Jake Reed keeps Lowestoft firmly in the promotion picture
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It felt like the kind of moment that changes the course of a season.
The kind of moment when you suddenly feel that, despite all the trials and tribulations of the campaign so far, it could be your year.
When Jake Reed cleverly clipped Jack Ainsley's free-kick home in the fourth minute of injury time, supporters remembered what it felt like to support a team with a genuine chance of promotion.
Player exits, changes at boardroom level and some indifferent results have caused much consternation amongst some fans but Reed's finish restored the belief that this is a club still trying its best to move forward.
From being on the fringes of the play-offs, Lowestoft are now firmly in the promotion picture, two points outside the top five with a game in hand.
With all the sides above them dropping points (apart from Wealdstone, who didn't play) the Trawlerboys may even start to think they could set their sights even higher. We shall see.
A share of the spoils would have been the fairest result on Saturday. Lowestoft won the first half, Maidstone the second.
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Ironically it was at the very point the game looked to be slipping away from the Blues that they gained the lead. Chris Henderson's left-footed thunderbolt from the corner of the penalty area in the 73rd minute was good enough to win any game. Instead it merely gave Lowestoft the lead for less than 60 seconds as Maidstone went straight up the other end and equalised through Luke Rooney's deflected effort.
The victories earned on heavy pitches at Carshalton and Billericay looked to be taking their toll on the home side and if there was going to be a winner it didn't look like being the side in blue.
But when a free-kick was awarded 40 yards from goal deep into injury time a sense of anticipation engulfed the Meadow. Nobody tracked the lethal Reed's run to the near post and after being superbly picked out by Jack Ainsley, the striker cunningly altered the ball's trajectory to deceive Maidstone goalkeeper Lee Worgan.
Only time will tell how big a moment it is in Lowestoft's season but immediately after the game, director of football Craig Fleming admitted it felt like a turning point.
'The goal was huge,' he said. 'You get to the end (of the season) and you perhaps look back on moments like today and say 'that changed our season'. It's a funny year this year because previously there has always been one team that's run away with it. But this year there are numbers are up there – the top eight, perhaps nine are all sniffing around the play-off places. Everyone is going to take points off each other and there are going to be a lot of twists and turns before the end of the season.'
The latest twist was in Lowestoft's favour – it is up to them to ensure the next turn catapults them even further into the promotion mix when they go to bottom side Cray Wanderers next weekend.