Lowestoft Town 2, Leatherhead 2
Lowestoft Town were left to rue dropping another two points in the Ryman League Premier title race despite a Chris Henderson double at Crown Meadow this afternoon.
The former Bury striker put the Blues in front in the 35th minute after a lacklustre first half but Leatherhead scored two goals in two minutes early in the second period through a Greg Andrews penalty and a calm finish from Harry Ottaway.
Lowestoft rallied in the closing stages and an excellent finish from Henderson made it 2-2 to set up a grandstand finale.
Matt Nolan and Lubo Guentchev had chances to find a winner but Leatherhead saw out the onslaught, much to the frustration of the Blues.
Lowestoft signalled their intentions early on with Dean Sinclair having a long range effort go just after the bar after 26 seconds.
However, Lowestoft struggled to find any rhythm going forward in the first period while Leatherhead looked lively as Ottaway was a constant thorn in the side of the Blues back four.
However, it was strike partner Tommy Hutchings, who should have put the visitors ahead when Greg Crane’s misjudged header landed at his feet. With just Reynolds to beat there was an audible sigh of relief when Hutchings’ attempted lob went just wide.
This let-off appeared to jolt Lowestoft into action and Robert Eagle and Sinclair gradually got a grip of the midfield.
In the 35th minute Lowestoft got the breakthrough and unsurprisingly it came through Henderson. The management team’s decision to move him from left wing to up front has paid dividends in recent weeks and he showed his predatory instinct to break the deadlock.
Erkan Okay’s teasing cross wasn’t dealt with by Jerry Nnamani and, when the ball dropped in the six-yard area, Henderson was the first to react to stab the ball home.
Lowestoft should have doubled their lead at the start of the second half when Matt Nolan beat goalkeeper Ramos in the air to meet a long Crane pass but his headed effort rolled just wide.
It was a miss that would come back to haunt Lowestoft as Leatherhead struck twice in two minutes to silence Crown Meadow.
Ottaway was clipped inside the penalty area by Smith and Andrews stepped up to send Reynolds the wrong way. It got worse less than 60 seconds later when a long punt forward by Andrews sent Ottaway clear and the striker coolly finished to give Leatherhead the lead.
Leatherhead should have wrapped the game up in the 73rd minute when nice interplay between Ottaway and Hutchings sent the latter clear. However, in trying to play the ball back to Ottaway, Hutchings overhit the pass and the chance was gone.
Lubo Guentchev was introduced from the bench as Lowestoft desperately searched for an equaliser and the Bulgarian almost made it 2-2 but his shot was brilliantly blocked on the line by Dan Dean.
However, in the 82nd minute Lowestoft were back on level terms and it was well worth waiting for. Nolan’s crossfield pass picked out Henderson on the left and the former Bury man’s first touch took him past Jamie Coyle before lifting his finish into the roof of the net.
Nolan had a great chance to win it for the Blues late on but his header from inside the six-yard area went just over after a fine cross from Guentchev, who also forced a fine reaction save in injury time out of Ramos with a 20-yard effort.
• Lowestoft Town (4-4-2): Reynolds, Okay (Guentchev, 58), Crane, Gaughran, Smith, Mitchell, Sinclair, Eagle, Francis (Forshaw, 70), Henderson, Nolan (Stone, 90). Subs not used: Frew, Forbes.
• Leatherhead (4-4-2): Ramos, Coyle, Dean, Nnamani, Gross, Thompson (Francis, 68), Simmonds, Holness, Andrews (Manners, 72), Ottaway, Hutchings (Richmond 90). Subs not used: Terry, Brady.
• Referee: Dean Appleby
• Attendance: 619