Wembley is within range for the Blues

Phil Banyard Lowestoft Town reached the fifth round of the FA Vase for only the second time in the club's history with a memorable 3-2 win over Blackstones at Crown Meadow.

Phil Banyard

Lowestoft Town reached the fifth round of the FA Vase for only the second time in the club's history with a memorable 3-2 win over Blackstones at Crown Meadow.

The Blues' victory sees them receive £1,500 in prize money and a place in the last 16, and they are now just four games - the fifth round, the quarter-finals and the two-legged semi-final - away from the final at Wembley.

Director of football Gary Bennett said: "It's an incredible achievement considering we haven't really strengthened the playing squad too much. It's absolutely awesome for a club and a town of this size.

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"It has kept our season alive, because where we are in the league, the Vase is the be all and end all for us. It was partying into the night after we won."

A crowd of 524 witnessed the Blues progress and Bennett added: "We have the best support in the league by far, they never stopped singing and that helps the players enormously.

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"I spoke to some of the Blackstones officials and they said they wished they had the same level of support."

Lowestoft almost made an incredible start to Saturday's tie when Richard Woodrow put the ball in the net after just two minutes, but the effort was ruled out for offside.

The hosts continued to dominate the early exchanges and Russell Stock's header from Reece Hunn's corner was cleared off the line by a Blackstones defender.

It came as something of a surprise when the visitors took the lead on 22 minutes, as Dan Cotton's shot hit the base of the post and former Wisbech striker Liam Harrold was on hand to tap in.

Harrold threatened again soon afterwards but was denied by Andy Reynolds in the Blues goal, while Stock went close with a long range effort at the other end.

Lowestoft drew level five minutes from half-time as Bradley Hough's rising shot found the net to make it all square at the break.

Reynolds produced another fine save to keep out Kevin Ainslie's effort on the hour mark, but it was Lowestoft who took the lead nine minutes later. The hosts were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out and Darren Cockrill smashed the ball past the keeper.

Six minutes later, the Blues looked to have made the game safe when Gary McGee fired home the third after a neat interchange with Bradley Hough and Jamie Godbold.

But, with 11 minutes remaining, Phil Stebbing was fouled in the area and Harrold converted the spot kick to ensure a nervous finale.

The Blues held on, however and will be in today's draw for the fifth round, although Bennett insisted they were not yet dreaming of Wembley. "We have to take every game as it comes because we could fall flat on our faces in the next round," he said. "I would love to get to the quarter-finals as we've never been there before, then it starts getting really exciting."

They will be without the services of Stock and Cockrill for the February 9 tie, however, as the pair will be serving suspensions.

Lowestoft: 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.

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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