Lowestoft Town 2, Chelmsford City 5
Lowestoft Town were put to the sword by clinical Conference South opposition at Crown Meadow as their FA Cup hopes ended at the third qualifying round.
Despite going behind to Joe Francis' sublime strike, Chelmsford City grew in confidence and stature as Joe Benjamin inspired a side that have been away day specialists this season.
'We started well and scored a very good goal, and then just capitulated from there,' said Town director of football Craig Fleming. 'They got ahead and there are no excuses for after that, we were just second best.
'Pre-season we did well against them and the first 40 minutes when we were doing what we do, we were a match for them. There's no question about that.
'It's just that football is a game of momentum and we had it to start with, didn't get that second goal and then we just got hit by a couple of sucker punches and to be fair to them, they punished us from there.'
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It was Town who drew first blood and deservedly so. Adam Smith's diagonal was chested down by Francis in full flight before the winger volleyed an unstoppable left-foot effort into the top corner for a classy opener on 17 minutes.
From then on the hosts seemed to have the measure of a bright City side – despite still being without a handful of first-team regulars – until a two-minutes spell approaching half-time turned the game on its head.
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Seven minutes before the break Town centre-back Sam Gaughran did well to snuff out the danger from a lively Ricky Modeste, but Aiden Palmer's resulting corner saw Cliff Akurang rise highest to power his header into the near corner.
It went from bad to worse seconds later as Adam Smith gave away a free-kick on the edge of the Trawlerboys box – for which the left-back, already booked, earned a long talk from referee Wayne Porter.
Town again failed to deal with Palmer's delivery and as goalkeeper Andy Reynolds failed to claim the cross Max Cornhill was on hand to prod City ahead.
Then seven minutes the other side of the interval City put the result beyond doubt. Benjamin made the most of Andrew Cave-Brown's slip and although his forceful run only brought a save from Reynolds, Kezie Ibe kept his composure to roll the ball into the empty net.
The score was handed a flattering look on the hour as Benjamin did the damage again, weaving his way along the by-line before seeing his cut-back knocked into his own net by Andrew Fisk.
The Ryman Premier hosts huffed and puffed after that, and were given the chance of a late consolation when substitute Adrian Forbes took a tumble in the box under pressure from Cornhill – Dale Cockrill drilling home from 12 yards with three minutes remaining.
But within seconds Cornhill made amends with a lovely finish to restore City's three-goal lead and ease City through to the final FA Cup qualifying round at Lowestoft's expense.
• Lowestoft: (4-4-2) Reynolds; Cave-Brown, Halliday, Gaughran, Smith; Henderson (Forbes 67), Fisk, Ainsley (Cockrill 62), Francis (Forshaw 74); Nolan, Frew. Subs (not used): Stock, Marsden, Manning, Chick. Goal: Francis 17, Cockrill 87; Bookings: Smith, Ainsley.
• Chelmsford: (4-4-2) Searle; Miller, Tann, Clark, Palmer; Modeste, Corcoran (Brown 90), Cornhill, Benjamin (Whitely 74); Ibe, Akurang. Subs (not used): Haines, Nunn, Scarlett. Goals: Akurang 38, Cornhill 40 88, Ibe 52, Fisk (og) 60; Booking: Corcoran.
• Referee: Wayne Porter
• Attendance: 1,065