Lowestoft Town 3 Harrow Borough 0
By Terry Bullen
Lowestoft Town book their place in the play-offs with a 3-0 home win over Harrow Borough.
Lowestoft Town: Jones, Williams (Jack Ainsley 38 mins), Gleeson, Gaughran, Smith, Henderson (Haynes-Brown 80 mins), Jarvis, Fisk, Eagle, Bammant (Frew 89 mins), Reed
Subs; Jack Ainsley, Haynes-Brown, Stuart Ainsley, Frew, Jessup
Harrow Borough: Shea, Barima, Louth, Williams (Taylor 72 mins), Gilbert, Page, Dyer, Wolleaston, Charles-Smith, Butterworth (Akinola 72 mins), Osobu (Debattista 58 mins)
Subs; Lucien, Debattista, Cooper, Taylor, Akinola
Lowestoft Town book their place in the play-offs with a 3-0 home win over Harrow Borough and will now be away to Bognor Regis Town on Wednesday night in the play-off semi-final.
Harrow Borough came into the game with nothing to play for but had won their last three away games and were looking to end the season on a high. While Lowestoft were fully focused on getting the win to secure a place in the play-offs for the fourth season in succession, after narrowly losing out in the final over the past three season.
Lowestoft were missing the suspended Okay, while Williams returned and Monday's two goal hero Jack Ainsley dropped to the bench. For Harrow Borough both Lucien and Akinola, who have caused problems for Lowestoft in the past, both started on the bench.
The match got underway with the earlier rain having passed but a swirling breeze in the air and Lowestoft Town supporters waving flags in the stand and on the touchline.
An early Lowestoft chance came along in the fourth minute as Reed spun on the ball in the Harrow box but his effort whistled fractionally past the post.
At the other end, Fisk gave away possession for Lowestoft and when trying to win the ball back he committed a foul out on the right hand side of the box, which Louth stepping up for the away side and bending a sharply taken free-kick inches past the far upright.
It had been a frantic and high tempo opening fifteen minutes to the match but the signs were good for the home supporters, as Lowestoft had started with a lot of positivity to their play. Good passing and movement were seeing the likes of Eagle, Henderson, Reed and others getting joy in and around the final third.
On a couple of occasions Harrow nearly got in with good balls being played to their forward men but both Gaughran and then Gleeson dealt with the balls and danger superbly, showing why the blues defence has been so solid all season long.
Harrow have proven to be a dangerous outfit in the past, who are full of pace and always looking for the quick break from their half. The Lowestoft defence had held their line well so far but with Osobu beating the offside trap and in on goal, he tried to round the keeper and with the referee well positioned for any mistimed move by the keeper; Jones got a well timed and strong hand to the ball to divert it behind.
As the half hour mark approached Harrow were using their pace and width to good effect and with Butterworth looking very good on the ball with some good touches and movement, the game started to even out.
Henderson was having a great tussle out wide with Harrow midfield Dyer, as he wrestled back the advantage for Lowestoft, who were looking to take it up a gear before the break. A shot from Jarvis was blocked as it fell nicely for him to hit on the edge of the area but as halftime approached Lowestoft were hit with a blow. After clattering into the advertising boards heavily with his shoulder, Williams had to be replaced by Jack Ainsley with the powerful defender in considerable pain and receiving lengthy treatment on the touchline before eventually leaving the pitch and having an ambulance called to his aid.
It was a blow for Williams and Lowestoft but smiles soon returned to faces around the Crown Meadow, when Eagle picked a ball up from fully twenty-five yards out and hit an absolute pearler, that hit the inside of the upright and into the goal for 1-0 (44 mins). It was a strike right out of the top draw and a goal that saw Lowestoft leave the pitch at the break leading.
It was close to being the perfect of starts for Lowestoft in the second half, when a great cross from Smith found Henderson with time and space in the area but instead of trapping the ball and using the time he had, he struck it first time and screwed the ball off target and across the box.
Henderson was then involved again with a menacing run towards the Harrow defence, before finding Reed on the edge of the area but after jinking to work space for a shot, Lowestoft's leading scorer sent his effort wide of the target.
Lowestoft were on the front foot, looking sharp and retaining plenty of possession, as a one two between Reed and Jack Ainsley nearly forced another goal for the blues.
Lowestoft were now clearly on top and looking comfortable, as Harrow turned to the bench for their first change to replace Osobu with Debattista. The change initially saw the away side win back their fair share of possession but with Lowestoft keeper Jones vocally instructing his team mates, the Lowestoft defence looked solid and comfortable, as they restricted Harrow to very little.
After a brief spell of possession for the away side, both Jarvis and Fisk started to take full control in midfield for Lowestoft and with one goal always being a nervy advantage to have, Lowestoft doubled their lead. Reed slipped a simple pass to his left to set Eagle up for the shot but with his shot being blocked it look as if the chance was gone, until Bammant somehow wrapped his foot around the ball while on the deck, to hook it home and into the far side of the net for 2-0 (68 mins). It was his first goal for Lowestoft since joining on loan a few weeks ago and was a deserved goal after impressing since his arrival.
Harrow made their two final changes from the bench as they tried to look for a way to break down a resolute Lowestoft defence and a comfortable looking Lowestoft team.
Things then got worse for the away side, as Fisk and Reed combined but with the move coming to nothing a frustrated Page aimed a head butt towards Fisk in the Harrow defence and after a brief moment of thought, the referee showed him a straight red and Harrow were now down to ten.
Ten minutes of the game remained and with Henderson having got through a large amount of work, Haynes-Brown was introduced from the bench.
He'd hardly been on the field for long, as Haynes-Brown brilliantly charged forward from the back while carrying the ball and sent a great ball across the area to find Reed and with just the keeper to beat, Shea stood big in the Harrow goal and threw out a strong hand to make a great stop.
The game was now into the final minutes and with Jack Ainsley getting forward down the right and beating three men to get into the box, he squared the ball back to Fisk but his shot was blocked well by the defender.
Lowestoft were seeing out the game affectively and with Frew replacing Bammant, Lowestoft added a cherry on top with Jack Ainsley feeding Frew shortly after coming on and the Lowestoft forward slipping it home and past the keeper for 3-0 (90 mins).
Stoppage timed slipped away and the final whistle sounded, as Lowestoft claimed a play-off spot for the fourth season in succession.
As a team, Lowestoft produced the creative edge to get the goals but also worked hard to not only restricted Harrow to very little in front of goal but to retain possession and deservedly claim a comfortable win.
Henderson got through a lot of work during the game and was a menace to the away side. While Jarvis and Fisk took ownership of the midfield, especially in the second half. The Lowestoft defence looked tight and not for the first time both Gleeson and Gaughran were switched on and worked well as a partnership in defence. It was a game that was all about the team and each and every player did their part. Therefore when it comes to the Man of the Match it's a very tough choice but for such a super striker and important opening goal, along with his good involvement in the game, my Man of the Match is Robert Eagle.
It cannot be stressed enough what a fantastic achievement it is for the management and players to yet again capture a play-off spot, in a season that has probably been their toughest so far with injuries and a smaller squad to work with.
I'm sure I speak for every supporter and every board member in saying a massive well done to the team and management in making the play-offs. Best wishes also go out to Curtley Williams following what looked like a nasty injury to his shoulder; speedy recovery.
Lowestoft Town now face a lengthy away trip to Bognor Regis Town on Wednesday night for the play-off semi-final and will head into the game full of confidence.
Places on the coach to this match can be booked from 5pm on Sunday by calling or texting 07879496895.