Cray Wanderers 0 Lowestoft Town 4
Lowestoft Town shake off their achilles heel of sometimes slipping up against the lower sides, with a 4-0 beating of Cray Wanderers.
Cray Wanderers: Behcet, Udoji, Simpson, James-Lewis (Ashikodi 35 mins), Orome, Obamwonyi, Stavrinou, Beckett, Vines (Stone 70 mins), Fakinos, Bird
Subs; Talbot, Rowe, Larin, Stone, Ashikodi
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Williams, Gleeson (Haynes-Brown 70 mins), Gaughran, Stuart Ainsley, Jack Ainsley, Jarvis (Okay 76 mins), Fisk, Eagle, Henderson (Smith 76 mins), Reed
Subs; Okay, Smith, Haynes-Brown
Lowestoft Town shake off their achilles heel of sometimes slipping up against the lower sides, with a 4-0 beating of Cray Wanderers. Every player applied a great mentality to their game to secure the teams eighteenth clean sheet and bring all three points back to Suffolk.
Cray went into the game bottom of the league, having already conceded 106 goals this season but were looking for the double, after registering a shock 2-0 win at Lowestoft back in November. While in recent times Lowestoft have an unwanted historical record of slipping up against struggling sides and dropping crucial points. So they went into the game hoping to shake that tag off and to take all three points, as the play-off race hots up.
Lowestoft were missing the in-form Frew through illness and he was replaced in the starting line-up by Jack Ainsley, as the match got underway with the warm sun shining down on an even but divot riddled pitch.
Lowestoft took little time to get on the offensive and with the game just five minutes old, a nice touch by Reed allowed Henderson to work a chance in front of the Cray defence but his shot was scuffed and trickled wide.
In November Cray closed Lowestoft down with great intensity to register a deserved but shock win at the Crown Meadow. So Lowestoft were in the hunt for an early goal to knock a confidence lacking home side onto the back foot and an early goal is exactly what they got. Following some nice football that led to an Eagle shot, the keeper saved but could only guide the ball wide and into the path of Jack Ainsley, who squared for Reed to tap home for his simplest goal of the season to send Lowestoft 1-0 up (7 mins).
A superb tackle by Fisk on the centre circle set Lowestoft away again as the blues started to take hold and from a couple of corners, the second of these saw Henderson presented with a free header but he steered the effort fractionally over the bar.
Twenty minutes had gone and Lowestoft were now starting to set up camp in the Cray half with Fisk totally bossing midfield and the trio of Eagle, Henderson and Reed linking up perfectly with some great passing and movement.
Lowestoft doubled their lead with the trio combining beautifully, as Reed found Henderson and he in turn found Eagle, who spun just inside the box and dispatched the ball beyond the keeper Behcet for 2-0 (22 mins).
Moments later Cray had their only chance of the half with Stavrinou flashing one across the Lowestoft goal but it was never troubling the goal, as the home side continued to find the going tough. Reed got in round the back and laid the ball back to Henderson, as Lowestoft looked to add a third but Orome blocked the shot well for the home defence.
It was all Lowestoft with thirty minutes gone and even though Cray had sent a few crosses into the box, Jones had collected all of them with ease and great authority.
Cray made their first change in what looked to be a tactical change with Ashikodi replacing James-Lewis but Cray appeared to have no answers to deal with Lowestoft, as Reed flashed an effort just wide of the target for the blues.
The ball retention for Lowestoft was clear to see and it stayed that way until the break but there had been enough chances to indicate more goals were in the offing for Lowestoft.
Early on in the second half Henderson was found in space down the right but his squared ball was cut out by Orome, as Lowestoft looked to add to their tally.
Reed, who was looking sharp and on his game yet again, burst towards the Cray defence but Obamwonyi put in a great blocking tackle for his side on the edge of the box and with Henderson picking up the ball his shaped effort was saved by Behcet.
Cray were still finding very little in the way of anything threatening and even when they were getting into the final third, Lowestoft team captain Gleeson was showing his vast levels of experience in the game, dealing with it in an accomplished and no nonsense fashion.
Only ten minutes of the second period had gone and it was already looking like a case of how many Lowestoft would win by. It was certainly going to be more than two though, as the Cray defence failed to clear a ball and with it pinging between the home defenders close to goal, Eagle latched onto it and drilled it home from short distance for 3-0 (56 mins).
A rare bursts of energy from Cray came when Ashikodi advanced towards goal but his shot had the sting taken out of it by a deflection that took it wide and with Jones claiming the corner, Lowestoft continued to look comfortable.
The Lowestoft defence might not have been having a hugely testing time but they were staying focused and dealing with what did come their way. To add to this, both Gleeson and Williams were giving good vocal guidance and support to their team mates from the back.
A Cray ball forward found Vines presented with an opening but his shot was hit right into the chest of an advancing Jones in the Lowestoft goal but it wouldn't have counted anyway due to a foul being given against him.
The action then resumed again up the other end for Lowestoft with Fisk picking up the ball from an Eagle corner and sending it to the far post to a lurking Gaughran but the defender couldn't get enough on the ball to direct it into the net.
With twenty minutes remaining both sides made changes, as Haynes-Brown replaced the impressive Gleeson for Lowestoft and Stone replaced Vines for Cray.
Literally seconds after the changes Jack Ainsley notched up his tenth assist of the season by putting Reed through on goal and with the striker yet again showing his classy finishing in front of goal, it was 4-0 for the blues (71 mins).
Cray were still lifting the occasional ball into the Lowestoft area but it was all too simple for the Lowestoft defence and with the Hendon game being just around the corner, Lowestoft made their two final changes with Smith coming on for Henderson and Okay for Jarvis.
Both Reed and Eagle were one away from a hatrick with ten minutes to play but as the minutes and stoppage time fell away, Lowestoft coasted through to a solid win and another important haul of three points.
The confidence and belief is clear to see in the team at present and the early goal dismissed any lingering thoughts of a possible banana skin match. Fisk and Jarvis ruled the roost in the middle of the pitch, while Gleeson led the team admirably and instructed his troops from the back.
Jack Ainsley added another two assists to his tally from right midfield but it was the trio of Eagle, Henderson and Reed who combined brilliantly for most of the match and caused Cray a number of headaches throughout. In truth, all fourteen players played their part but after adding another two goals to his tally and putting in another classy and hard working display up top, my Man of the Match was Jake Reed.
It's now a quick turnaround for the team, as they make the tough trip to in-form Hendon on Monday evening. Confidence is high within the team though and yet again the excellent and much appreciated away support continues to play its part in ensuring a play-off push.
Check the website tomorrow, for post-match reaction from Micky Chapman.