Needham Market 2, Lowestoft Town 2
FA TROPHY FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND: Adrian Forbes gave Lowestoft Town fans a glimpse of what he can offer the Blues this season in the FA Trophy on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to stop Needham Market earning a replay.
The 31-year-old, who recently signed a two-year contract but by his own admission is some way short of match fitness, was a constant thorn in the side of the hosts as he bagged a goal in either half but the two sides will have to do it all again on Tuesday evening at Crown Meadow.
Lowestoft were in irrepressible form in the first period as they emphasised the gulf in class between themselves and the Ryman League North newcomers but all they had to show for their efforts was Forbes' 37th minute header from Scott Mitchell's cross.
The match should have been over by the break such was Lowestoft's dominance but Needham rallied in the second period and gained a foothold in the contest through Craig Parker's equaliser.
Suddenly the home side were picking holes in the Blues' defence but Lowestoft regained the lead when Forbes scored from the penalty spot after being brought down by Parker.
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Lowestoft should have gone on to kill the tie but were na�ve enough to let Needham back into the contest and they duly bundled home a late equaliser through Nathan Stone.
Lowestoft emphasised the gulf in class in the first half as they dominated possession and pinned the home side into their own half for long periods.
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Lee McGlone was giving the Needham defence a torrid time through his physical presence while Forbes buzzed around the former Leiston man with all the enthusiasm of his days as a youngster at Norwich City.
Needham were also having trouble coping with the Blues' set pieces and it was almost their undoing in the 22nd minute when they failed to clear Jamie Godbold's corner and Joe Francis hammered a shot against the upright.
It seemed it was only a matter of time before Lowestoft broke the deadlock but they were almost punished for their charitable finishing in the 34th minute when Bradley Barber spotted Kevin Horlock on the edge of the box from a corner and the former Ipswich man let fly with a stinging left-footed strike that made the crossbar shudder with stand-in 'keeper Phil Smith helpless.
But just three minutes later Lowestoft gained the lead their first half dominance deserved. Mitchell's cross from the left found Forbes unmarked in front of goal and the forward calmly headed home from six yards.
Lowestoft almost doubled their advantage at the start of the second half when a long range effort from Godbold clipped the crossbar.
However, Needham improved and they were level in the 57th minute as Parker ghosted into the penalty area unmarked to nod home B Barber's free kick.
Lowestoft thought they had got their noses back in front minutes later when McGlone's towering header found the top corner but the referee inexplicably blew up for a foul to the bemusement of the Lowestoft players.
It was turning into a real cup tie with both sides eager to find a winner and Needham substitute Sam Newson came within inches of making it 2-1 when he profited from Fisk's misplaced pass but his 20-yard effort hit the crossbar.
But Lowestoft are made of stern stuff nowadays and a move of real quality paved the way for them to get their noses back in front.
Stuart Ainsley's raking pass out to the right found Godbld in space and the skipper stood the ball up for McGlone at the back post whose clever header found Forbes.
Forbes' touch took him past Parker who could only trip the forward and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Forbes then dusted himself down before placing the ball low to the keeper's right.
It should have been game over but Lowestoft couldn't close the game out and 11 minutes from time Needham were level again.
James Evans' corner was headed back across goal by Parker and Stone somehow bundled the ball home.
Needham finished the stronger side and Evans' thunderous volley from a Horlock cross cannoned off the post and in the end Lowestoft were grateful to have another bite of the Trophy cherry on Tuesday.
• Needham Market (4-4-2): Gay, Pemberton, Boyland, R Barber, Horlock, Evans, B Barber, Parker, McCloskey (Newson 60), Bethell (Thrower 60), Stone. Subs not used: Deniss, Wake, Croll.
• Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): P Smith, Mitchell, Crane, Haynes-Brown, A Smith, Godbold, Fisk, Ainsley, Francis (Forshaw 80), Forbes, McGlone. Subs not used: Forshaw, Bloomfield, Gaughran, Halliday, Bussens.
• Referee: Gary Evetts (Hertfordshire)
• Attendance: 381