A night to forget as Lowestoft are grounded by Concord

Jonathan Redhead Concord Rangers 5, Lowestoft Townn 0: Lowestoft Town saw their lead at the top of the Ryman League Division North disintegrate in deepest Essex last night.

Jonathan Redhead

Concord Rangers 5, Lowestoft Town 0

Lowestoft Town saw their lead at the top of the Ryman League Division North disintegrate in deepest Essex last night.

A first-half hat-trick from Concord Rangers left-winger Dave Collins sent the Blues spinning to their first away defeat of the season while their lead at the top of the table - which once stood at 12 points - has disappeared with the victors pulling level with them on points.

The Blues stay top on goal difference with three games in hand, but need to bounce back quickly from a crushing, but deserved defeat.

It was by far their worst performance of the season as they were never at the races against a side coming into the game with eight straight wins.

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And the sight of left-back Adam Smith leaving the ground with an oxygen mask and the assistance of paramedics, after lying prone on the side of the pitch for 40 minutes apparently out cold, only made the evening worse.

Smith was clattered into the fencing around the pitch in the third minute, but by then the visitors were already a goal down to the Canvey Island-based side.

With less than two minutes on the clock, Michael Begg advanced down the right, and his pull back eluded everyone except Collins who was on hand to side-foot beyond Andy Reynolds in the Blues goal.

Town were clearly caught cold and Greg Crane was booked a minute later as they tried to respond.

Joe Francis appeared to be their main attacking weapon and he went close with a chip from 30 yards after home keeper Dave Brightly had saved his earlier free-kick.

Matt Nolan should have equalised on 29 minutes but fired over from inside the box from Potter's cross.

But the Blues disadvantage was doubled on 31 minutes when Paul Shave played the ball inside Potter and Lyle Taylor pulled the ball back for Collins to score again from close range.

Four minutes later and Crane was fortunate to stay on after a foul on home skipper Nicky Cowley.

However, worse punishment came from the resulting free-kick as Collins' effort was deflected in low beyond Reynolds.

Town responded with Scott Mitchell coming on for Craig Bussens as they went to three men up front.

They failed to fashion a chance and within five minutes of the second half, they conceded another.

The Blues defence failed to clear a left-wing corner and although Reynolds saved Begg's close-range effort with his feet, Shave was on hand to tuck home his second goal in two games.

Town tried to respond and Gary McGee saw his volley deflected inches wide for the visitors' first corner.

Ten minutes later and Town's last throw of the dice saw Jamie Godbold make his first appearance after breaking his jaw, for Nolan.

Yet it was the home side who should have had five as Taylor skinned centre-back Matt Halliday and as he squared the ball, Reynolds got finger-tips to the ball to divert it beyond the on-rushing Danny Heale.

Mitchell went closest to a Town response, but his left-foot drive from the edge of the box was straight at Brightly on the hour.

Collins was withdrawn after 68 minutes, having done the damage to be replaced by Liam Hopkins.

Francis flashed a free-kick over with 15 minutes left but I was the most Town could manage.

Taylor almost added to his 28 goals this season but his left-foot effort hit the outside of the post in the last ten minutes although Reynolds appeared to have it covered.

But in the last minute, Taylor got the goal his performance deserved. Running clean through, his first effort hit the post, but he had the composure to collect the rebound and beat Reynolds before slotting home.

t Lowestoft: Reynolds, Plaskett, Smith (Potter 3), Crane, Halliday, Holt, Fisk, Bussens (Mitchell, 38), Nolan (Godbold, 61), McGee. Subs not used: Forshaw, Bloomfield. Bookings: Crane 3, Plaskett 22, Mitchell 40.

t Concord: Brightly, Miller, Gloziel, Shave, Easterfold, King, Begg, Cowley (Carlos 86), Taylor, Heale (Kalipha 79), Collins (Hopkins, 68). Subs not used: Sinfield, Buckfield. Bookings Shave 5 Goals: Collins 2, 31, 35. Shave 50, Taylor 90.