Ryman Premier Division: Lowestoft Town 1 Burgess Hill Town 0

Rory McAuley's first-half header proved to be decisive as Lowestoft Town continued their pursuit of a place in the Ryman Premier Division play-off positions with a narrow 1-0 victory at Crown Meadow.


Burgess Hill arrived in Suffolk down in 17th place but only six points worse off than eight-placed Lowestoft and having played five games fewer due to their continued involvement in the FA Trophy.

The Blues made just one change from the side which beat Grays 2-1 at Crown Meadow last weekend, with commanding centre-back Rory McAuley returning from illness and Harvey Hodd dropping to the bench.

McAuley was clearly relishing his return, with the ball attracted to him like a magnet throughout the first half, at both ends of the pitch.

The match got off to a stuttering start however, after linesman Ken Reeves realised he had a problem with his flag, only to take a couple of minutes to find a replacement.

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Adam Smith's corner from the right was headed clear in the eighth minute but the full-back crossed back into the danger area and the ball fell to McAuley, only for the tall defender to thump a low shot into the arms of already grounded Burgess goalkeeper Josh James.

Blues keeper Jamie Waite did well to palm away an in-swinging corner from visiting skipper Dan Pearse soon after but the Trawlerboys quickly got back on the front foot.

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Three corners in quick succession resulted in Rossi Jarvis thumping a shot just wide of the left-hand post in the 13th minute but a sixth Lowestoft corner saw the deadlock broken.

Ryan Jarvis' set-piece was headed down by McAuley from around 10 yards and the despairing Hillians defenders could only watch on as the ball bounced up into the net.

Clumsy defending from Travis Cole allowed the lively Tyrell Richardson-Brown to burst through two minutes after the goal but Smith was alert to make a strong challenge and eliminate the danger.

From there the match became something of a scrap, as both teams struggled to find a decisive final touch.

Leon Redwood was teed up to shoot from 20 yards in the 42nd minute for Burgess but the left-back pulled his low shot a yard wide of the far post to see Lowestoft going into the break with a narrow lead.

Rossi Jarvis flashed a low shot across goal four minutes into the second half and soon after Smith had to be alert at the other end to head away a dangerous cross from the left from Richardson-Brown.

Smith then went close himself in the 58th minute when his corner from the left almost went straight into the net, only for James to react just in time and tip the ball over his crossbar.

Ten minutes later and the Hillians' keeper had to make a similar save, when Frazer Blake-Tracy's made a mess of a cross from the left, only for the ball to keep dipping and almost drop under the bar, forcing James to again tip over.

The Blues began to allow some sloppy mistakes to creep in with the scoreline still delicately balanced and desperation started to show for Burgess, seeing two players booked, substitute Dan Thompson for a petulant reaction to a Fisk challenge and Inzuchukwu Okwute for bringing down Blake-Tracy as he pushed forward.

The latter challenge allowed Smith to swing a 25-yard free-kick in from the left, which pin-balled around the Burgess penalty area before Rossi Jarvis fired a low shot, that James got down to smartly.

The Trawlerboys failed to clear their lines in the 81st minute and were relieved to see Pearse's long-range effort fly past the left-hand upright.

That prompted Ady Gallagher to put on big striker Shaun Bammant, on his way back from an Achilles problem, for Ryan Jarvis in an effort to get the hosts back on the front foot.

An intelligent through-ball from Guy Bolton teed up fellow substitute Dan Thompson to shoot on his left foot in the 89th minute but it was that man McAuley in the right place at the right time again to block the shot.

Bammant then had the chance to seal the success in the second of three added minutes, after hard work from Reed allowed Smith to tee up the striker, only to swing and miss and see the ball bounce away off his standing foot.

It didn't matter though, with the referee soon blowing for full-time, as Lowestoft hung on for their second successive Ryman Premier triumph.

The three point moved the Trawlerboys up a place to seventh after Billericay were held to a 1-1 home draw, leaving Gallagher's side a point off the top five, after big wins form both Staines and Billericay.

Lowestoft: Waite: Barker, Cole, McAuley, Smith; Rossi Jarvis (C), Fisk; Henderson (Hodd 65), Ryan Jarvis (Bammant 82), Blake-Tracy; Reed. Unused subs: Glover (GK), Marsden, Forshaw

Burgess Hill: James; Aziaya, Toure, Miles, Redwood; Pearse (C), Okwute (Bolton 82); P Harding (Thompson 72), Brivio (Ayunga 62), L Harding; Richardson-Brown. Unused subs: Tuck, Bromage

Referee: Mr Paul Quick

Attendance: 404

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