Lowestoft Town 2 Stockport County 2( Vanarama National League North) 21 November 2015
This…..from every conceivable angle was pure torture…..the journey from SK3 to the far east a mind numbing 6 hours long…..the weather on arrival fit to discourage even the most stubbornly optimistic of supporters….the rain sledging down relentlessly to the unwelcome accompaniment of Hurricane Herbert that looked fit to lift the old main stand from its foundations!
Right up to the kick off …the game was in doubt, but, credit to the referee Mr Betts, it went ahead, and although the playing surface was lumpy as hell…it was eminently playable throughout.
For a time it looked as though County had the measure of their opponents…going into the lead within 4 minutes through a strike by Kirby , a lead that was doubled 8 minutes into the second half. It proved to be illusory however, as a 2-0 lead they still held with 15 minutes left was surrendered meekly first when Hurst palmed a ball tamely out to Dean Mason who scored from no distance at all, and the equaliser came via the very last action in 6 long minutes of added time.
Unfortunate? Probably…..( Lame Cliché Alert !)…..but you make your own luck and this game could and should have been put beyond Lowestoft long before half time never mind the time added on, but chances came …and went without being taken! Oh…..and we had a pretty decent referee in Mr Betts, who did not miss a lot and was generally even handed, so we had every chance to make up some lost ground…..but we fluffed it!
Back to 3 o’clock and it was positively taters stood about on the Crown Meadow terracing. I was in full Arctic kit, supplemented by some upper lip lagging courtesy of http://mobro.co/ianbrown95 , and had fed myself suitably via 2 of 4 separate food outlets on the ground, but the cold was still penetrating well beyond the layers!
That said, it was good to see the players emerge with the officials, and the game commence on time, and it was soon apparent that County were the first to look to make the conditions irrelevant, and Roberts was in the van of a number of penetrating moves down the left in the opening couple of minutes, the best of these seeing Kirby on the end of the fullback’s ball.
The raid ended at the by-line but it was a promising start.
Less promisingly…..Lowestoft broke almost immediately from that last action through Mason, and only good work by Connolly prevented an early disappointment for County.
|Connolly emerges with the ball.|
Hmmm….an interesting opening …….but it got even more interesting , on 4 minutes, as with County piling forward into the box, Jake Kirby slammed the ball home from close in to give County a welcome early lead.
The pressure from County continued, mostly through Roberts who continues to belie his age with some excellent performances. First off he linked up with Odejayi forcing a corner. Keeper Ben Killip did well to punch clear from Roberts’ follow up cross, and punch out again a couple of minutes later as another Roberts cross pinged in.
It was all County at this point and a second goal would not have been a tremendous surprise, but despite good approach play by Odejayi and Garvin, nothing emerged on the end of it to make my dream reality!
Evans did look to have sneaked clear, on 10 minutes, but Jack Ainsley conceded a corner when much worse threatened, and it was there that this break broke down, as the poorest of corners from Kirby failed to test Killip.
A second goal at that point might have had a severely deleterious effect on the Tractor Boys morale, instead the opposite happened and they attacked us, and for a time the pressure was on Hurst and company. Thankfully County’s cover held and Town’s proficiency at corners proved no better than ours, so it stayed 1-0.
County weathered perhaps 3 minutes of pressure from the home team, emerging to hit their opponents on the break, and Kirby was unlucky to see Killip dive to keep his strike out in the 17th minute. The 18th ushered in a Roberts free kick and it was a decent one, but although Odejayi got to it, his header was ushered clear by Ross Jarvis, who had tracked back to do some defending.
Encouraging?.....yes…and more followed, but Evans nippy run was cut abruptly short by a foul, but County ‘s set piece proved not to be up to scratch.
This continued with neat play by Evans seeing Odejayi go close, but Kirby went even closer…..stinging Killip’s fingers with an on target effort just about 30 minutes in.
We were into the last 15 minutes of the half now, and County were making great headway down the flanks…as usual however….the finish was lacking, but perhaps……today….maybe……
A nice thought for sure, and Evans again managed to turn his man inside out in concert with the excellent Roberts, only to ruin his own good work by lifting his shot over the bar. This was from a teasing angle it must be admitted, but sooner rather than later we have got to start converting this type of chance/half chance.
The 33rd minute saw Garvin replaced by Lamin Colley, having sustained an injury earlier.
I am not sure that the personnel change was responsible, but within a couple of minutes County had themselves a gilt edged chance, set up by Tonge’s cross from the right and advanced by Ainsleys total inability to clear his lines. It really was a good chance…the ball was on the deck and within a yard of Evans, but he failed to take advantage of the confusion in the midst of Town’s defenders, dithering long enough to allow a clearance to be made!
That was dismaying, but more followed and not long after….
Killip had just flapped and punched, one of a series of corners clear, when again the ball came back his way via Evans who destroyed the cover down the right before sending a cross over that seemed to totally bamboozle Killip…Ainsley and company, so much so that both the aforementioned missed it…the ball coming to rest alongside Colley about a yard out. It was clear however that the young forward did not know where the ball was, and before he could sort himself out, the ball had been belted clear…chance gone…travelling fans utterly beside themselves with frustration!
That really should have seen County cruise clear….but it was still 1-0, and stayed that way until half time despite a couple of decent breaks initiated by Mason. A neat stop from Hurst, and an optimistic `handball’ cry from the locals at one point, that Mr Betts rightfully ignored, served to enliven the last few minutes of the half, but it stayed 1-0.
Lowestoft opened the second half on the attack, getting forward far more than in the whole of the first half, but the end product was not great from them and although Hurst had an increased work load to cope with, there was nothing untoward at all about Town’s work, and the County keeper looked untroubled.
By contrast County looked better organised at the other end, and Evans was making a mug of the fullback a time or two. Indeed 8 minutes into the half the Evans handiwork declared a dividend , his pull back teeing Joyce up to slam a belter beyond Killip’s dive into the net!
Lowestoft looked shell shocked at this point- Evans and Kirby combining to terrorise the home defence, that somehow survived, and they survived again a couple of minutes later ,Colley looking aghast to see his shot drift past the post with Killip a helpless spectator.
It went on….a Roberts/ Kirby free kick promising much…but not delivering. Kirby looked about to make amends shortly after ,but his lively run was halted by a foul, and the free kick on this occasion saw the liners flag come to Town’s aid.
With hail pinging down on us under doom laden clouds ,County’s fortunes took a turn for the worst as Lady Luck’s fashion accessory hit us amidships again, when Hurst let a cross slip from his grasp into the path of Dean Mason who gleefully toe poked it over the line from half a yard out!
Bugger……and to make matters worse, Hurst had to go off injured, being replaced by Ian Ormson.
Lowestoft continued to press after the goal, but much as before, County’s attacking looked to have more threat about it, but frustratingly after Rule had set Colley up with a powerful run and pass, he elected to pass to Joyce rather than shoot himself, and the mid fielder’s shot thudded into the advertising hoardings inches wide rather than the net.
That was another crucial moment in the game, and seemed to instil fresh hope in the home side who pushed on lumping a series of high ones into the maelstrom above our heads towards Ormson.
County coped OK…..despite the odd outbreak of handbags at one point, but there were 6 whole minutes of added time to endure, and in the last of these the ball reached Shaun Bammant, standing in splendid isolation beyond the last County outfield player. He headed home to the utter joy of the locals and our absolute dismay!
Almost straight away the final whistle went and that was that…what had looked to be a comfortable victory turned out to be nothing of the kind!
It was ever thus I am told, but I couldn`t possibly comment on that one,except to say here’s to Tuesday and the chance to put things right!
Lowestoft Town line up:
Killip, Barker, Smith, Fisk, Ainsley, Spillane,Mason, Jarvis( Woods –Garness 83), Reed, Crow, Henderson( Bammant 69).
Subs not used:
Stockport County line up:
Hurst ( Ormson 75), Tonge, Roberts, Connolly, O’Hanlon, Joyce, Evans, Rule, Odejayi, Garvin( Colley 33/ Killock 88), Kirby.
Subs not used: