle and with Haynes-Brown going down in agony following another one, it didn't look good for him or Lowestoft. After a few minutes of treatment he eventually got to his feet and even though he was on the pitch to see Mullings power forward and set up Fairweather-Johnson for a great chance that was missed, he had to admit defeat and hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Fitzgerald. Lowestoft were forced to reshuffle again and even with the blow of two further injuries and continually unpunished fouling by the opposition, the Lowestoft players rolled up their sleeves and kept going.
An Eagle corner caused an aerial scramble in the Thamesmead box but it just wouldn't drop right for Lowestoft, as the final stages of the game approached.
Thamesmead made a further change but with just two minutes left of normal time the excellent Eagle sent a great ball in from the left and with Reed heading it back across the keeper, it nestled inside the net and was the cue for celebrations on and off the pitch for Lowestoft; 2-1 (88 mins).
Thamesmead immediately made their third and final change from the bench and went looking for a late equaliser but with Fairweather-Johnson sitting one up into the Lowestoft area, Gaughran sent a strong header behind to deal with the danger.
As stoppage times was entered it looked as if Lowestoft were going to take the three points but with Williams tussling in the box with a Thamesmead player, the officials combined to award what seemed a very harsh penalty. Up stepped Thamesmead captain Tozer and blasted the ball home to leave Lowestoft dumbstruck and with just a point to show for their effort; 2-2 (90+2 mins).
It was a match in which Lowestoft played the better football overall, especially in the first half. Thamesmead offered very little and only looked dangerous when hitting Mullings up top but with a number of persistent fouls going unpunished and two more key players leaving the field injured for Lowestoft as a result, they managed to snatch victory away from Lowestoft at the death.
It was a disappointing result for Lowestoft, who in the face of what's becoming an injury crisis gave it their all and fought right to the end. It looked like they had sealed a hard earned three points but had it snatched away with the sort of penalty that you normally only see get given to home sides.
Mullings looked like a powerful and class act up front for Thamesmead and Saunders was key for them in the middle but it was Lowestoft who had the better quality throughout. Jarvis and Fisk looked solid in the middle before Fisk was forced to leave the pitch and Reed made some great and tireless runs all afternoon. My Man of the Match though was Robert Eagle, who yet again gave the Lowestoft team creativity with his quick feet and skill. His positioning and delivery for what looked like being the winning goal late on was excellent and he continues to be a key player in the team. Well done Rob!
Due to me being unable to get on the pitch at the end of the match, I wasn't able to grab an interview but after the match Joint Manager Ady Gallagher tweeted 'Very proud of the lads today. Real spirit, gutsy effort and deserved more. #LTFC #diggingdeep'
Lowestoft will next be in action on Tuesday night when the welcome the very strong and consistent looking Wealdstone to the Crown Meadow. Lowestoft have a great record against The Stones but at present will be hoping that they can get enough players fit to start the game!