Lowestoft Town 2 Stockport County 2
- Credit: Archant
Penalty king Jack Ainsley salvaged a dramatic draw for Lowestoft Town against Stockport County this afternoon – to take his personal goal tally to 13 for the season, despite playing at right-back.
Ainsley had fired the Blues into a 1-0 lead in the first half at Crown Meadow but a controversial penalty allowed Scott Spencer to equalise for County in the 66th minute.
Spencer then scored a brilliant curling effort in the 89th minute to score what looked to be the winner – but Ainsley was to have the final say.
Another penalty was given after a bundle in the Stockport box in the third minute of injury-time, and Ainsley made no mistake to salvage a valuable Conference North point.
The Blues made one change from the previous weekend's 2-1 win at North Ferriby, with Dean Mason replacing the injured Rob Eagle on the wing.
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Eagle had played in Wednesday night's Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final victory against Leiston – in which Bradley Woods-Garness scored the only goal – but wasn't fit to start again.
Woods-Garness, called up for World Cup qualifying action with Caribbean nation Montserrat alongside Mason this week, had to settle for a place on the bench as Jake Reed continued to spearhead the Trawlerboys' attack.
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Giant centre-back Omar Sowunmi, on loan from Ipswich Town, nearly put the Blues ahead in the ninth minute. The 6ft 7in defender's header from an Adam Smith corner on the right was clawed around the post by Hatters keeper Danny Hurst.
Sowunmi had to be alert at the other end six minutes later, tackling back well as Spencer broke through on the counter.
Lowestoft did not have to wait long to take the lead though – thanks to a moment of defensive madness from County centre-back Steve O'Halloran.
Rossi Jarvis played a nice through-ball towards Reed and O'Halloran barged the striker to the floor to give away the penalty and pick up a yellow card.
Ainsley gratefully accepted the invitation and thumped the penalty into the bottom-right corner of the net, scoring his 10th spot-kick of the season.
Sowunmi headed wide again at the back post in the 26th minute and the visitors had their first decent chance six minutes later, striker Danny Glover heading a cross from the left from Matthew Todd over the crossbar.
The Trawlerboys came very close to doubling their lead before the break when a Jarvis header from an Adam Smith free-kick from the right was tipped over the bar by Hurst, to keep the score at 1-0 at the break.
The visitors came out with much better intent in the second half and Spencer fired a long-range effort almost immediately, which home goalkeeper Ashlee Jones dealt with at the second attempt.
Adam Smith nearly scored direct from a corner but Hurst managed to tip the ball over his crossbar in the 62nd minute – before the game was turned on its head three minutes later.
A curling low shot from Charlie Russell was about to be hooked clear by Andrew Fisk but Spencer stooped to try and head the ball and took a boot to the face, to earn a soft penalty. Spencer made no mistake from 12 yards, firing into the bottom-right corner for 1-1.
Lowestoft tried to apply the pressure and find a winner but it was the visitors who looked to have snatched the points, with Spencer the main man again.
The striker curled a shot from 20 yards out into the top-right corner of the net, off the underside of the bar, to send Stockport into a 2-1 lead in the 89th minute.
The match wasn't over though, as Reed was bundled over in the box in the 93rd minute to earn another penalty.
Glover was booked for trying to delay Ainsley taking the penalty but the full-back was not put off and he again thumped the ball into the bottom-right corner, coolly scoring his 11th penalty of the campaign and salvaging a point in dramatic fashion.
The Hatters took exception to the Blues' celebrations and a scrap broke out among both sets of players, to result in Reed being booked and Glover being shown his second yellow in the dying moments of the match.
It was a dramatic finale to a scrappy match, extending Lowestoft's unbeaten home league run to seven matches.
Lowestoft: Jones; Ainsley, Gaughran (C), Sowunmi, Adam Smith (Bammant 90); Lee Smith, Okay (Woods-Garness 73), Fisk, Jarvis, Mason (Henderson 60); Reed. Subs: Jessup (GK), Radomski.
Stockport: Hurst; Benjamin, Lees (C), Hancock (Ryan 53), O'Halloran, Todd; Moses, Russell, Wilkinson; Glover, Spencer (Lofthouse 90+2). Subs: Ormson (GK), Sharp, Noblett.
Referee: Chris Pollard