Former FA Cup winner Alan Devonshire paid tribute to Lowestoft after his Braintree side were pushed all the way by the Trawlerboys in Saturday’s fourth qualifying round match.

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The Essex side looked set for a comfortable afternoon as they took a two-goal lead inside the first 25 minutes and Lowestoft had striker Jack Defty sent off.

But Lowestoft, who play two divisions below their Blue Square Bet Conference Premier hosts, showed plenty of character and ultimately it was Braintree who were left hanging on for a 3-2 victory.

Braintree boss Devonshire, who tasted glory in the competition with West Ham in 1980, said: “We worked hard to get ourselves in a good position at both 2-0 and 3-1. Lowestoft had nothing to lose, had a right go at us and were a credit to themselves.

“But we’re through and I suppose that’s all that matters.”

Lowestoft got off to the worst possible start by conceding the opening goal after just three minutes. Kenny Davis’ excellent pass released Bradley Quinton who picked out Sean Marks to volley home.

On 15 minutes, as Lowestoft struggled to get their game going, a cross from Pat O’Connor eluded the jumping Greg Crane and fell perfectly for Marks to knock home his second close range goal.

Two crucial decisions then went against Lowestoft in the space of two minutes. Firstly a lunging tackle from O’Connor on Andrew Fisk in the 21st minute was punished with just a yellow card, before a similar challenge by Defty on Ryan Peters saw the Lowestoft frontman receive a straight red.

This setback seemed to galvanise the Trawlerboys who began to dominate the game and they pulled a goal back in the 29th minute. A free-kick from the right by Joe Francis was headed on by both Crane and Sam Gaughran, with Chris Henderson getting the final touch to send the ball into the net.

Lowestoft had a great chance to level the scores in the 37th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Marks held back Crane from a Lee Smith corner but Francis’ spot kick was saved by the diving Danny Naisbitt.

The visitors made an identical bad start to the second half conceding a third goal in the 50th minute, as Marks set up a simple tap-in for O’Connor.

Lee Smith saw his delicate chip from the edge of the area land on top of the net, before Lowestoft’s pressure was rewarded with a second goal in the 78th minute. Jake Jessup’s long free-kick bisected the home defence for substitute Michael Frew to race clear and drill the ball past Naisbitt.

Despite a couple of scares in their own penalty area, the final 10 minutes saw Lowestoft camped inside the Braintree half. As the visitors forced some late set-pieces Jessup joined the attack, but the Blues could not force an equalising goal.

• There was further frustration for Lowestoft yesterday as they missed out on a first round draw against League One leaders Tranmere.

Braintree will instead host the Merseysiders, while Southern League Arlesey Town have been drawn away to 1987 winners Coventry.

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