Second-half brace seals good home win for Lowestoft Town
Lowestoft Town produced another excellent team performance to take all three points from third-placed AFC Hornchurch, thanks to two second-half goals in the space of three minutes.
A blustery wind made life difficult for both teams, but Lowestoft kept the ball on the ground with some neatly-built moves and were first to produce a threat on goal.
Lee Smith was fouled just outside the area, but Robert Eagle's direct free-kick was smothered at the foot of the post.
Hornchurch then enjoyed a spell on top, with George Purcell's cross-shot missing the far post by inches. A right wing corner fell to Leigh Bremner whose volley just cleared the bar.
Lowestoft started to get on top and a flowing move ended with Jack Ainsley setting up Smith, whose vicious drive was blocked in front of goal.
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Jake Reed used his strength and pace to get through, but shot into the side netting, and then Eagle was twice denied – firstly when his swerving and dipping drive beat Inigo Echepare all ends up but crashed against the crossbar and then when a 20-yard effort was turned round the post by the Urchins keeper.
The second half started with a great chance for Hornchurch to take the lead, but Bremner placed a free-header well wide of the target.
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That miss proved to be a costly one for the visitors as Lowestoft took the lead in the 49th minute.
There seemed little danger as Eagle picked the ball up just inside the Hornchurch half, but he was allowed a free run before firing in a low drive from 25 yards that whistled into the net.
It took just three minutes for Lowestoft to double their lead with several one-touch passes ending with Eagle setting up Adam Smith to drill home another shot from 25 yards.
With Dan Gleeson and Sam Gaughran again in dominant form Hornchurch were restricted to high crosses into the box which were comfortably dealt with by the Town defence.
The icing on the cake came with a third goal in the 74th minute. Eagle won a corner on the right and his flag kick seemed destined for the far top corner, but Echepare arched backwards to tip the ball over for another corner on the other flank.
Jack Ainsley's kick saw Gaughran rise high to power in a header at the far post.
With the game won, Lowestoft brought on Michael Frew – returning from injury – for the last few minutes and Connor Doddington for another brief taste of first team football.