Hitchin Town 1, Lowestoft Town 3
A stunning Scott Mitchell strike 15 minutes from time put Lowestoft on the path to the next round of the FA Trophy at Hitchin on Saturday.
Mitchell – returning to the side after missing eight games through injury – netted a wonderful volley to put the Trawlerboys ahead in the tie for the first time and a late penalty sealed their victory.
Lowestoft, who net �3,000 in prize money from Saturday's result, now advance to the third qualifying round later this month, hoping to book a place in the first round proper.
Mitchell was asked to fill a central defensive position with Sam Gaughran stepping down to the bench. Erkan Okay also returned to the side after a similar injury absence, taking over the right back role.
Lowestoft looked comfortable at the outset but were stunned as Hitchin took a 12th minute lead with their first attack. Ieuan Lewis played the ball through the Lowestoft defence and keeper Andy Reynolds looked favourite to get there first, until he slipped on the greasy turf allowing John Frendo to take the ball past him and shoot into an empty net.
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Moments later Reynolds redeemed himself with a diving save to push another goalbound effort from Frendo round the base of the post.
Lowestoft soon regained their composure and levelled the scores in the 19th minute with Matt Nolan scoring against the club which launched his career. This goal also stemmed from a defensive mistake as Marc Leach's miscontrol sent the ball into the path of the Trawlerboys striker, who went round keeper Martin Bennett to shoot into the unguarded net.
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It was all Lowestoft for the remainder of the first half with Lubo Guentchev's 25-yard effort saved one handed by Bennett. Another defensive error gave Nolan the chance for a second goal, but his shot spiralled up off the body of Bennett onto the roof of the net, a fate that befell a Joe Francis effort moments later.
Bennett was excelling in the home goal and he produced another full length save to save an Adam Smith free-kick.
The second half started more slowly with Bennett again saving at full stretch from Guentchev, while at the other end a curling effort from Callum Donnelly just cleared the bar. Substitute Michael Frew replaced Adrian Forbes and within a minute he turned on a Smith pass to force Bennett into another fine save.
Lowestoft finally moved ahead in the 76th minute with a goal worthy of winning any game. Greg Crane's long free-kick into the home penalty area was headed away by Dean Gilbert but as it fell to Mitchell he hit it on the volley, sending the ball rocketing into the top corner of the net from fully 25 yards.
There was almost a third goal shortly afterwards as Nolan jumped to nod the ball over Bennett but the keeper somehow dived backwards to scoop the ball around the post.
Any anxiety the Trawlerboys felt was banished in the 87th minute when Frendo sent Andrew Fisk tumbling in the penalty area, with Francis calmly despatching the resulting penalty.
• Hitchin Town: Bennett, Pepper, Leach, Stewart, Gilbert, Lee, Donnelly (Cole, 71), Gregson (Arlick, 80), Burke, Frendo, Lewis. Subs (not used) Fontenelle, Pedrycz, Edgerley.
Goal: Frendo (12)
• Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Okay, Smith, Fisk, Crane, Mitchell, Guentchev (Onuchukwu, 75), Cockrill, Nolan, Forbes (Frew, 63), Francis. Subs (not used) Gaughran, Ainsley, Forshaw.
Goals: Nolan (19), Mitchell (76), Francis (pen, 87)
• Attendance: 282