Lowestoft’s fighting spirit carries the day
Lowestoft joint boss Ady Gallagher praised the Blues' fighting spirit after hitting back against ten-man Folkestone to keep alive their Conference South promotion dream.
The Trawlerboys went into their final Ryman Premier Division game of the regular season one of six clubs separated by just three points in the battle for the four play-off spots.
Folkestone striker James Dryden lashed a superb volley past Andy Reynolds within five minutes of the second period, but the visitors capitalised on Josh Burchell's sending off in the final quarter to wrestle back their promotion destiny.
Matt Nolan plundered a trademark close-range equaliser on 71 minutes before ex-Norwich City duo Adrian Forbes and Andrew Cave-Brown eased the Blues ahead and Russell Stock added a fourth deep in stoppage time.
Gallagher revealed Lowestoft's management team were far from happy with a lacklustre first-half display against the relegated strugglers which threatened to wreck their play-off bid.
'At half-time we had to emphasis again to the lads how important this game was to us and how we had been quite disappointed with the lack of drive,' he said.
'From our point of view there wasn't enough fight, which is unusual for us. There was a lot at stake and you can be calm, but perhaps we were too calm and in the first half we didn't show enough.
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'We learned from that and moved on. They scored a great goal, but these things happen. We conceded one like that on Easter Monday (against Bury) and you have to deal with it.
'But we showed we have mental strength and resilience, and even when we are up against it we can remain composed and pass the ball and create chances.'
Gallagher insists complacency was never an issue against relegated Invicta.
'We never underestimated these. I just don't think we played particularly well, and when you miss a glut of chances, what usually happens is you suffer a sucker punch,' he said.
'I felt there was a lack of urgency in the first half and a lack of drive, and we'll certainly need to play better than that to go any further.
'We got there in the end. It's never easy coming away from home. The pitch was dry and bobbly, but we carved out a few chances. Once we got one, I always felt confident we would go on and win the game.
'They got a man sent off, which helped us, but sometimes you can be a bit too direct against ten, and that plays into their hands.
'I was pleased with how we kept trying to pass the ball through midfield, and we started to get in behind them, around the sides – and from there we were able to get crosses in.'
Lowestoft wide player Lubomir Guentchev offered a productive supply line down the right flank with Nolan and Cave-Brown profiting from his deliveries.
Forbes despatched Andrew Fisk's flighted cross from the opposite flank and the ex-Canary could be in line for a start in tomorrow's play-off semi-final at Bury after replacing Jamie Forshaw.
The striker is a major doubt after limping away from this game on crutches with a hamstring injury.
'I would think it's pretty nailed on that he won't be fit in time,' said Gallagher.
'We have a good squad and Adrian Forbes is a quality player who I'm sure will be desperate to take his chance.
'We'll assess the situation and do what we feel is the best thing to win the game. We have some excellent strikers at the club.
'Matt Nolan missed a chance one-on-one with the keeper first half but he showed with his goal what he is all about. He just has that knack of hanging about the right areas in the penalty box and took his chance. Brilliant!
'If you keep getting in there you'll score. They had something to hang onto, so it wasn't easy. But once we got level and with plenty of time left there was always an opportunity for us to go on and win the game. Once we got the first I felt we'd always have enough to win the match.'