Lowestoft Town 2 Wingate & Finchley 1: Chris Henderson nets winner for Blues
- Credit: James Bass
A brilliant second-half strike from Chris Henderson turned out to be the winning goal for Lowestoft as they claimed their third home league win on the bounce.
Ryan Jarvis had put the Trawlerboys in front from the penalty spot on 38 minutes, before Henderson doubled the lead after the break.
The Blues were made to sweat in the final 10 minutes as substitute Max Kyte reduced the deficit for Wingate & Finchley.
Just a point and two places separated the teams at start of play.
Manager Ady Gallagher was forced into changes as the suspended Rory McAuley and versatile player Adam Smith were replaced by Harvey Hodd and Shaun Bammant.
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Ollie Tarft and Callum Bishop, recent additions from the Norwich City Shadow Squad Scholarship programme, were named on the bench.
Both teams observed a minute's silence before the match in memory of the Chapecoense players and staff.
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With Ady Gallagher calling for a response from his players before the game, it was his team that edged the opening ten minutes - although neither goalkeeper was really tested.
Travis Cole headed wide on 11 minutes, before he was called into action at the other end to deny the pacy Beckles-Richards - with a well-timed tackle.
In truth, the game struggled to gain any sort of momentum for the first 30 minutes, with a number of long balls comfortably cleared by both defences.
On 32 minutes, Lowestoft thought they had broken the deadlock as Jake Reed tapped home Chris Henderson's cross.
However, the celebrations were short-lived as the linesman was quick to raise his flag and rule out the goal for offside.
Yet the Trawlerboys were not to be denied for long and showed their character by taking the lead on 38 minutes - from the penalty spot.
Sean Cronin fouled Harvey Hodd inside the box, allowing Ryan Jarvis to step up - and send the goalkeeper the wrong way for 1-0.
The visitors, in their distinctive maroon shirts, were looking to release dangerman Beckles-Richards - who managed to score eight goals in November - at every opportunity.
But the striker found his chances limited, with the Lowestoft defence coping well against the Antiguan international.
As the game neared the interval, Rifat and Henderson both picked up bookings – the latter for a late tackle on Beckles-Richards.
There was still time for Ben Pattie to waste a golden opportunity, as he shot inches wide from a dangerous in-swinging free-kick.
After the break both sides knew the importance of scoring the second goal.
Henderson saw his shot fly over the bar before his final ball was inches away from reaching Hodd on 55 minutes - with keeper Gore saving well.
But once again, the game continued in the same pattern as the first 45 minutes, with a number of long balls and a lack of passing quality from both teams.
It really needed something special to light up the afternoon and inject some festive cheer into the crowd.
And it came from winger Chris Henderson on 64 minutes.
After a blistering run which saw him beat defender Abrahams, his neat give-and-go with Shaun Bammant allowed him to precisely slot the ball past Gore for 2-0.
Visiting manager Keith Rowland responded by making a change - Rob Laney replaced Joe Sharpe.
The second goal seemed to spark the game into life as Claudiu Vilcu forced keeper Jamie Waite into a smart stop.
Max Kyte entered the fray for Wingate on 75 minutes - in place of Ben Pattie - as the visitors looked for a way back into the contest.
And it turned out to be an inspired change for Wingate.
On 82 minutes, Tanasheh Abrahams reached the byline and crossed for Kyte to tap home from close range to make the score 2-1 and set up a nervy finish for the hosts.
Moments later, Jamie Waite had to make an instinctive stop to deny Rob Laney from scoring.
With the game stretched, Jake Reed broke through but was denied by a last gasp clearance.
And with just seconds to go, Joel Glover came on for Bammant and instantly had a chance to put the game to bed.
But after his shot was expertly saved by Gore, the ball eventually fell to Harvey Hodd.
His effort was somehow cleared off the line by Cronin - a truly miraculous block.
After a flurry of chances late in the game, Lowestoft held strong to secure another important three points.
Lowestoft Town FC Team: Waite, Barker, Blake-Tracy, Fisk, Cole, Rossi Jarvis (capt), Henderson, Ryan Jarvis, Reed, Bammant, Hodd. Subs: Forshaw, Joel Glover (for Bammant 87), Tarft, Bishop, Jessup.
Wingate & Finchley Team: Gore, Young, Abrahams, Vilcu, Cronin, Rifat (capt), Wales, Ifil, Pattie, Beckles-Richards, Sharpe.
Subs: Laney (for Sharpe 65), Flavia-Cornea, Kyte (for Pattie 75)
Yellow Cards: Lowestoft Town (Henderson 45) Wingate & Finchley (Rifat 43, Abrahams 90)
Referee: Dean Appleby