Play-off final defeat not an option for Lowestoft Town

Lowestoft Town management duo Ady Gallagher (left) and Micky Chapman have almost done it all at Crow

Lowestoft Town management duo Ady Gallagher (left) and Micky Chapman have almost done it all at Crown Meadow - but a play-off final win this afternoon would surely top the lot. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

There will be two men in the home dugout this afternoon who have lived and breathed Lowestoft Town for years, from Eastern Counties success all the way to a Wembley final.

Trawlerboys management duo of Ady Gallagher and Micky Chapman have had praise and criticism over the years, but far more joy than any football boss could expect.

Concord Rangers will arrive at Crown Meadow today for Town's third Ryman League Premier Division play-off final in three years. Their third successive shot at realising the dream of becoming a Conference football club. A level of football and status unrivalled in its history.

Sometimes the fact promotion hasn't already been achieved after going so close so often allows people to become blasé. But one thought back to Chapman, Gallagher and the road they have travelled dispels that in an instant.

Be it leading the Trawlerboys out of the Eastern Counties league for the first time. Or through a thrilling FA Vase campaign that took them all the way to Wembley – and ultimately late heartbreak that has never healed.

Or raising the bar again, winning the Ryman League's second tier at the first attempt and continuing on to knock on the door of the Conference so hard, those with the keys on the other side will soon get bored and let them in anyway.

Once again the season comes down to 90 minutes – and possibly a few more – to achieve the ultimate goal.

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'I'll be honest with you, I've been lucky enough over the last few years to be involved in some massive games for the club but without a shadow of a doubt, at home here, it is the biggest home game in the club's history,' said Gallagher.

'And we want the town to acknowledge that, get behind the team and hopefully push us over the line.

'The last two years we've had to go away in the final. This year someone's got to come to us and I know from previous experience this place could be full to capacity. I certainly hope the town gets behind us, like they used to in the FA Vase games and as they have done in the FA Cup final qualifying round in the past.

'I urge people to come and blow every ball in the net for us and try to keep everything out of the net for us just by getting vocally behind the team and giving them a lift, because the boys have worked so hard they deserve that type of following.'

A clean bill of health from Wednesday night's 1-0 semi-final win over East Thurrock United means Joe Francis could be pressing for a start, while Sam Gaughran is likely to miss out again through a hamstring knock.

But whether out or involved, everyone will be at Crown Meadow hoping this is Lowestoft's year.

'It's a massive game – I'll put it up there with the Wembley game; that's what it means to all of us – to me as an individual, to the fans, to all of us within the dressing room,' added Chapman. 'To Flem, Ady, the boys. Everybody. We want it so bad.

'The fans made a big difference in the semi. A massive 1,200 people there, a big crowd – but that will double on Monday without a shadow of a doubt. And the more noise they make the better.'


Lowestoft Town v Concord Rangers

Crown Meadow (3pm)

Extra-time and penalties if needed; winner earns a place in second tier of the 2013-14 Blue Square Conference.

Admisssion: £10 adults, £8 conc, £2 for Under-16.

The ground's turnstiles and bar will be open from 12.30pm.

Fans are advised to arrive as early as possible as a crowd of more than 2,000 is expected.

• Town (from): Reynolds, Plummer, Crane, A Smith, Williams, Gleeson, Okay, Benjamin, Fisk, Mitchell, L Smith, Francis, Eagle, Araba, Frew, Henderson.