Lowestoft Town 3 AFC Telford United 0
- Credit: Steve Gardiner Photography (sg-photography.format.com)
Three goals in eight frenetic minutes snatched an excellent opening-day victory for Lowestoft Town on their return to National League North action.
Home keeper Jake Jessup deserved a large slice of the credit though, making five vital stops to allow his attacking team-mates to do the damage in the second half.
Two goals from striker Jake Reed, the first in the 70th minute and the second in the 78th, sandwiched a lovely strike from Danny Crow to secure victory against a team who were playing in the league above last season.
The first half had started at a leisurely pace in roasting heat, with the first real action coming in the fifth minute when Chris Henderson's low shot from the edge of the box rolled just wide of the left upright.
Jessup was the main man for the hosts in the first half though as he set about proving he is capable of replacing former number one Ashlee Jones.
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First he denied Telford centre-forward David Hibbert, formerly of Preston and Shrewsbury, with his feet in the ninth minute but he would be called on again throughout the match.
Norwich referee Lee Betts – a Premier League assistant and deputy headmaster at Hunstanton's Smithdon High School – made a poor decision in the 13th minute when he booked visiting midfielder Jack Rea for a high boot on Andrew Fisk, when the Blues battler had clearly dipped his head in bravely to try to win the ball.
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It was a decision which hinted at some early-season rust and that extended to both sets of players in the searing heat as well.
Danny Glover should have put the Shropshire side ahead in the 23rd minute after a lovely looping cross from Greg Wilkinson found him in the penalty area, but he headed over the bar.
Summer signing Ryan Jarvis perhaps should have put Lowestoft ahead three minutes later after good work up front from Reed allowed Henderson to spread a lovely low pass to the right, James Montgomery rushed out to deny the former Norwich City striker though.
Glover forced another good save from Jessup in the 31st minute but it came after Lowestoft player-coach Dan Gleeson – in charge with manager Ady Gallagher on his honeymoon – failed to head away a long kick from the visiting keeper, and went down after his long-term back problem flared up again.
Jessup dived to his left to deny Glover and Gleeson limped off to be replaced by another former Canaries youngster, Harry Barker, who has joined on loan from Dereham Town with a view to a permanent move.
Fisk marked his 250th appearance for the Trawlerboys by getting booked in the 36th minute after a late tackle on Wilkinson.
Erkan Okay fired a shot straight at Montgomery in the 44th minute and Jessup made another brilliant save from Glover, tipping his shot from the right of the box over the crossbar, to send the teams into the half-time break with the score still at 0-0.
The second half was to be far more eventful though, after a quiet opening 15 minutes.
A hectic goalmouth scramble in the Lowestoft box sparked the half into life in the 65th minute, Jessup again making a very good save and Barker clearing a shot off the line as the hosts somehow kept the score level.
That then proved decisive, as the Trawlerboys roared forward and scored three goals in just eight minutes to electrify the home support.
The first came in the 70th minute when Fisk intercepted the ball in his own half and released Jarvis, who sprayed a raking ball forward to Reed, who eventually got the ball out of his feet and fired into the bottom-left corner for 1-0.
The second followed just two minutes later, but only after Jessup had made his fifth excellent save of the afternoon, denying a swerving shot from the left from Jack Roberts.
The subsequent corner was cleared and Reed burst down the left, cutting inside and teeing up Crow, who thumped the ball into the top-right corner with panache.
The Bucks then made a double substitution to try and turn the tide – but it was too late.
The momentum was with the hosts and Reed picked out Crow on the edge of the box, who returned the ball to Reed and the striker fired into the bottom-left corner on the turn to spark wild celebrations and complete a remarkable spell of football.
The hosts then coasted to victory in the closing stages, making a great start to life without long-serving former joint manager Micky Chapman, with influential players still to come back into the fold.
Lowestoft Town: Jake Jessup; Jack Ainsley, Dan Gleeson (Harry Barker 31), Scott Mitchell, Adam Smith; Andrew Fisk, Erkan Okay; Ryan Jarvis, Danny Crow (Bradley Woods-Garness 87), Chris Henderson; Jake Reed (Robert Eagle 85)
Unused subs: Marcus Garnham (GK), Ben Fowkes
Goals: Jake Reed (70, 78), Danny Crow (72)
AFC Telford United: James Montgomery; Izak Reid,Jack Deaman, Mark Lees, Sean Clancy; Greg Wilkinson, Jack Rea; Johnny Gorman (Kyle Brownhill 77), Danny Glover (Kaiman Anderson 77), Jack Roberts; David Hibbert (C)
Unused subs: Mason Springthorpe (GK), Alex Fletcher, Ben Harrison
Referee: Lee Betts (Norwich)