Lowestoft Town 6, Needham Market 2
Lowestoft Town confirmed their passage into the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy last night – but were made to work for it by a spirited Needham Market side.
Needham, currently flying high in Ryman League North, gave the Blues a scare during a pulsating first period – but Lowestoft's quality shone through in the second half.
Matt Nolan, handed only his second start since returning from an elbow injury, opened the scoring after 12 minutes but Needham hit back with two goals in three minutes by Sam Newson and Nathan Stone. Nolan then pulled the Blues level before a beautiful Joe Francis free-kick gave the home side the lead at the break.
Lowestoft pulled away in the second period and further goals from Curtis Haynes-Brown, Andrew Fisk and Lee McGlone booked the Trawlerboys a trip to Chippenham, who beat Slough 4-1 last night.
It was perhaps a sign of things to come when Francis almost opened the scoring in the first minute with a powerful drive from 20 yards after a fine run.
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Lowestoft once again were the quicker to settle, just as they were on Saturday, and it came as little surprise when they hit the front in the 12th minute. Stone inexplicably handled in his own area in trying to clear his lines from a corner and Nolan stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Nolan should have doubled the Blues' money midway through the half when Francis sent him clear but Gay won the battle of wits and saved well with his legs. It was a miss that would come back to haunt Lowestoft as Needham levelled in the 23rd minute. Bradley Barber's set piece found Stone at the back post and the forward headed back across goal for strike partner Newson to head home from close range. Two minutes later Needham were in front when Stone bundled the ball home from close range.
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Lowestoft didn't panic, however, and they pulled level soon afterwards thanks to Cave Brown's good run down the right flank as the former Norwich man pulled the ball back for Nolan to sweep home from 10 yards via the post. Some order returned to proceedings following three goals in four minutes, although Lowestoft got their noses back in front just before the break thanks to a wonderful, curling free kick from Francis.
Lowestoft streaked away in the second period with a display of ruthless finishing. Adam Smith's in-swinging free-kick in the 69th minute was met by Haynes-Brown who had made a marauding run to the back post to notch his first goal for the Blues.
Fisk's tidy finish made it 5-2 before McGlone rubbed further salt in Needham's wounds in the 88th minute with a fine curler after good work by Jamie Forshaw.
• Lowestoft (4-4-2): Reynolds, Cave-Brown, Crane, Haynes-Brown, A Smith, Forbes (Forshaw 81), Fisk, Mitchell, Francis (Godbold 81), McGlone, Nolan (Ainsley 72) . Subs not used: Gaughran, Halliday.
• Needham Market (4-4-2): Gay, Pemberton, Boyland, R Barber, Horlock (Wake 80), Evans, B Barber (Bethell 72), Parker, Thrower, Newson, Stone. Subs not used: McCloskey, Denniss, Croll.
• Attendance: 546.