Second play-off blow leaves Lowestoft looking to cup

Craig Fleming
Craig Fleming

Lowestoft Town director of football Craig Fleming admits it will be hard to lift his players for Thursday's Suffolk Premier Cup Final against Bury Town.

The Trawler Boys lost their second Isthmian League Premier Division play-off final in successive years when they lost 2-1 to AFC Hornchurch on Monday.

"I'm so down I can't describe it," Fleming told BBC Radio Norfolk.

"It will be incredibly difficult to pick the guys up, we'll have to think carefully what team we pick."

Lowestoft looked the better team for long periods against Hornchurch, particularly during extra-time once Dean Sinclair's spot-kick had cancelled out Leon McKenzie's close-range first-half strike.

Fleming's side twice hit the woodwork, but were caught on the break and Michael Spencer's late winner ensured a second season of heartbreak for the Suffolk side.

Lowestoft had also narrowly failed to climb out of the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2010-11 when they lost 4-3 in the play-off final against Tonbridge.

"I thought last year was an all-time low, and I'm talking about when I played as well, but to come so close twice in two years is soul-destroying," said Fleming.

Fleming and his players were also unhappy with the performance of the referee, who allowed Hornchurch to play on and score while Lowestoft forward Adam Smith was lying on the field with a facial injury.

"I just couldn't get my head around it," said the former Norwich City central defender.

"Adam has a suspected broken jaw, he's lying on the half-way line in agony, and [the referee] just carries on playing.

"We just have to dust ourselves down and go again next year. We've improved every year we've been in this league and if we improve again it doesn't take rocket science to see where we'll go."

Defender Greg Crane added: "They put their bodies on the line, but we should have wrapped the game up in extra-time.

"Next season we have to make sure we don't get in the play-offs by winning the league."