Lowestoft Town let a two-goal lead slip through their fingers against Ryman League Premier basement boys Maidstone United.

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The Blues were leading 3-1 going into the final 10 minutes but goals from Gary Wharton and Michael Phillips denied them all three points after they looked to have completed the hard part of their task.

The Trawlerboys were reduced to 10 men just before the break when Curtis Haynes-Brown was sent off but stormed into a two-goal lead courtesy of a brace from Matt Nolan.

Jay Saunders pulled a goal back for the visitors but when Nathan Paul put through his own net it looked to be game over. However, Maidstone refused to give in and struck twice in three minutes to grab a draw.

Lowestoft looked like a side that had only taken one point out of the last nine going into the game as Maidstone seized the initiative.

The Stones could have been ahead in the third minute when Alex Fisher got around the back of Andrew Cave-Brown before firing across the face of the goal and, fortunately for Lowestoft, Haynes-Brown hacked the ball clear.

From the resulting corner Lowestoft had another let-off when Saunders headed against the bar.

The Blues couldn’t get going and eight minutes before the break suffered a real blow when Haynes-Brown was given his marching orders. The former Sudbury man was left isolated at the back and when Ellis Green knocked the ball past him he hauled down the winger and the referee had little option but to brandish red.

Joe Francis was sacrificed to bring on Sam Gaughran and suddenly Lowestoft looked a lot more composed for the rest of the half.

They started the second period in the same fashion and, against all odds in the 50th minute, went in front thanks to a wonderful strike from Nolan. Maidstone goalkeeper Andy Walker was punished for a poor clearance when it went straight to the striker 35 yards from goal and he controlled the ball instantly before planting a beautiful lob into the net.

Three minutes later and Nolan gave Lowestoft some breathing space when he latched on to a great pass from Michael Frew and fired home from an acute angle.

Maidstone didn’t let their heads drop though and in the 55th minute a fine finish from Jay Saunders threw his side a lifeline.

But Lowestoft restored their two-goal advantage when Fisk’s harmless looking cross was headed into his own net by Paul.

That should have been the end of it but Maidstone showed tremendous character to get back into the game.

First substitute Gary Wharton scrambled the ball home to set Crown Meadow hearts fluttering and their fears were realised moments later when Michael Phillips headed home.

• Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Reynolds, Cave-Brown, Crane, Haynes-Brown, Smith, Forbes (Halliday 84), Ainsley, Fisk, Francis (Gaughran 42), Nolan (Corcoran 68), Frew. Subs not used: Stock, Godbold.

• Attendance: 511.

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