Lowestoft Town 2 Needham Market 0
17:21 12 July 2014
Lowestoft Town completed an impressive 2-0 win over Needham Market at Crown Meadow, but the victory came at a cost.
Second-half goals from Erkan Okay and Robert Eagle saw off the Marketmen, who play in the Ryman Division One North, two leagues below the Trawlerboys.
However, injuries to goalkeeper Ashlee Jones (shoulder) and Chris Henderson (thigh) in the first period could be a concern with less than a month to go before the start of the season.
The Crown Meadow faithful had their first glimpse of new signings Rickie Hayles and Jefferson Louis with the veteran striker, in particular, impressing in his first outing.
Lowestoft went with a starting XI that could quite conceivably line up for their Conference North opener against Choley on August 9.
Louis and Hayles both slotted in seamlessly to the 4-4-2 formation that served the Blues so well in their play-off campaign last season. Hayles was deployed at right back in the absence of Curtley Williams, who left for Luton this summer whilst Louis started alongside Shaun Bammant up front. Chris Henderson started from the left flank with Robert Eagle on the bench.
The Blues winger was unlucky not to open the scoring in the second minute when, after nice link-up play with Louis, his right-footed effort was tipped over the bar.
Bammant then went close with a header that Needham Market keeper James Barbrook did brilliantly to palm away and Henderson blazed the rebound over the bar.
Lowestoft then suffered two injury blows in the space of 10 minutes. Jones did wonderfully to dispossess Ryan Crisp in a one-on-one situation but it came at a price as the former Canvey man had to be substituted with a shoulder injury. Jake Jessup came on in his place.
It got worse for the Trawlerboys in the 35th minute when Henderson had to go off with a thigh injury with Eagle coming on in his place. The former Norwich City midfielder wasted little time in making his presence felt by curling a right-footed effort over the bar from 20 yards after nice approach play by Louis.
Needham almost got their noses in front before the break when Crisp ghosted past Curtis Haynes-Brown and Eagle before pulling the ball back for Kem Izzet, whose chipped effort clipped the top of the crossbar.
Lowestoft should have broken the deadlock early in the second half when Erkan Okay’s excellent run was found by Eagle leaving the midfielder with just substitute goalkeeper Andrew Plummer to beat. However, Okay got the ball caught under his feet and his pull-back for Bammant was poor leaving the former Dereham man with little chance of rescuing the move.
Eagle then went close with a driven left-footed effort from the edge of the area but the ball was deflected just wide.
Midway through the second period Lowestoft opened the scoring and it was a goal well worth waiting for. Joe Marsden, on for Hayles, rolled a nice ball into the path of Okay, who had made another lung-bursting run behind the Needham defence, and the former Histon man coolly rolled the ball home past Plummer.
Lowestoft were making their extra quality tell and should have doubled their lead shortly after when Bammant jinked his way through the Needham defence before skewing a left-footed shot just wide.
Louis then clattered the crossbar with a fine left-footed effort from 20 yards. However, Eagle rounded off a very good second-half performance with a curling free-kick from the edge of the area that left Plummer well beaten.
- Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Jones (Jessup 25), Hayles (Marsden 58), Gleeson, Gaughran, Haynes-Brown (Smith 46), Ainsley, Jarvis, Okay (Neto 79), Henderson (Eagle 35), Bammant, Louis. Subs not used: Lukasik, Edwards-King, Devillian, Bailey, Doddington.
- Attendance: 194