Lowestoft Town 3 AFC Hornchurch 0
Lowestoft Town put in another magnificent performance to claim their ninth clean sheet of the season and a fully deserved 3-0 win.
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Williams, Gleeson, Gaughran, Adam Smith, Okay, Jack Ainsley, Lee Smith (Frew 85 mins), Jarvis, Eagle, Reed (Doddington 90+ mins)
Subs; Stuart Ainsley, Frew, Doddington, Bailey, Jessup
AFC Hornchurch: Echepare, Starkey (Bourne 57 mins), Bentley, Hayles, Styles, Curley, Rainford, May (Yusuff 72 mins), Rook, Purcell, Bremner (Eyong 57 mins)
Subs; Eyong, Bourne, Lechmere, Coyne, Yusuff
Lowestoft Town put in another magnificent performance to claim their ninth clean sheet of the season and a fully deserved 3-0 win over high flying AFC Hornchurch.
There was one change to the line-up from last Saturdays league game with Okay replacing the ill Fisk. While AFC Hornchurch included their new signing Dave Rainford after signing him from Chelmsford.
The game kicked off in a swirling wind which made things tricky and meant that both teams took the first ten minutes to adapt and settle into the game.
Once Lowestoft did settle they were first to send an effort in on goal with Lee Smith being bundled over on the edge of the box and with a gap appearing at the near post, Eagle went for it with the free-kick but didn't get anywhere near enough on the ball to test the keeper.
At the other end it was the turn of Hornchurch as Purcell spun off Adam Smith from a throw in and bent a low shot towards the far post that Jones appeared to have turned behind brilliantly but the referee pointed for a goal kick, much to the annoyance of the travelling supporters.
Hornchurch then got another sniff of goal with a ball dropping nicely in the area for Bremner but he got under his volley and sent it high over the bar, when in truth he should have done much better.
One of the great assets that Lowestoft goalkeeper Jones has, is that he's always vocal and instructing his team mates and with him blasting out words of advice, Lowestoft started to get things going. Eagle sent in a tempting delivery from the left with Reed inches away from giving the blues the lead. Then shortly after Jack Ainsley cut in from the right and with the ball eventually finding its way to Lee Smith on the edge of the box, his fierce shot was blocked.
The thirty minute mark was now approaching and Lowestoft were starting to knock the ball around on the deck with ease and confidence. Lee Smith and Reed pulled off a great one-two to unlock the Hornchurch defence but with him driving in, Reed hit the side netting with his effort.
Eagle was yet again looking in a menacing mood with some slick passing and movement, as Lowestoft started to up the ante on Hornchurch.
A great Lowestoft move containing a number of passes, ended with Eagle hitting a shot into the ground and inches wide of the post. Lowestoft were really on their game now and with the stands in full voice getting right behind the team, a deserved goal was all that was missing.
That goal then very nearly came and what a goal it would have been with Eagle hitting an absolutely blinding shot that swerved all over the place, leaving the keeper for dead but coming crashing back off the bar. Moments later Echepare was forced into action again, turning another Eagle effort round the post.
Lowestoft were flying now and with Lee Smith turning well in midfield and finding Jack Ainsley, he did brilliantly to get past Starkey and from a tough angle his shot whistled past the far post.
The halftime whistle sounded and Lowestoft in truth deserved to be going in at the break in front but at present their play hadn't reaped it's reward.
The second half started with Hornchurch having a free header early on but with Bremner unmarked he sent his header wide of the post.
Lowestoft then took a deserved lead as Eagle came forward with the ball and with no real options on for him and the defence backing off, he smashed it low and hard from all of 25 yards out to beat the keeper for 1-0 (49 mins). One then became two with some great passing by Lowestoft, shifting it from the right to the left and with Eagle knocking it into the feet of Adam Smith, he sent a shot across the keeper and into the goal for 2-0 (52 mins).
Hornchurch introduced a couple of changes from the bench and with Rainford failing to connect in front of goal, they started to push more numbers forward in an effort to get back in the game.
A period of about ten minutes saw Hornchurch get some spells of possession in the Lowestoft half but the central defensive pairing of Gleeson and Gaughran were watchful and alert. It was almost as if Lowestoft were taking a little breather, while maintaining a good shape and looking solid.
Eagle sent a fizzing shot in from distance with the keeper doing well to stop it, as the stand got behind the team again, bursting into full voice. The blues were now pushing Hornchurch back into their own half and were applying pressure with Eagle, Adam Smith and Lee Smith all showing some great passing, sometimes in tight spaces.
Hornchurch made their third and final change but moments after this Lowestoft sealed the game and all three points. Following two or three corners in quick succession, Jack Ainsley delivered a corner to the far post and Gaughran was on hand to head home and make it 3-0 (74 mins).
The game was effectively over but Hornchurch didn't give up and with some good passing Curley was able to produce some great skill to create an opening in the Lowestoft six yard box. However, with him and his team mates trying to walk the ball in, they failed miserably and a chance for what seemed like a certain goal went begging.
The final five minutes came into sight for Lowestoft as Frew replaced Lee Smith, who had put in another midfield performance of real merit. As the final moments of the game were entered, Doddington was introduced in place of the industrious Reed and both Adam Smith and Jarvis picked up bookings. Finally the whistle sounded though and Lowestoft had put in another superb all round team performance, capturing their ninth clean sheet of the season and another big three points against a promotion rival.
Yet again it was another one of those performances in which everyone involved played their part. Okay, Reed, Lee Smith and Eagle were just four of many performances that stood out but my Man of the Match goes to one of the most consistently brilliant players for Lowestoft. Yet again he defended in a commanding fashion and kept a dangerous team quiet from start to finish. My Man of the Match is Sam Gaughran
At the end of the match I had a quick word with Director of Football Craig Fleming:-
What can you say about that; another magnificent performance from the lads?
"It was very, very good. It's a transitional period for the club were we've changed the squad around a bit and made some brave decisions. The lads that we have now and the whole spirit around the place is brilliant. We just need to keep it going now, game after game".
It was also our ninth clean sheet of the season today, which says something about how we're playing?
"The defence along with Jones have been tremendous. You look at the performances they've put in; Adam Smith is back to the best he's been, both Gleeson and Gaughran are so composed and with Williams at right back and Jones in goal, it's been brilliant. It's the oldest cliche going but you defend from the front and the work rate from Reed and Lee Smith is phenomenal".
Tuesdays game is now off with Wealdstone after them drawing in the FA Trophy today and needing a replay. In one respect I guess we want to play them with the form we're in at present but then again it also gives a chance for injured players to return?
"We do have a few injuries and we also have a few of the lads ill at present. Fisk missed the game today with illness and Gleeson is recovering from illness and is on antibiotics, so it's probably a blessing in disguise to be honest with you".
As already mentioned, our scheduled home game against Wealdstone on Tuesday is now postponed due to them drawing in the FA Trophy today and requiring a replay on Tuesday night.
Therefore Lowestoft will next be in action on Saturday when they welcome Cray Wanderers to the Crown Meadow.