Trophy trauma for Lowestoft Town as they blow their big chance
- Credit: James Bass
There's no shame in being beaten by opponents from the league above you.
Especially, opponents who have fought their way to the third round of the FA Cup to book a money-spinning tie against Crystal Palace in the new year.
But Lowestoft will never have a better chance of progressing through to the last 32 of the FA Trophy.
When Andrew Rafferty was shown a red card on the stroke of half-time, Lowestoft couldn't have wished for a better foundation to secure their place in today's second round draw.
Dover's decision not to include a substitute goalkeeper on the bench had been exposed as defender Tom Wynter took the keeper's gloves.
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His first task was to prevent Jack Ainsley levelling the scores from the penalty spot after Tyrone Sterling had deservedly put the Whites in front in the 26th minute.
It was a task he couldn't complete and Lowestoft had the second half to break down a 10-man team with a stand-in goalkeeper as their last line of defence.
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Opportunity knocked for the Trawlerboys. Item number one in the half-time team talk would have been to test out Wynter as much as possible in the second half. However, the 24-year-old barely had a save to make.
As the Blues toiled, their lack of quality going forward was laid bare for all to see. Just as they did last season in their promotion campaign, Lowestoft have established a worrying reliance on Jake Reed to get their goals.
A groin injury prevented him from taking to the field on Saturday and whilst Shaun Bammant offers endeavour, he lacks the predatory skills of the former Dagenham & Redbridge man. Bradley Woods-Garness, who came on as a second striker after half-time, is still feeling his way back from a long-term knee injury and still looks some way short of match fitness.
At a push Reed probably could have played but the Blues cannot afford to risk him at a time when they are fighting it out at the wrong end of the table in the Conference North.
When you consider Lee Smith (back) and Chris Henderson (groin) also remain sidelined it is perhaps no surprise Lowestoft are struggling offensively.
It is imperative the Trawlerboys get some of these players back soon or the management will be forced to go into the transfer market for reinforcements. Jefferson Louis' move to Wealdstone, which was confirmed on Sunday, should at least free up some funds to that end.
How Lowestoft must wish they possess a player of Tom Murphy's talent as the Dover forward ran amok all afternoon.
As Lowestoft poured forward in vain, Dover always had a threat in Murphy on the break. However, it was from a corner that the visitors got their noses back in front when Ashlee Jones flapped at Barry Cogan's delivery and Murphy drilled the ball home. It was ruthless finishing at its best and a level above anything Lowestoft could offer on the day.
The Lowestoft onslaught never really materialised. Despite throwing more and more men forward the Blues didn't look any more threatening and were more susceptible to the counter attack.
Substitute James Poole took full advantage in injury time when he calmly slotted the ball home after being played in by Murphy.
Lowestoft's interest in national cup competitions is over for another year and they must now focus on consolidating their place in the Conference set-up.
That was always their main aim this season but whatever happens in the campaign's remainder, there will always be the sense they missed their big chance in the FA Trophy.