Ryman Premier Division: Lowestoft 2 Folkestone Invicta 2
PUBLISHED: 16:59 25 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:04 25 March 2017
Shirley D Whitlow
Shaun Bammant was the hero for Lowestoft Town this afternoon as he scored a late equaliser to keep the Blues' play-off hopes just about alive.
Folkestone arrived with six defeats in their last seven matches, playing their fourth away league game in succession, all of which had been defeats.
They were the better side in the first half though, with Sam Hasler’s free-kick deflecting to striker Ian Draycott in just the second minute, but home keeper Jake Jessup smothering the chance.
The Trawlerboys had their first chance in the 13th minute when skipper Adam Smith played top scorer Jake Reed into the left channel, with everyone hesitating expecting offside. The striker woke up in time to cut on to his right and shoot low but saw his effort well held by Tim Roberts.
Folkestone then took control, with Draycott’s cross from the right in the 27th minute completely missed by striker Joe Taylor, unmarked near the penalty spot.
It was a comical miss but the ball was recycled quickly and the visitors took the lead when a snap shot from Draycott deceived everyone and trickled into the bottom-right corner with little defensive attention.
The scrappy game continued at a reasonably slow pace in baking spring sunshine but Fraser Blake-Tracy moved forward for Lowestoft in the 33rd minute, only for Nico Cotton to not quite reach the cross from the left at the back post.
Cotton, on loan from Southend, again went close just before the break when curling a low free-kick from the edge of the Invicta area, only to see Roberts down well to hold the ball.
Lowestoft boss Ady Gallagher got his players going at half-time though as they came flying out of the blocks for the second half.
Ryan Jarvis curled in a central free-kick from 30 yards within two minutes and Blake-Tracy leapt highest only to see his looping header hit the bar. Possession was quickly regained though and Cotton’s low cross from the right found Bammant in space in the box, with time to turn and thump a low shot into the bottom-right corner to equalise.
Reed lashed a chance over in the 60th minute but then Invicta rallied and reclaimed their lead, with Hasler forcing a super save from Jessup in the 76th minute, tipping his free-kick from 25 yards round his post when it looked destined for the top corner.
Hasler went across to the right to take the resulting corner, which was flicked on at the near post, allowing centre-back Frankie Chappell to thump a header into the top-left corner of the net at the back post for 2-1.
It looked like the game was drifting away from the Trawlerboys but, as there so often is at Crown Meadow, there was to be a late twist.
It was that man Bammant again, in the 89th minute, originally opting not to shoot but seeing substitute Harvey Hodd scuff a pass back to him to open up a shot at goal, which the big striker grabbed gratefully by firing into the bottom-right corner to salvage a draw.
It was his eighth goal of the season and extended the Blues’ unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions but could well mean the play-offs are now out of reach with six games remaining. Results left Gallagher’s side a point closer to the play-offs but still in 11th, with three of the teams above them enjoying good wins.
Next up is a trip to lowly Merstham on Saturday for the Trawlerboys, who picked up a good 2-0 win at Met Police today.
Lowestoft: Jessup; Barker, Cole, Blake-Tracy, Smith (C); Forshaw (Hodd 77), Ryan Jarvis, Fisk (Rossi Jarvis 77), Cotton (Henderson 72); Reed, Bammant. Unused sub: Docherty.
Folkestone: Roberts; Vincent, Chappell (C), Davies, Banks; Hasler (Miller 77), Starkey, Cornwell, Wright; Draycott, Taylor. Unused subs: Brabham (GK), Madden, Edge,
Referee: Carl Pearse