Lowestoft Town 1, East Thurrock 1
21:56 13 March 2012
Lowestoft Town endured another frustrating night at Crown Meadow as the Blues lost further ground in the Ryman League Premier title race after being held by East Thurrock.
On a night when Lowestoft had the chance to put the pressure on their championship rivals, the Trawlerboys struggled to carve out many clear chances and had to rely on Dean Sinclair’s equaliser to rescue a point after Sam Higgins had put the visitors ahead from the spot.
More bad news came through for Blues fans at the final whistle as they learned that AFC Hornchurch had beat Carshalton leaving the Crown Meadow outfit once again playing catch-up at the top of the table.
Lowestoft were almost ahead after just 48 seconds when Robert Eagle saw a fine 25-yard effort tipped over the bar but that was about as close as the Blues got in the first half.
East Thurrock gradually grew into the contest and should have had a penalty in the 18th minute when the lively Kye Ruel jinked his way past Matthew Halliday only for the former Norwich City man to clip his heels. The players waited for referee Darren Stobbart to point to the spot but the decision never came and Lowestoft breathed a sigh of relief.
The referee appeared intent on making two wrongs a right just before the half-hour mark when Chris Henderson was bundled over by Marc Gorbell inside the Thurrock penalty area but again Stobbart was unimpressed.
Henderson brought a good save out of Wray after nice interplay with Nolan but in the 35th minute the referee finally pointed to the spot when Erkan Okay clipped Higgins in the box after some nice footwork from the striker. Higgins picked himself up and rammed home the penalty and Lowestoft had a mountain to climb.
Lowestoft looked the brighter side at the start of the second half with Sinclair going close with a header but in the 52nd minute the Blues were almost caught on the break.
A long ball over the top released Higgins behind Halliday but with just Reynolds to beat his lobbed effort went just over the bar.
The let-off appeared to galvanise the Blues and in the 59th minute they found an equaliser. Halliday had a header brilliantly cleared off the line by Simon Peddle but the rebound fell to Sinclair, who rifled the ball home from 10 yards.
Sinclair almost went from hero to villain in the 70th minute when he lost the ball to Ruel in the centre circle allowing Thurrock to break on the Blues. Ruel fed the dangerous Higgins, who made good progress down the left before crossing for Ruel, who scuffed his shot wide from the edge of the area.
There was yet another penalty shout late on when Halliday looked to have been brought down but the referee waved away the Blues appeals.
• Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Reynolds, Okay, Mitchell, Halliday, Smith, Fisk, Sinclair, Eagle (Francis, 81), Guentchev (Frew, 88), Henderson, Nolan (Stone, 77). Subs not used: Godbold, Forbes.
• East Thurrock (4-5-1): Wray, Sammons, Peddle, Gorbell, Stephen, Newby, Gilbey, Collins, Cohen, Ruel (Keith, 82), Higgins. Subs not used: Cook, Hewitt, Devereux, Riley.
• Referee: Darren Stobbart
• Attendance: 541