Lowestoft Town 1 Boston United 1
- Credit: James Bass
Penalty king Jack Ainsley rescued a point for Lowestoft Town in a dramatic second half against Boston United at Crown Meadow this afternoon.
The Trawlerboys were unchanged from their 2-0 home win against Gainsborough four days ago, with skipper Dan Gleeson not fit to return in defence due to his regular back and hamstring problem.
The hosts were on the hunt for revenge after losing 5-3 at Boston on Boxing Day, but it was the Pilgrims who started the match in better style.
The visitors could even have taken the lead inside the opening minute, when winger Kane Felix got on the end of a cross from left winger Nicky Walker and beat Adam Smith to the loose ball, only to fire a powerful shot at Blues keeper Ashlee Jones.
Long throws from Boston centre-back Zac Mills were causing Lowestoft problems but the visitors' deserved goal came in the 20th minute after Mills decided to throw short instead.
Striker Dayle Southwell took the ball on his chest and passed to Felix on the edge of the box, whose ball across the edge of the area eventually came to Walker, a recent signing from Rotherham United, whose shot was then deflected into the Lowestoft net.
It was no more than the Pilgrims deserved but the visitors were unable to extend their lead before the break, with the Trawlerboys starting to get some decent passing going despite an awful pitch and strong wind against them.
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Jake Reed got his head to a Robert Eagle corner in the 34th minute but could only divert the ball wide of the left-hand post.
Lowestoft were then handed an injury blow when centre-back Curtis Haynes-Brown limped off with an injury, to be replaced by Erkan Okay, with Rossi Jarvis dropping back into defence.
Good play from Eagle played Shaun Bammant down the left wing in the 36th minute and Reed managed to get a foot to his low cross, but the ball was held easily by Boston keeper Joel Dixon, on loan from Premier League side Sunderland.
The Pilgrims held onto their lead through to the break, but the game was soon to be turned on its head.
Jones made two excellent saves early in the second half, firstly to deny goal-scorer Walker and then, secondly, a header from defender Carl Piergianni from the resulting corner.
And Lowestoft were to be grateful for their keeper's heroics, as they found an equaliser in the 61st minute.
That came shortly after a brawl involving nearly every player on the pitch, after a Boston penalty appeal had been turned away.
The officials had to make sense of what had happened in the scrap and decided to send off Boston full-back Rene Steer – for apparently kicking grounded Lowestoft player Dean Mason – and show yellow cards to Piergianni and Lowestoft's Andrew Fisk.
That was all sparked by Boston insisting a Lowestoft defender had handled the ball in his box and, ironically, Lowestoft were then immediately awarded a penalty at the other end because of hand-ball.
That came after an Okay shot was handled by Piergianni and Jack Ainsley gratefully took the penalty, his eighth successful spot-kick of the season and his 10th goal overall.
Jones was called into action again late on, as Boston rallied, but both teams eventually ran out of steam and could feel pleased with a point after a tough battle in difficult conditions.
Lowestoft: Jones; Ainsley, Gaughran (C), Haynes-Brown (Okay 35), A Smith; Mason, Fisk, Jarvis, Eagle; Bammant (Woods-Garness 83), Reed. Unused subs: Jessup (GK), Marsden, Radomski.
Boston: Dixon; Marrs, Mills, Piergianni, Steer; Felix (Marshall 62), Garner (C), McGhee (Hollingsworth 74), Walker (Simmons 74); Southwell, Jones. Unused subs: Vince (GK), Newsham.