Photo gallery: Evo-Stik Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 3, Skelmersdale United 3
16:52 29 March 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
A 31-minute hat-trick from Andy Hall wasn’t enough to help Lynn heap more away-day misery on Skelmersdale.
The Linnets’ number seven netted in the 15th, 20th and 31st minute – two of which were headers outstandingly assisted by the mecurial David Bell – to give the hosts control of a thrilling first half. But United, who haven’t won on the road since Boxing Day, more than contributed to an immense opening period with Dean Astbury finding the net twice himself thanks to a sweet free-kick and thumping half volley.
While the goals slowed after the break, the action didn’t as both sides had goals disallowed. But Skem ensured they took something home to show for their efforts when Astbury beat Alex Street to a loose ball and poked home to complete his treble – much to the anger of Lynn’s goalie and his team-mates who complained he had the ball kicked out of his hands.
And even though the hosts reacted well to the setback they couldn’t find a winner as both sides shared the spoils at The Walks.
Lynn went into the game looking to record back-to-back victories after ending their run of five defeats last time out while Skem needed a victory to boost their hopes of squeezing into the top five.
Gary Setchell stuck with the 3-5-2 formation that served him so well against Frickley making just one change in the process with Bell replacing the banned Jake Jones.
That back trio was exposed in the seventh minute when George Thomson lost the ball in midfield and Sean Miller was found to Stuart Wall’s left. The number seven made a hash of his effort though and it bobbled into the arms of Alex Street.
He was powerless to prevent the next shot, after Dan Quigley had upended Tom Ince on the edge of his own box, as Astbury whipped his set piece into the top corner. Ashley Dunn soon worked Lynn’s keeper again as he fizzed a drive into his midriff. The Linnets’ early woes continued as defender Wall – who only last week made his long-awaited return – walked off. He was replaced by the fit-again Jason Lee.
But things soon looked brighter thanks to Hall’s slide-rule finish. Sam Mulready and Liam Hurst, who laid it on a plate for the tireless midfielder-turned-striker, were influential in the build-up. Quigley crashed a header into the net moments later but referee Chris Francis bizarrely disallowed the goal – although he must have been the only man in the stadium who spotted an infringement.
It didn’t matter though as Bell’s magic teed up Hall and he doubled his account for the afternoon to put the hosts in front.
The exciting action continued as Connor McCarthy drew the best out of Street with an effort that looked destined for the roof of the net. But somehow the goalie known as Pedro stretched every sinew to claw the ball away from danger.
His excellent save was rewarded in the 31st minute when Hall completed his treble. Like his second effort, the pint-sized player rose highest to head home another fantastic Bell delivery. This time, rather than a whipped centre, it was a raking diagonal ball which was worthy of the Premier League, let alone the Northern one.
That wasn’t it in terms of quality mind as Astbury’s rocket from outside the box whistled past Street on its way into the corner. And at the other end, Thomson rattled the post with a slightly-less emphatic half volley of his own.
The midfielder, impressive on the ball as always, showed his improving defensive attributes, by producing a terrific block to stop Miller’s drive which looked likely to trouble Street.
A breathless opening period came to a close with the Linnets one goal to the good. Creator-in-chief Bell nearly made it four when he showed Alan Burton a clean pair of heels but failed to deceive Conor Mitchell as he tried to whip his effort into the near post.
Skem copied Lynn’s suit and had a strike of their own chalked off for offside as Ince prodded home from close range. As the chances dried up, and the incredible pace of proceedings understandably slowed, Mulready raced through onto Bell’s looped through ball of sorts but lifted over. He buried his next opportunity expertly but was flagged offside.
Home hearts were in their mouths a few minutes later when Aaron Turner’s cut back evaded everyone in the six-yard box and trickled out of the area in agonising fashion for United.
Quigley left the field after blocking a shot with his face and seemingly complaining of double vision. And soon after the visitors drew level as Street parried an initial header and Astbury pounced.
Bell nearly brought the house down with a shot from halfway which forced Mitchell to scurry across goal. The shot-stopped produced a top save down to his right to deny Thomson’s free kick and Hurst went so close with a header from the resulting corner with a header that half of the ground thought had gone in.
However, try as they might they couldn’t find that all-important fourth, and neither could Skem who spurned a great late chance through their own hat-trick hero on the day.
Lynn (3-5-2): Street, Bore, Yong, Wall (Lee, 13), R. Clarke, Thomson, Hall, Quigley (Ward, 76), Mulready (E. Clarke, 84), Bell, Hurst. Subs not used: Stocker, Butt. Booked: Hall. Goals: Hall (15, 20, 31).
Skelmersdale (4-4-2): Mitchell, Wylie, Holden, Hardwick, Burton, Dunn, Miller, Prince (Turner, 61), Astbury, McCarthy, Ince. Subs not used: Morning, O’Reilly, Carden, Hibbert. Booked: None. Goals: Astbury (10, 36, 77)
Referee: C. Francis