Big chance for Lowestoft Town to ease fears of relegation
- Credit: Richard Calver
Relegation battles don't come any bigger for Lowestoft Town than this afternoon's clash against fellow strugglers Brackley Town.
Victory for the Blues would put further distance between themselves and the bottom three whilst plunging their rivals deeper into the relegation mire.
Defeat would signify an inevitably fraught end to the season which could culminate in the Trawlerboys losing their Conference status. The stakes couldn't be higher.
The table at least looks a lot healthier than it did midway through February when a combination of postponements and loss of form saw Lowestoft sit rock bottom.
Jack Ainsley's departure to Leiston only gave the doubters more ammunition that a return to the Ryman League, and more paletable away trips, next season was inevitable.
But seven points out of a possible nine from three home games catapulted Lowestoft off the foot of the table. Key to that points haul has been the form of Michael Spillane and on-loan Southend defender Harry Kyprianou.
Spillane's return from a four-match suspension alongside Kyrpianou's arrival has given the Blues the defensive stability they lost in the summer with the departures of Sam Gaughran, Omar Sowunmi, Curtis Haynes-Brown and latterly Dan Gleeson.
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Ainsley's versatility provided a temporary bandaid but once that left for their Suffolk rivals there looked to be a big hole at the heart of Lowestoft's back four.
Bringing in Kyprianou at just 18 was a risk but, with a small budget in comparison to many other National League clubs, it is one that had to be taken.
The risk has so far paid off and the news that the tall defender has agreed to stay until the end of the season at least tempered some of the frustration felt by last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Chorley.
With the level Lowestoft are at they have little choice but to beg, borrow and steal younger players from clubs higher up the food chain.
Manager Ady Gallagher, inset, can point to a body of work that has seen the likes of Curtley Williams, Haynes-Brown and Sowunmi go on to bigger clubs.
If Kyprianou continues developing then the likelihood of him staying at Crown Meadow diminishes each game but you won't find anyone complaining if he helps keep Lowestoft's head above water.
Kyprianou will start at home this afternoon and Gallagher is counting on the Crown Meadow faithful to play their part.
'It obviously helps when they are really behind us and it's up to myself and the players to give them something to shout about,' he said. 'We know home games are really important to us and we need to pick up as many points as we can.
'But after Saturday (defeat at Chorley) we need to step it up again.'