Lowestoft Town 4, Whitley Bay 0
Michael Bailey Lowestoft Town took a giant step towards reaching the FA Vase final at Wembley with a 4-0 demolition of 10-man Whitley Bay in the semi final first leg.
FA Vase semi final - first leg
Lowestoft Town took a giant step towards reaching the FA Vase Final at Wembley with a 4-0 demolition of 10-man Whitley Bay.
Jamie Godbold's injury time goal could prove to be vital as Lowestoft take a hefty lead up to the north-east for the second leg of their semi-final, knowing that an away goal could effectively kill the tie.
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Over 2,000 fans at Crown Meadow saw Town play over three-quarters of the match against 10 men and were sent home dreaming of Wembley after a convincing and thoroughly deserved win.
Town, with the sporadic but strong wind in their favour, made a dream start after Richard Woodrow gave them the lead after only four minutes.
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Russell Stock put the midfielder through and with the Whitley Bay defence completely flat footed he coolly slotted into the bottom left corner past keeper Terry Burke.
The game was being fiercely contested and on 13 minutes Lowestoft were handed a guilt edged opportunity to cement a first leg lead after Whitley Bay defender Brian Rowe was sent off after clashing with Bradley Hough, the Town player going down clutching his face.
With Whitley Bay down to 10 men, Lowestoft started to turn the screw. Reece Hunn's fire cracker of a shot was excellently tipped over by Burke on 25 minutes as a winter blizzard infused at Crown Meadow.
Lowestoft did not have to wait long for their second goal Russell Stock and Jamie Godbold combined excellently in midfield to send Hough clear and the Lowestoft Town winger was brought down by Burke. With a tense home crowd on the edge of their seats Woodrow calmly slotted his spot kick into the bottom corner to send Crown Meadow wild.
It got better for Lowestoft four minutes before half time when Ryan Bloomfield's deep and wickedly curling cross from the left had keeper Burke in all kinds of trouble and Stock took advantage heading from a couple of yards to give Lowestoft Town a 3-0 half time lead.
Playing against the wind in the second half, Town started on a front foot, a wonderful run from Godbold skipping past a couple of players set up Woodrow for the shot but he drilled wide from 20 yards.
Whitley Bay finally had a sight of the Lowestoft goal on 53 minutes but striker Lee Kerr drilled his free kick from the edge of the area low and wide.
A minute later, Whitley made their first change with Woodhouse replacing Douglas but two minutes later Lowestoft came within inches of extending their lead even further.
Woodrow sent Godbold racing into the Bay's penalty box but keeper Burke got a faint touch on the winger's lob to deflect it narrowly wide of the far post.
Just before the hour mark, Blues keeper Andy Reynolds made a fantastic save tipping over Paul Chow's close range header to prevent Lowestoft Town scoring an away goal.
On 63 minutes Whitley Bay made their second change Robinson replaced by Minto.
By this time Lowestoft were struggling to keep hold of the ball with Whitley Bay finally getting into the game despite being a player down.
After 66 minutes Blues keeper Reynolds picked up a nasty injury which required several minutes of treatment. He had to be stretched off and will be a doubt for the second leg next weekend. Adam Rix came on as his replacement.
Lowestoft began pressing to extend their advantage and Woodrow and Stock had excellent effort on goals from long range that flew narrowly wide. With 25 minutes remaining, Lowestoft made their second change Gary McGee replacing the excellent Stock.
On 78 minutes Whitley Bay made their final change, with Dugdale coming off for Smith.
With time running out, the Lowestoft fans sensed their team still needed one more goal to make the most of the situation they were in and after five minutes of injury time, Crown Meadow erupted as Gary McGee's exquisite touch sent Godbold clear and he duly despatched the ball into the net from 10 yards, before flinging himself into the home fans to celebrate.
t Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Poppy, Bloomfield, Woodrow, Saunders, Plaskett, Godbold, King, Stock, Hough, Hunn. Subs: McGee, McKenna, Pike, Lewis, Rix.
t Whitley Bay: Burke, Taylor, Douglas, Rowe, Coulson, Dugdale, Moore, Robson, Kerr, Chow, Robinson. Subs: Minto, Livermore, Graham, Woodhouse, Smith.
t Attendance: 2102.
t Man of the match: Richard Woodrow