Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Lowestoft Town 2
In a game that had absolutely everything, Lowestoft Town secure a vital three points in their push for a play-off place with a 2-1 win.
Hampton & Richmond Borough: Chiweshe, Brewer, Wells, Turner, Lake, Roberts, Wanado (Hicks 70 mins), Osman, Tarpey, Moone, Barton (Harris 46 mins)
Subs; Mills, Hicks, Simmonds, Harris, Edgecombe
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Jack Ainsley (Haynes-Brown 66 mins), Gleeson, Gaughran, Stuart Ainsley, Henderson, Jarvis, Okay, Eagle, Frew (Bammant 64 mins), Reed
Subs; Smith, Haynes-Brown, Bammant, Bailey, Jessup
In a game that had absolutely everything, Lowestoft Town secure a vital three points in their push for a play-off place with a 2-1 win against nine men Hampton & Richmond.
Lowestoft went into the game looking to avenge the heavy 3-0 home defeat earlier in the season against a Hampton side containing the divisions current leading scorer Charlie Moone with 29 goals.
On the injury front; Fisk was missing with a groin injury and Williams was still struggling with his ongoing injury. Henderson returned following a virus and new loan signing Bammant was named on the bench.
The game got underway at the Beveree Stadium on an uneven and cut up pitch and was just six minutes old when Lowestoft took an early lead. A ball up to Reed on the right hand side of the pitch saw the home keeper and defender sucked into the play and with the ball going across in the air to Eagle, he volley into an empty net from 30 yards for 1-0 (6 mins).
It had been a solid start by Lowestoft but in the fifteenth minute a clipped ball over the top by Hampton saw Tarpey get a shot in from the angle but Jones was down quickly with a strong hand to make a great stop. Moments later Tarpey thought he was in again but a good tackle by Stuart Ainsley denied him and with his frustration turning into a clear stamp on Stuart Ainsley, he was sent for an early bath and could have no arguments as Hampton went down to ten.
It had been an enjoyable start for both sets of watching supporters; with Lowestoft pressing well and working hard and Hampton looking dangerous when getting forward, especially through Wanado who was proving a tricky customer down the right.
Hampton were enjoying a tiny spell of play in the Lowestoft half as Gleeson fired into his players to relax and retain the ball more. Following the words from the Lowestoft captain the blues started to settle again and a Jack Ainsley ball forward from the back found Reed but with the ball not quite dropping good enough for him, the keeper claimed.
The thirty minute mark arrived and with the exception of the stamp, the game had flowed well with no real fouls or breaks in play. Lowestoft were now seeing plenty of the ball with Eagle, Frew and Reed all finding the space and working the ball well, while Jarvis and Okay were starting to get on top in midfield.
A great cross field ball from Frew picked out Henderson and with the keeper just getting there before him, the penalty claims were rightfully waved away by the referee.
Lowestoft were playing some good passing football on what was a tricky pitch and even though Stuart Ainsley had his hands full with Wanado, Lowestoft were looking fairly comfortable with halftime approaching.
A second goal just before the break is what Lowestoft were after and with Reed showing great strength to power past a couple of Hampton players and into the box, it looked like the second would come but the big defender Roberts stuck with him well to see the danger behind for a corner. From the Eagle corner Lowestoft did get their second though, as an excellent glancing header by Henderson found the bottom corner for 2-0 (44 mins). It was a great time to score but the arrears were nearly reduced at the other end, as Stuart Ainsley had to clear off the line, following a good ball in from Wanado.
The halftime whistle was not far off but it was just enough time for things to get worse for the home side, as leading scorer Moone fired a foul mouthed expletive at the referee and was promptly shown the red, reducing Hampton to nine at halftime.
During the break Hampton made their first change as they introduced Harris in place of Barton.
It was clear from the start of the second period that Hampton had nothing to lose and were going to have a go at trying to somehow get back into the game. They were straight out of the blocks and with a break down the left, Gaughran came across to make an untidy challenge and pick up a yellow card as a result.
Overall it had been a scrappy half so far but the home keeper Chiweshe was forced into action, turning a hard shot from Reed round the post.
Hampton were putting up a spirited fight but nobody could have predicted what happened next. With Hampton winning a seemingly unthreatening free-kick in their own half, up stepped Brewer and with him noticing Jones off his line, he thumped the ball towards goal and with the Lowestoft keeper back-peddling the ball cleared him and nestled into the net for an unbelievable goal; 2-1 (63 mins). It was a goal that prompted changes from the Lowestoft bench, as on loan striker Bammant replaced Frew and shortly after Haynes-Brown replaced Jack Ainsley.
Lowestoft were looking a bit rushed and flustered in their play as Hampton, to their credit, continued to work really hard. Hampton made their second change as Hicks replaced the lively Wanado but it was Lowestoft who came close again with the keeper nearly punching an Eagle corner into his own net, before seeing a scrambled effort flash wide from the resulting corner.
Hampton may have been down to nine men but they were far from being out of the game and were showing a great deal of fight, even if they were finding it hard to carve out a chance.
Bammant had made a difference since coming on for the blues, looking strong and showing some nice touches. Two excellent balls in from the left by Bammant nearly saw Lowestoft extend their lead again but Reed side-footed the first of them the wrong side of the post and then from the second a well connected header by Reed was saved superbly at point blank range by the home keeper Chiweshe. From the corner Reed worked another chance but it flashed over the bar as Lowestoft looked like they were going to start to make their advantage in numbers count.
A nice touch by Reed set Eagle away into the Hampton box but with the keeper coming out well, he made yet another great stop to keep his side in it. Chiweshe had made a number of top draw saves but with three minutes of the match remaining he was left facing Reed from the penalty spot, after Okay had made a great run into the box before being brought down by Simmonds. Up stepped Reed looking to seal the game but the keeper was truly in unbeatable form, as he dived to his right to save and then got to his feet to get something on the follow up from Eagle.
Normal time was now up but the nerves of the bench and travelling supporters were clear to see as a poor kick by Jones left Lowestoft exposed and with Jones coming out to try and atone for the kick, he was left stranded and could only foul. He was promptly booked but the punishment nearly turned out to be more severe, as the free-kick was sent to the far post and with a free header Harris should have equalised for Hampton but he missed and could only hide his shame by pulling his shirt up over his head. The game was now deep into stoppage time and it had been some game but it wasn't over and with Henderson hitting a great shot that looked like it was going to fizz into the net, Chiweshe pulled off another outstanding save.
Even though Lowestoft had forced a number of saves this half, they had made it hard for themselves but Hampton to their credit had played with great spirit, as the final whistle sounded and the relief on Lowestoft faces was clear to see.
Lowestoft had played some great football in the first half but lost their way in the second half as a spirited effort by the home side saw a nervy match pan out for the blues. Lowestoft had created chances though and if not for several top class saves by the home keeper and their man of the match, the scoreline could have been much different.
Frew, Reed and Eagle used the space and ball well in the first half particularly and on another day Reed could have ended the match with a hat-trick. Stuart Ainsley had his work cut out but did a good job at left back, However, the key for Lowestoft was in midfield and even though Eagle and Okay had been excellent my Man of the Match was the outstanding Jarvis. When coming to the club he took a few games to settle and find his game but is now a consistent member of the team who brings plenty to the team from box to box.
Other results also aided the play-off push for Lowestoft but they now face a trip on Tuesday night to the champions elect Wealdstone. It won't be a game that will phase them though and they will relish the task while also boasting an impressive track record against the stones.
Post-match views on today's game from Craig Fleming will be posted on the website tomorrow evening.