Lowestoft Town 2 Wealdstone 1
22:37 02 May 2012
Â© Archant 2012
Penalty king Dean Sinclair kept his cool from the spot to book Lowestoft Town’s place in the Ryman League Premier final last night.
The former Norwich City midfielder struck in the fifth minute of injury time in a dramatic finale after Lubo Guentchev had been brought down by Scott McCubbin.
Wealdstone had levelled early in the second half through Scott Fitzgerald after Chris Henderson had given Lowestoft the lead in the first period.
However, the visitors shot themselves in the foot in three mad minutes late on when Chris O’Leary and Sean Cronin were both shown red cards. Lowestoft poured forward looking to make the extra men count and when Guentchev was fouled it gave Sinclair made no mistake from 12 yards to book a trip to AFC Hornchurch on Monday.
Lowestoft were in the ascendancy early on and the Blues had a penalty claim turned down in the seventh minute when Joe Francis was brought down inside the penalty area by Sean Cronin but the referee was unimpressed.
Lowestoft’s inspired start had rattled the visitors – the only thing that was missing was a goal but Henderson remedied this in the 22nd minute.
Dean Sinclair played a clever ball behind the Wealdstone full-back Alan Massey to release Scott Mitchell in the penalty area. The former Ipswich Town man’s effort was blocked but the ball only went as far as Henderson, who slammed the ball home from eight yards.
Wealdstone showed nothing as an attacking force in the opening period much to the irritation of their star striker Richard Jolly, who hadn’t come anywhere near to a sight of goal to add to the 48 he plundered in the league this season.
Sam Gaughran hadn’t put a foot wrong while Jake Jessup was a commanding presence in goal in the absence of Andy Reynolds due to an ankle injury.
Frew, fresh from his brace against champions Billericay on Saturday, had a rasping 30-yard effort at the start of the second half but Jones held well.
Wealdstone had offered very little going forward but just after the hour-mark they pulled themselves level. Lee Chappell made good progress down the left and his deep cross evaded Jessup for Fitzgerald to steal in at the back post to nod home.
Crown Meadow had suddenly fallen flat although Henderson had a decent chance to restore the Blues lead but his header from a Greg Crane cross was straight at Jones.
However, Wealdstone inexplicably lost their discipline late on when they were reduced to nine men during three mad minutes.
First O’Leary was shown a second yellow card for shoving Mitchell before Cronin was shown a straight red for a two-footed challenge on Dean Sinclair. The indiscipline extended to the visitors’ bench when a member of their backroom staff was ordered away from the touchline.
It was surely only a matter of time before Lowestoft made the extra men count but they waited until the 95th minute to get it. Henderson’s cross from the left found Guentchev at the back post and when the midfielder skipped past McCubbin the defender scythed him down and the referee pointed to the spot.
Sinclair stepped up to calmly slot the ball home and book a play-off final date with AFC Hornchurch on Monday.
Lowestoft (4-4-2): Jessup, Mitchell, Gaughran (Gaughran 90), Crane, Smith, Guentchev, Fisk (Cockrill 73), Sinclair, Francis, Frew, Henderson. Subs not used: Forbes, Forshaw, Ainsley, Stone.
Wealdstone (4-4-2): Jones, McCubbin, Parker, Cronin, Massey (Pett 62), Brooks, Dyer, O’Leary, Chappell, Fitzgerald (Smith 84), Jolly. Subs not used: Dean, Smith, Mulley, Hammond.
Referee: Marc Wilson