Lowestoft Town 4, Croydon Athletic 0
A clinical second half performance saw Lowestoft Town hammer Croydon Athletic at Crown Meadow.
The Trawlerboys kept up with the Ryman League Premier Division's leading pack – and still with a healthy number of games in hand on their rivals – as goals from Matt Nolan, Russell Stock and Adam Smith's brace after the interval put the cap on an excellent display.
Despite struggling at the wrong end of the table, the resurgent visitors had won their last three league games, but only showed limited attacking desire on Saturday – something that had the home crowd a little restless after a goalless first half, given Lowestoft's 0-0 goalless draw against a similarly resolute Carshalton seven days earlier.
But the Trawlerboys put those fears to bed after the break, making it 10 points from a possible 12 in an unbeaten start to 2011.
'We said to the boys after last week you are going to get games where it won't go in for you, but you keep doing the right things keep getting balls into the box and keep getting on the end of them, and eventually they will start going in,' said joint Blues boss Micky Chapman.
'It was there for everyone to see in the second half. We just kept pushing and pushing. I thought we played really well in the first half as well –maybe the final ball let us down a little bit at times. But we stuck to it and we were top drawer, absolutely fantastic, some cracking goals and another clean sheet.'
Town should really have been ahead before the break but could not make the most of their superiority or chances, with Nolan spurning the best of them as his tangled lunge failed to connect properly with a Joe Francis cross.
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Andrew Cave-Brown produced a brilliant block, virtually on the goal-line, to deny Rams striker Shabazz Baidoo and ensure there was no first half sucker punch.
Then, six minutes after the restart, Nolan deservedly put the hosts ahead with a peach of an effort. Good work from Stock – making his first start since returning to Crown Meadow this month – teed up Nolan, who curled a sweet right-footer from 20 yards inside the far post and beyond Rams goalkeeper Charlie Mitten.
The Croydon stopper pulled off a world class reaction save as Andrew Fisk completed a flowing move on the hour – but minutes later Smith produced a stunning effort of his own from at least 25 yards, which flicked in off the far post.
Stock blazed over from close range before he was able to celebrate his first goal since rejoining, heading home an excellent Cave-Brown cross with 13 minutes remaining after a neat build up. And four minutes later, a challenge on substitute Lee McGlone gave Smith his second, sending Mitten the wrong way from the spot.
Town goalkeeper Andy Reynolds' tidy stop from Baidoo's with five minutes' left put added the icing to Lowestoft's cake.
But the next seven days promise to be tough, with trips to Cray Wanderers (tomorrow), Tonbridge Angels (Saturday) and, in the Championship Manager Cup, Cheshunt (Thursday).
• Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Reynolds 6; Cave-Brown 8, Crane 6, Gaughran 7, A Smith 8; Forshaw 6 (Godbold 72, 7), Fisk 8, Cockrill 7, Francis 6 (Haynes-Brown 79, 6); Nolan 7 (McGlone 63, 7), Stock 7. Subs not used: Ainsley, Halliday. Goals: Nolan 51, A Smith 62 81pen, Stock 77.
• Croydon Athletic (4-5-1): Mitten 8; Hartburn 6, Hughes 7, Williams 7, Coleman 6 (Orome 71, 6); Rasmussen 7, McCann 6, D Smith 7, Elgar 6, Sawyer 6 (Bolarinwa 66); Baidoo 7. Subs not used: Weber, Landias, Peck. Booking: Coleman.
• Referee: James Turner; Attendance: 657