Lowestoft Town 4 Cray Wanderers 1
Lowestoft Town kept their title hopes alive as they thrashed Cray Wanderers at Crown Meadow with an authoritative display.
Jack Defty grabbed his 21st goal of the season to open the scoring midway through the first half before Erkan Okay doubled their lead with a fantastic strike. Chris Henderson made it 3-0 before Curtley Williams wrapped up the points before half-time with a fine back post header.
Michael Power got a consolation for Cray from the penalty spot in the second half after being fouled by Greg Crane but it proved nothing more than a consolation as Lowestoft moved to within 12 points of leaders Whitehawk, who have played four games more.
Lowestoft showed none of the tiredness in the first half that undermined their last display at Crown Meadow when they were downed by lowly Thurrock.
Josh Dawkin should have put the Blues ahead in only the second minute when played in by Defty but the former Norwich City man's effort was straight at Cray 'keeper Andy Walker.
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Shortly after Crane hit the bar from Robert Eagle's corner and it looked a matter of time before Lowestoft broke the deadlock.
However, they had a scare when James Fray jinked his way into the Blues' penalty before firing across goal but Leigh Bremner could only prod wide from close range with Andrew Plummer beaten.
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The miss would come back to haunt the visitors as midway through the half Lowestoft deservedly hit the front.
Dan Gleeson, playing in central midfield, slid a lovely ball through to Defty, who drew the 'keeper and although Walker got a hand to it, the striker found the bottom corner.
It got even better for Lowestoft in the 27th minute as Okay continued his recent goalscoring streak with a fine goal. Once again Gleeson was the architect as he found his midfield partner on the corner of the penalty area and Okay proceeded to drive a wonderful shot into the top corner giving Walker no chance.
Cray simply couldn't live with Lowestoft's pace and movement going forward and it came as no surprise when Henderson made it 3-0 when he fed off Dawkin's pass to round the keeper and calmly stroke the ball home.
It was game over just before the break as Williams, showing no ill-effects from a recent hamstring injury, rose at the back post to head home Eagle's corner.
Okay almost grabbed his second of the evening with an audacious 40-yard effort early in the second half when he spotted Walker off his line but the Cray keeper was able to back-pedal and claw the ball off the line.
Williams came close to making it 5-0 from the resulting corner, meeting Eagle's cross but his scuffed shot was cleared off the line by Mark Willy before Walker made an excellent save to deny Defty.
Defty made way for Hakeem Araba shortly after and the former Whitehawk striker came close to opening his Lowestoft account but saw a left-footed effort saved by Walker.
Cray managed to pull one back in the 70th minute when Crane made a hash of a clearance and, in trying to rectify his mistake, brought down Power, who drove home from the penalty spot.
– Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Plummer, Saker, Williams, Crane, Eagle, L Smith, Gleeson, Okay, Dawkin, Henderson (Frew 57), Defty (Araba 57). Subs not used: Benjamin, Fisk, Ainsley.
– Cray Wanderers (4-4-2): Walker, Pooley, Willy, Day, Clark, Fray, Stavinrou, Saunders, Phillips (Estrada 46), Power, Bremner (Ward 65). Subs not used: Fasunan, Sackey, Abbott.
– Referee: Thomas Ramsey
– Attendance: 462