Blues win seven-goal thriller
Lowestoft Town 4, East Thurrock United 3: Promotion rivals Lowestoft Town and East Thurrock United served up a seven-goal thriller with the Blues winning by the odd goal.
Lowestoft Town 4, East Thurrock United 3
Promotion rivals Lowestoft Town and East Thurrock United served up a seven-goal thriller with the Blues winning by the odd goal.
Matty Potter replaced Carl Poppy in the starting line-up with a place on the bench for Matthew Halliday and Scott Mitchell after injury enforced breaks.
Lowestoft made a bright start with Matt Nolan releasing Joe Francis whose cross found Gary McGee whose header was tipped over the bar by Richard Wray.
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A Joe Francis corner saw Gary Holt's header blocked with Craig Bussens narrowly over the top from the rebound.
East Thurrock were keen to attack at every opportunity but their speedy forwards were not creating too many openings. Max Cornhill should have done better than drift a shot wide when well placed in front of goal.
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Matt Nolan and Joe Francis both had shots blocked as Lowestoft continued to press. An Adam Smith free kick saw Gary Holt power a header goalwards only for Richard Wray to produce a tremendous finger tip save.
Matt Nolan returned the ball into the middle where Gary McGee's header dropped onto the roof of the net. Richard Wray saved Matt Nolan's 30-yard effort and then dived bravely to claim the ball at the feet of Andrew Fisk.
The goal that had been threatened finally arrived in the 36th minute as Andrew Fisk played the ball forward, Gary Holt nodded on and Matt Nolan's dummy let the ball run for Craig Bussens to drive home off the keeper's body.
That goal gave East Thurrock a lift and they levelled the scores just four minutes later. Kris Newby was played away down the right and he pulled the ball back for Sam Berry to knock into the net from six yards.
The Rocks then stunned Lowestoft with a second goal on the stroke of half-time as Kye Ruel was left unmarked to chip the ball over Andy Reynolds into the net.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half was a scrappy affair but the Blues played a master stroke as Scott Mitchell and Jamie Forshaw were sent on in place of Craig Bussens and Gary McGee with Joe Francis taking up a more central striking role.
The move paid almost immediate dividends as Joe Francis turned and volleyed over Richard Wray from 20 yards to level the scores.
Two minutes later and the Blues were ahead again as Matt Nolan fed Francis to shoot across the keeper into the far corner
East Thurrock though hit back and it took an excellent diving save from Andy Reynolds to turn away a shot from the division's leading scorer Sam Higgins.
However, the Rocks again levelled the scores in the 69th minute. Max Cornhill moved the ball forward before clipping the ball to Sam Berry who nodded the ball back into the path of Cornhill to shoot past Reynolds.
With 10 minutes left Lowestoft again moved ahead with a cross from the left held up by Matt Nolan who teed the ball up for Joe Francis to complete his hat-trick with a shot just inside the near post.
The thrills did not end there though as East Thurrock fought back and had a great chance to claim a last minute equaliser as Sam Higgins raced through but pulled the ball back but behind three colleagues who were racing up in support.
Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Plaskett, Smith, Holt, Crane, Potter, Bussens (Sub Forshaw 56), Fisk, Nolan (Sub Bloomfield (88), McGee (Sub Mitchell 56), Francis, Subs (not used) Halliday, Poppy.
East Thurrock United: Wray, Sammons, Duffy, Wood, Donovan, Sheehan, Newby (Sub Collins 55), Cornhill, Berry (Sub Barry 85), Higgins, Ruel, Subs (not used) Harrison, Ellerbeck, Bradford.