Evo-Stik Division One South: Leek Town 1, King’s Lynn Town 1
16:53 01 December 2012
Archant © 2012
Striker Tim Grice’s 81st-minute equaliser stopped Lynn from getting back to winning ways in the league.
Winger Steve Spriggs’ fifth penalty of the season had looked set to have secured a hard-fought triumph for the Linnets.
However, his 16th goal of the campaign – Lynn’s ninth from the spot this term – wasn’t enough to see The Walks’ outfit go home with a precious victory.
And it was a point they had to dig deep to record with Leek creating more chances and for large parts being the better side.
Lynn arrived in Staffordshire looking to get their league campaign back on track after back-to-back defeats – including their first home loss of the Evo-Stik Division One South campaign to Belper Town.
However, they travelled in high spirits after enjoying consecutive cup victories in their last two matches.
Norfolk Senior Cup hero Jason Turner had to be content with a place on the bench despite bagging a hat-trick during Thursday’s 3-0 win at Thetford Town.
He didn’t have to wait long to get some action though as Lynn’s slow start got worse when Russell Dunkley limped off with a suspected hamstring injury.
The powerful striker, nicknamed The Beast, didn’t even last 10 minutes on a boggy and bobbly pitch which Gary Setchell’s men seemed to struggle to get to grips with.
The hosts were comfortably the better side in the opening exchanges, even if it wasn’t pretty. And Dan Quigley aside, the Linnets were not at the races.
Player after player slipped and fell to the ground as Leek found their footing on the pitch – and in the game – to far greater effect.
Playmaker Dan Shelley found acres of space on his home Harrison Park turf as he added some much-needed class and control to proceedings.
Leek’s impressive number eight tested Lynn number one Danny Gay with a fine left-footed drive from the edge of the box before the shot-stopper got down quickly to deny man mountain Matt Haddrell moments later.
Yet the huge striker’s next attempt, a header at the back post as he overpowered Ross Watson, drew an even better save from Gay. It looked for all the world that the Blues’ number nine had found the back of the net until the shot-stopper clawed it away with his fingertips.
Chances for Setchell’s men, and possession, were in short supply, but Phil Gulliver and Turner both saw half-chance headers cause no real danger.
Yet, as Quigley and Richard Bunting started to get a foot in the game as a pair, the Linnets looked like they would at least make it to the break with the scores all square.
However, they went one better, when Turner latched onto Jamie Thurlbourne’s pass and toe-ended the ball beyond ‘keeper Daniel Lloyd-Smith. The veteran frontman hit the deck and to the disgust of the Leek goalie – who claimed he hadn’t touched him - was awarded a penalty.
Spriggs coolly slotted home to give his side a lead at the break that they scarcely deserved – but they had one all the same.
It was that man who nearly doubled Setchell’s men’s advantage after the re-start when he fizzed an effort across the goal from the right-hand side of the box. However, Lloyd-Smith was equal to it this time and pushed his effort away and just beyond the on-coming Turner.
But it was much more encouraging from the Linnets as Quigley – who was immense all afternoon – and his team-mates started to impose themselves on proceedings far better than they had done in the opening 45 minutes.
Thankfully, the quality continued to improve from both sides – probably because the game was becoming more stretched.
Leek substitute Peter Wright, who replaced the injured Haddrell just before the break – showed a few of the men in yellow a clean set of heels before smashing an effort over Gay’s bar.
And almost instantly the hosts’ left-back Matt Bell ventured forward and thumped an even better effort, with his right foot, inches wide of Gay’s upright.
As the Staffordshire side started to get on top again, Tom Urwin, Wright and Bell – who saw a cross clip the top of the bar – go close.
But Lynn, especially Spriggs, still posed a threat and it was Setchell’s goal-machine winger who nearly doubled his team’s advantage as a bit of trickery created an opening. However, his effort flashed just above Lloyd-Weston’s crossbar.
Yet the scoring wasn’t over as Grice slotted home from inside the box – after Lynn failed to clear their lines – to earn his side a share of the points. And he nearly bagged a winner had it not been for another good save from Gay in the Lynn goal.
Spriggs thought he had snatched all three points for Lynn at the death but his cheeky finish, from Quigley’s great through ball, was ruled out for offside.
And there was still time in a breathless second half for Wright to blaze over when he was presented with a chance to win it.
Leek: Lloyd-Weston, Sanders, Smith, Thomas, Bell, Hall, Urwin, Shelley, Grice, Haddrell (Wright, 44), Danylyk. Subs not used: Cope, A. Roberts, D.Roberts. Goal: Grice (81)
Lynn: Gay, Watson, Gulliver, Fryatt, Yong, Spriggs, Bunting, Quigley, Thurlbourne (Lee, 70), Thomson (White, 60), Dunkley (Turner, 9). Subs not used: Mulready. Booked: Watson. Goal: Spriggs (pen, 43)
Referee: J. Thornhill