Blues Stock up lead with derby success
Chris Lakey A superb volley from Russell Stock proved the difference for Lowestoft Town against local rivals Kirkley & Pakefield in front of more than 1,500 fans at Crown Meadow.
A superb volley from Russell Stock proved the difference for Lowestoft Town against local rivals Kirkley & Pakefield in front of more than 1,500 fans at Crown Meadow.
Stock struck with little more than 10 minutes remaining to put the Blues two goals up and although Allicion Blake pulled one back inside the last minute of normal time, Town hung on for a 2-1 win to stretch their lead to nine points at the top of the Ridgeons League Premier Division.
The victory was the perfect way to prepare for next Saturday's crunch clash away at Leiston, who could knock Lowestoft from the top if they win their games in hand.
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"That's one we're looking forward to already, it's a massive game," said Blues joint manager Micky Chapman. "It's only a short journey down the A12 and from what I'm hearing we could take a couple of hundred fans down there with us.
"It will be tough, we know that, because Leiston are a very good side. They have got a lot of games in hand but then we have got the points on the board and I know what position I'd rather be in."
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Chapman was a proud man after watching the Blues overcome their local rivals - and not just because they emerged with three hard earned points.
"I'd just like to pay tribute to the supporters," he said. "To get a crowd of over 1,500 is absolutely fantastic. I'm pretty certain that no other club in the country at our level gets those sort of crowds.
"The atmosphere at Crown Meadow was absolutely electric and it helped us over the line, there's no doubt about that. It was a good game of football and I think we deserved to come away with the points, although it was certainly a hard-fought win."
K&P will probably feel they deserved a point from the game after creating the best chances in a goalless first half.
Striker Nathan Stone forced Blues' keeper Andy Reynolds into a finger-tip save, while Chris Henderson should have scored with a close range header from a free-kick.
At the other end, visiting keeper Robert Woodcock had to be at full stretch to palm a Gary McGee shot around the post.
The game sprung into life early in the second half when Town skipper Darren Cockrill tapped home from close range with 47 minutes on the clock after the KP Royals failed to clear a free-kick.
The home side then dominated play but did not get their reward until Stock took his chance. McGee cut in from the right but his left-foot shot skewed to Stock on the edge of the area. He chested the ball down, swivelled and hit a stunning volley into the top corner giving Woodcock no chance.
With time almost up, the visitors finally broke through the Blues defence when Blake ran onto a fine through ball from substitute Jordan Blyth to slot the ball past Reynolds.
There was still time for Nick Shorten's men to threaten the home goal as referee Adi Sannerude found around five minutes of added time, but Town held on to send the vast majority of the 1,523 crowd home happy.
The Blues remain 11 points clear of Leiston, who won 3-2 at Woodbridge, but their Suffolk rivals have five games in hand and will be firmly in pole position if they make home advantage count next weekend.
That's not something Chapman, and the Blues supporters, are contemplating after Saturday's memorable victory.