BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Lowestoft Town 2 (Linton 32 pen, Lopez 90+4)
Stratford Town 0
Report by Bryan Hale
FOR the second season running Lowestoft Town completed the double over Stratford Town, who are still looking to take their first point from the Trawlerboys after four league meetings.
Even without leading scorer Jake Reed who was sidelined by injury, they still had far more bite upfront than Paul Davis’s side, who disappointingly failed to build on the promise of their recent unbeaten three-game run and secured the points courtesy of a first-half penalty and a second goal with virtually the last kick of the game.
Town’s starting line-up showed one change from last weekend, with new signing Declan Benjamin replacing Reece Flanagan, who hadn’t recovered from the knock he picked up against Redditch.
A stiff wind was blowing diagonally across the ground straight from the North Sea which didn’t really favour either side, but it was the Trawlerboys who had the first serious goal attempt in the fifth minute, with Jacek Zielonka firing over from the edge of the penalty area.
Both sides were finding it difficult to cope with the breeze, but Rob Thompson-Brown’s persistence earned Town their first corner on 20 minutes while soon after at the other end Rhys Davies had to sprint a long way out of his area to kick clear as Zielonka chased after a long pass down the left.
Another Lowestoft attack ended with Davies making a routine save from a Malachi Linton header and they went the close to opening the scoring in the 27th minute when Marcus Wilkinson’s cross from the right reached the overlapping Josh Curry, whose fiercely struck drive skimmed the bar on its way behind.
But disaster struck Town in the 32nd minute when Kyle Rowley unluckily handled the ball as it bounced awkwardly in the penalty area and Linton thumped the spot-kick past Davies with the minimum of fuss.
It began to get a bit feisty with Lowestoft’s Curry, Connor Deeks and Adam Tann all picking up yellow cards, but in the middle of it all Wilkinson burst into the left of the Town penalty area five minutes before the break to clip the ball over Davies only to see it come back off the bar.
Then in first-half added time, Thompson-Brown hit a decent shot on the turn which Lowestoft keeper Luis Tibbles could only hold at the second attempt.
Kynan Isaac didn’t reappear for the second half after picking up an injury just before the break and was replaced by Bekir Halil.
The Trawlerboys squandered a great opportunity to double their lead a couple of minutes after the restart when Zielonka’s cross from the right found Wilkinson unmarked at the far post, but with only Davies to beat he completely miskicked and the chance was gone.
A minute or so later Thompson-Brown wasn’t far away with a 20-yard free-kick which fizzed inches wide of Tibbles’ left-hand post, but it was Lowestoft who were having more of the ball and it needed a point-blank Davies save from a Linton shot just after the hour mark to prevent Town going two down.
A rare Town breakaway saw Leam Howards force a corner which came to nothing, and as the Trawlerboys continued to push for the second goal which would surely settle the game, Davis sent on David Pitt and then Luke Barlone for Perry and Thompson-Brown respectively which meant three debutants for the afternoon as Town’s player count for the season reached 69.
As the game headed into its closing ten minutes Town somehow survived a couple of goalmouth scrambles, with Dan Vann blocking a goalbound effort from Zielonka and Davies beating away a close-range effort from Louis McIntosh.
Another Davies save at the feet of Dylan Ruffles with two minutes to go kept Town in the game, but four minutes into added time a scuffed clearance by the keeper was seized on by Miguel Lopez, who had the simple task of slotting the ball into the empty net with the final whistle following seconds later.
LOWESTOFT: Luis Tibbles, Josh Curry, Kyle Richardson, Connor Deeks, Travis Cole, Adam Tann (Miguel Lopez 46), Marcus Wilkinson (Dylan Ruffles 76 ), Ross Jarvis, Malachi Linton, Louis McIntosh, Jacek Zielinka (Quintino N’buque 85). Unused subs: Buster Honeywood, Jay Barbour.
TOWN: Rhys Davies, Dan Vann, Cody Fisher, Courtney Richards (c), Michael Townsend, Kyle Rowley, Rob Thompson-Brown (Luke Barlome 78), Declan Benjamin, Kyle Perry (David Pitt 69), Leam Howards, Kynan Isaac (Bekir Halil 46). Unused Subs – Mo Sebbeh-Njie & Luke Shearer