Lowestoft Town 0 Thurrock 1
Lowestoft Town slipped to a bitterly disappointing defeat at home to lowly Thurrock last night as their title hopes suffered an almighty dent.
The Trawlerboys dominated much of the contest but could not capitalise on their superiority and the visitors took full advantage in the 36th minute through Charlie Stimson's close range strike.
Lowestoft toiled in the second half in search of an equaliser but Hakeem Araba and Michael Frew were guilty of missing good chances.
League leaders Whitehawk were the big winners on the evening without playing a game. Third-placed Concord Rangers also lost at home to Hendon and the Sussex outfit's title destiny is now firmly in their hands due to a superior goal difference as they sit at the summit 15 points clear of the Blues, who have five games in hand.
Lowestoft could have been in front after eight minutes when Josh Dawkin got in behind the Thurrock defence before pulling the ball back for Araba but, just as the big striker looked all set to poke the ball home, Mark Onyenmah got back in to clear from inside his six-yard area.
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Dawkin, in for the injured Chris Henderson, was looking lively when wandering off the left flank and only a good save by Wil Viner denied the former Norwich City man after he latched on to Araba's lay-off.
It was one-way traffic for the first 25 minutes and Araba had a fantastic chance to break the deadlock when he shrugged off the attention of Matt Turpin to go through on goal. The former Whitehawk striker had just Viner to beat but, with the ball bobbling, he slammed the ball against the legs of the Thurrock 'keeper.
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Blake Saker had to be withdrawn with a knee injury in the 36th minute prompting a reshuffle as Joe Benjamin took his place. Thurrock took advantage as Lowestoft came to terms with the changes as Stimson headed Darren Ebsworth's cross against the crossbar. The rebound dropped to Danny Green but he also saw his header come off the woodwork and the ball was hacked clear.
However, just a minute later the visitors got their noses in front when Green wriggled free down the left before pulling the ball back for Stimson, who had the simple task of tapping the ball home.
Lowestoft desperately went in search of an equaliser at the start of the second half and Araba should have done better when he bundled his way into the Thurrock penalty area before blazing over the bar.
Benjamin's audacious effort with the outside his left foot from 20 yards was inches away from being Lowestoft level but shortly after they had a massive let-off. Lee Smith's backpass to Andy Reynolds fell short and Lewis Perkins was through on goal but the Blues' shot-stopper made an excellent save.
Jack Defty was thrown on midway through the second half and the former King's Lynn man started causing problems. He teed up Frew in the 69th minute but the striker's effort was tame and straight down the throat of Viner.
The Thurrock keeper made a hash of dealing with a Scott Mitchell free-kick moments later when he parried into the path of Dawkin but he couldn't nod home from close range.
- Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Reynolds, Saker (Benjamin 36), Mitchell, Gleeson, Ainsley, L Smith, Fisk, Okay, Dawkin (Eagle 80), Frew, Araba (Defty 68). Subs not used: A Smith, Cunningham.
- Thurrock (4-5-1): Viner, Jones, Jeffries, Turpin, Onyenmah, Perkins (Jones 68), Smith, Spence, Green, Ebsworth, Stimson. Subs not used: Griffin, Dixon, Honesty, Hughes.
- Referee: Paul Burnham
- Attendance: 393