Lowestoft Town 0 Tonbridge Angels 1
- Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images
Lowestoft Town's unbeaten start to their Ryman Premier Division campaign has been brought to an end by a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Tonbridge Angels.
Nathan Elder's powerful header in the 81st minute was enough to win the game for the visitors at Crown Meadow, as they continued their 100 per cent start, showing no apparent hangover from their play-off semi-final defeat last season.
Lowestoft were looking to continue an unbeaten start themselves, following an excellent 3-1 win at Bognor Regis last weekend and a 1-1 home draw with Needham Market in midweek, but endured a frustrating afternoon.
Ady Gallagher retained the same outfield starting line-up from those opening two matches but was without unavailable goalkeeper Jamie Waite, so handed Jake Jessup has first start of the campaign.
The match got off to a poor start, with Lowestoft getting to grips with a strong wind blowing in their faces and Tonbridge trying to use the conditions in their favour.
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That wind saw Jack Parter's long throw from the left bounce through a crowded penalty area but winger Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson could only hook over the crossbar for the visitors.
Jessup was forced into a couple of strong punches as the ball swirled around at set-pieces and then saw a kick from his opposite number travel the length of the pitch, with Luke Blewden nipping in to poke past the keeper, but Frazer Blake-Tracy watched closely as the ball rolled wide.
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The game then became more physical, with Blake-Tracy booked for a heavy tackle on Fortnam-Tomlinson on the right. Harry Barker then followed suit on the other side of the pitch, clattering unnecessarily into Nick Wheeler to also earn a yellow card.
Sonny Miles talked his way into the referee's notebook soon after and Jessup was also booked before the break, charging out of his goal and bringing down Blewden just outside his area as the striker beat him to the ball.
The Trawlerboys tried to keep the ball on the floor as the half progressed and some good passing brought their best chance of the half in the 42nd minute, when Jamie Forshaw held up Blake-Tracy's clearance nicely and spread the ball right to Ryan Jarvis, who set Barker away down the wing, with the full-back's cross just alluding Forshaw to get his head to.
The visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening stages of the second half, despite Lowestoft having the wind in their favour. Rory McAuley's wayward headed clearance went out for a corner and Nathan Elder rose highest to meet Wheeler's centre, only to head over the bar when he should have done better.
Michael Spillane went off injured in the 65th minute, with Connor Deeks replacing him and going into central midfield, as Rossi Jarvis moved into defence.
Blake-Tracy found the side-netting with a deflected shot soon after the change but it was Jessup to the rescue in the 70th minute, reacting quickly to keep out a close-range header from Miles after a deep free-kick from Wheeler.
The Blues then had their first clear-cut chance of the game in the 78th minute, when Chris Henderson's cross from the left evaded the visiting defence and found Reed in the box, only for the striker to snatch at his chance and fire well over the bar.
Tonbridge took the lead they just about deserved in the 81st minute though, Elder meeting a cross from the right from Fortnam-Tomlinson with a powerful header into the top-right corner for 1-0.
Chris Henderson fluffed a chance from a Jarvis cross soon after but made good contact with a shot from 25 yards after a nice drop of the shoulder in midfield in the 86th minute, only to see Anthony Di-Bernardo get down comfortably to save.
Jessup went forward in the closing stages but couldn't get his head to a corner from substitute Adam Smith, who also curled a free-kick straight at Di-Bernardo during injury-time.
There was one final good chance for the Trawlerboys though, with Ryan Jarvis controlling a long ball on his chest well, only for Fisk to fire just wide under pressure.
The Angels sat deep to hold on to the three points and Lowestoft will now look to bounce back at Billericay on Tuesday night.
Lowestoft: Jessup; Barker, McAuley, Spillane (Deeks 65), Blake-Tracy; Henderson, Rossi Jarvis, Fisk, Ryan Jarvis; Reed, Forshaw (Smith 75). Unused subs: Josh Glover (GK), Marsden, Joel Glover.
Tonbridge: Di Bernardo; Folkes, Miles, Beaven, Parter; Fortnam-Tomlinson, Parkinson (C), Allen, Wheeler; Elder, Blewden (Whitnell 63). Unused subs: Sobers, Scannell, Kwayie.
Referee: Mr Ollie Morris-Sanders