Full-time: Lowestoft Town 3 East Thurrock United 0
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Lowestoft Town have won their first match of 2014 after a comfortable 3-0 victory over struggling East Thurrock United at Crown Meadow this evening.
Lowestoft were yet to win this year and lost their second successive match on Saturday, when they disappointingly lost 3-1 at home to local rivals Bury Town.
Central midfielder Rossi Jarvis was missing for the Trawlerboys after coming off at half-time of Saturday's game with a hamstring problem, as was striker Chris Henderson, through illness.
Defender Dan Gleeson (foot) and striker Jake Reed (knee) both picked up knocks during Saturday's game as well but were fit enough to retain their starting places.
East Thurrock arrived without a win in their last 10 matches and just above the Ryman Premier relegation zone.
The Essex side were beaten 1-0 by the Trawlerboys in the semi-finals of the play-offs last season and seem to be suffering from a hangover from that disappointment.
Left winger Robert Eagle had the best chance of a quiet opening 15 minutes, arrowing a swerving left-footed shot towards the top-left corner from the edge of the box, which was held by visiting keeper David Hughes.
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A free-kick from midfielder Jack Ainsley from the left caused confusion in the 18th minute and saw the ball bouncing around loose in the East Thurrock box momentarily, but Hughes claimed it to thwart the danger.
There were some nervy moments for Lowestoft after left-back Adam Smith pulled visiting striker David Bryant back as he chased a long kick from his keeper, earning a yellow card and giving away a free-kick 30 yards out.
The free-kick from winger Mitchell Pinnock, on loan from Southend United, was poor and the subsequent two corners were dealt with reasonably comfortably by Lowestoft.
Centre-back Sam Gaughran nearly opened the scoring for the home side in the 33rd minute, meeting an Ainsley corner from the left with his head but saw his effort deflected just over the crossbar.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 41st minute thanks to a wonderful cross from Eagle wide on the left, drifting the ball over all of the East Thurrock defence to allow striker Jake Reed to power a header into the bottom left-hand corner.
It was a lead that the Trawlerboys just about deserved, in a first half which was competitive but lacking in quality on the whole, before Eagle teed up Reed for his 10th goal of the season.
Lowestoft set themselves well on their way to victory five minutes after the break after right-back Curtley Williams bombed forward and fired a cross into the East Thurrock box.
Striker Manny Osei controlled the cross and sharply turned to fire a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner past the outstretched glove of Hughes and make the score 2-0.
It was Osei's third goal of the season and the Blues nearly had a third on the night in the 56th minute, after Gaughran deflected a long-range effort from Gleeson into the net, wrong-footing the visiting keeper, but the defender was judged to have been offside.
The visitors had a reshuffle with two substitutes in the 64th minute and the changes nearly worked.
Pinnock was pushed forward and went clean through in the 70th minute before unleashing a shot towards the top-right corner from the right of the penalty area, but Lowestoft keeper Ashlee Jones turned the ball round his post for a corner.
Three minutes later the visitors had another chance, after central midfielder Andrew Fisk was booked for a tackle from behind around 30 yards from goal, but the resulting free-kick was poor and Jones claimed the cross.
But the Trawlerboys dug in to see out a largely uneventful closing period of the game - and get their 2014 up and running properly, with a late goal from substitute Michael Frew putting the icing on the cake deep into injury-time, firing into the bottom left-hand corner from the right of the penalty area.