East Thurrock United 0 v 1 Lowestoft Town
CURTIS Haynes-Brown struck in the 90th minute to seal Lowestoft Town’s first away win of the season at East Thurrock last night (Tuesday).
The match looked to be petering out into a draw until the defender profited from Michael Frew’s header back across goal, volleying the ball into the roof of the net.
The gap between the sides was reflected in the first half when Lowestoft dominated, albeit that it might have been a different story had not an early, well-worked corner that found Leon McKenzie at the far post had a more positive result for the home side.
As it was McKenzie was unable to get in an effective header and from then, the momentum was with the visitors. Dan Gleeson brought a near post save from Sam Mott with a header and in the ensuing scramble Rocks were grateful to see the ball prodded wide of an upright.
Soon after Curtley Williams delivered a superb ball into the path of Lee Smith, who volleyed just over, and the Lowestoft dominance continued, culminating in Michael Frew’s 23rd minute half volley across the face of goal.
Things were difficult for East Thurrock, who were struggling to gain a foothold in the match, but you couldn’t fault their effort, typified by a battling performance from David Bryant whose eagerness to get back and help ended in a booking for a foul that will bring a suspension for the feisty striker.
Rocks were creating little by way of attacking chances and their first real sniff of a goal didn’t come until overlapping fullback Tom Stephen delivered a cross that lifted over keeper Ashlee Jones, who was grateful to see it swing wide of his woodwork.
Just after the half hour the same woodwork was rattled by a stooping header from McKenzie but the effort would have been ruled out anyway for a push by the forward, who was nevertheless proving a real handful for the visitors’ defence, winning many headers, though no-one was able to capitalise on his flicks. And in defence he also proved a stalwart, particularly in the closing stages of the half when he won the ball under pressure as Lowestoft won a succession of corners.
Rocks survived those and also a hairy moment when Mott raced out of his goal to head the ball away only for it to fall to Smith, whose goal-bound return was directed near enough to the keeper for him to block with an outstretched leg. Moments later Andrew Fisk ought to have done better when he had time and space at the edge of the box but he lifted his shot well over Mott’s crossbar.
The half ended, as it had begun, with a speculative Rocks attack and a thumping drive from Ryan Sammons from all of 40 yards that rose just above the goal.
Play was more even in the second half, with Rocks getting the measure of their visitors and chances were few and far between, though in the early stages of the half Mott again left his box and was grateful that Smith couldn’t return a poor clearance with anything other than a shot that lacked venom and drifted wide of the target.
Rocks came closest to a goal when Bryant speculatively hooked a ball over Jones and Lowestoft were relieved to see it drop beyond the net, rather than in it – though unsighted home fans gave a roar in the first instance as they thought it had dipped in.
As the half wore on Lowestoft gradually increased their dominance and for much of the remainder of the match, Rocks were fighting a rearguard – though they did it well and rarely looked liked conceding.
The game looked to be drifting to a goalless conclusion but right at the death Rocks attacked and sub Nathan Koranteng was adventurous in trying to create a goalscoring opportunity when he might have been better trying to kill time – and in the end his timid delivery allowed Lowestoft to mount a final counter attack as the clock ticked into two added minutes.
It was stopped at the expense of a free-kick, which Lowestoft took quickly and when the ball was played into the box Rocks failed to win the second ball and it fell invitingly for Lowestoft defender Curtis Haynes-Brown who steered it through a melee of players into the back of the net for a winner that wasn’t entirely undeserved, but it was very, very tough for the home side to take.