Vase delight for Lowestoft Town

Stuart Baker Lowestoft Town moved into the last 16 of the FA Vase on their way to Wembley, hopefully, with a 3-2 fourth-round win over Blackstones.

Stuart Baker

Sterling work by the Lowestoft Town groundsmen David Page and his helpers saw this FA Vase fourth round tie go ahead in which Lowestoft welcomed back Neil Plaskett but were without Carl Poppy.

Blackstones were relieved with only two minutes gone when Lowestoft thought they had opened the scoring after Hough and Stock combined to set up Woodrow.

But his goal was ruled out for an offside decision - which brought great roars from the massed crowd of Lowestoft supporters behind the goal.

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Cockrill blasted high and wide as Town dominated the opening exchanges, with Hough particularly prominent.

For Blackstones, Phil Stebbing chased a lost cause on nine minutes to win a throw-in from which he received the ball but missed the target by 15 yards.

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Chances at either end were few and far between with young Dale Smith, in particular, looking strong and solid at the back for the Lowestoft.

Hough was tripped in full flight but a weak free-kick by Godbould saw the ball sent straight into the visitors' well-prepared wall with 18 minutes on the clock.

More good work by Hough earned Lowestoft a corner. Reece Hunn's kick was met by a downward header by Stock, which bounced up and was cleared off the line by Robbie Blowers.

With 22 minutes gone, and in their first real attack, a defence-cutting ball put Blackstone's Dan Cotton away on the right.

His instant shot hit the base of the post and the former Wisbech centre forward Liam Harrold had a

simple chance to put Blackstones into a surprising 1-0 lead against the run of play.

The large crowd, increased by many postponements in the eastern area, looked stunned and Blackstones broke away again, with the dangerous Harrold having the ball taken away from him by keeper Reynolds as he rushed out of goal to narrow the angle.

Good covering work by Neil Plaskett ended a Blackstones attack built down the right side, whilst at the other end Cockrill dinked a toe- poking shot that brought a low save by Flavell.

A bad kick-out by the visiting keeper saw the ball go straight to Stock, who hit the ball as quick as a flash from 30 yards out which missed the target by just a foot on 38 minutes.

Flavell then saved the day from Godbould as the action hotted up towards the interval by tipping the ball round a post for a corner.

Wiht five minutes to go the equaliser duly came from boot of Bradley HOUGH who hit a magnificent unstoppable rising shot into the roof of the Blackstones net.

It was no more than Town deserved in a very interesting first half.

It was a scrappy second-half opening, but after 57 minutes Lowestoft produced a move of real quality.

Stock elected to take on Paul Sheehan down the left-hand side of the penalty area and although the defender stretched out a leg to reach the ball, he could only divert it to Hough on the right flank, whose shot as he came in went perilously close.

Soon after, Gary McGee came on for some more fire power, with Smith being replaced, and at the other end of the pitch, a

death-defying save by Andy Reynolds saved the day for Town when Kevin Ainslie sprinted through and looked certain to score on the hour mark.

Twice in succession Phil Stebbing was wasteful with crosses into the box when in a clear position on goal down the left wing, both his efforts going way off target.

Hough rode a tackle by Ross Watson and brought out a good save by Flavell.

But with 69 minutes gone the referee awarded Lowestoft a free-kick 20 yards out and Darren COCKRILL thundered the ball for it to nestle in the corner of the Blackstones net and make it 2-1 to Lowestoft.

The game hotted up somewhat thereafter with several tackles beginning to fly in.

After Cockrill had let fly from another free-kick and just missed out, it was substitute GARY McGEE'S turn to find the net on 75 minutes.

A thrilling three-man move involving Godbold and Hough saw the ball received into the path of the predatory McGee and he easily beat Flavell to make it 3-1.

Phil Stebbing brought out a reflex save by Reynolds and in the next move his jinking run on goal in the 79th minute earned him a penalty after being brought down, and Blackstone's LIAM HARROLD stepped up to score his second goal of the day from the spot and make it an interesting 3-2 scoreline.

Town went searching for a fourth goal as the game went into the final 10 minutes and they won two corners which ended with Ross King and McGee searching for a goal but keeper Flavell, who had been overworked in the second half, resisted them.

With four minutes signalled on the card for injury time Blackstones gave it their all and a massive long throw in tested Town as the ball fell to Ainslie's feet. It took a deflection but t was saved by Reynolds as Town won the day and moved into the last 16 of the FA Vase on their way to Wembley hopefully.

Full-time: Lowestoft Town 3, Blackstones 2

t Lowestoft Town: A Reynolds, D Smith, M Potter, R Woodrow, M Saunders, N Plaskett, J Godbould, D Cockerill, R Stock, B Hough, R Hunn. Subs: G McGee, A McKenna, R King, R Bloomfield, A Rix.

t Blackstones: I Flavell, R Blowers, T Smith, P Sheehan, R Jones, R Watson, D Lotton, L Kennedy, L Harrold, P Stebbing, K Ainslie. Subs: A Boome, N Steele, R Bond, A Cotton, R Stainsby.

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