Saturday, January 12, 2013
Lynn’s brave FA Trophy run was finally ended by Blue Square Premier Southport this afternoon.
The Linnets’ epic journey in this term’s competition was stopped at the last-16 stage thanks to a 25-yard rocket from Andy Parry in the first half and a late strike from substitute Steven Tames.
But Lynn were far from disgraced against a club who play three levels above them. They were right in the game until the visitors’ second ended hopes of reaching the quarter-finals — or forcing a replay.
The Linnets’ fairytale run had already exceeded expectations going into this afternoon’s third round clash at The Walks. Gary Setchell’s men had seen off five higher-level teams; Barwell, Carshalton Athletic, Eastbourne Borough, Worksop Town and AFC Telford United.
However, hopes were still high that Lynn could pull off yet another shock, especially having already seen off one Conference side at The Walks, Telford, in the last round.
The Linnets went into the match in good spirits and named 10 of the 11 that saw off Andy Sinton’s Shropshire side in December. Jason Lee came in for suspended defender Ryan Fryatt at centre-back. ‘Keeper Danny Gay and frontman Shane Tolley were, as ever, cup-tied.
Unlike Telford, Port arrived in Norfolk in good knick having recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this term on Tuesday night at Lincoln. A run of two defeats in 12 games, admittedly in all competitions, has seen Liam Watson’s Sandgrounders move up to 12th in non-league’s top tier.
Michael Bakare and Charlie Joyce, who are both cup-tied, were unable to show off their talents in the huge tie. Alan Moogan, rested in midweek, was unable to beat his injury problems, but Russell Benjamin and Aaron Chalmers shook off their niggles to make Port’s bench.
It was going to take something special from the Linnets to cause their biggest upset yet. But they nearly got off to a horror start when dangerman Shaun Whalley’s corner found its way straight into the net. Fortunately for Lynn, the man in the middle blew for a foul against Lynn ‘keeper Alex Street.
The Evo-Stik Division One South hosts responded well and enjoyed a decent spell of pressure as they found their way into the tie.
Sam Mulready got himself in some promising positions on the left as the Norfolk club upped the ante. But Liam Watson’s men clearly possessed that little bit of higher-level class and carved out the first half-chance, which Andy Owens hit straight at Street.
It didn’t upset Lynn’s stride and they nearly took the lead when Russell Dunkley crashed a header against the bar from yards out. Somehow, somehow, Dan Quigley’s rebound in the ensuing scramble was hooked off the line. The Walks’ crowd appealed long and hard for a goal — and they saw one given — but unfortunately it was 60 seconds later at the other end.
As the noise still reverberated around The Walks, a loose ball rolled to defender Parry who was striding towards it. From the moment it left his foot it looked destined for the net. And it did just that as his powerful drive whistled past Street to put the visitors in front.
The wonder strike quietened the crowd, and the game, for a while as higher-level Port started to settle. Chris Almond fizzed a vicious effort over before Liam Willis headed a Whalley free-kick straight into Lynn’s back-up ‘keeper’s arms.
It was another set-piece which caused the next problem for Lynn. This time Owens’ header was hacked away from inside the six-yard box by Jason Lee.
The half-time whistle soon blew with the Linnets trailing at the break for the first time during their epic run. Could they complete a stirring comeback?
They almost equalised immediately after the re-start as Lee forced Tony McMillan into a save before, from the next corner, Phil Gulliver scuffed a shot goalwards — which was turned away.
Substitute Tames’ fresh legs saw him soon streak clear for the Conference club but his right-footed effort drifted harmlessly wide as the tie remained on a knife edge.
You could cut the tension with a sharp blade. The next goal was always going to be vital. But Dunkley wasn’t going to score it as he limped off with a hamstring problem. Jamie Thurlbourne replaced him and went to the left of midfield. Mulready moved up top.
He provided a threat in behind and it was his pace which eventually created space for Steve Spriggs to get a sight of goal. However, Lynn’s top goalscorer pulled his attempt from the edge of the box just wide. Thurlbourne then had a free-kick saved comfortably.
Setchell’s men kept believing. And pushing. And they had their goalie Street to thank for keeping them in the game when he bravely denied Tames with his legs with little more than 10 minutes left.
At the other end, a few blocked shots, and a half opening for Danny Beaumont — which he spurned with a heavy first touch — raised noise levels and hopes. Could Lynn deliver another late show?
Port headed into the last 10 minutes effectively a man down. Having made all of their three substitutions, Willis had to battle on and hobble about to keep it 11 v 11.
And his efforts were rewarded when Port sealed their place in the next round thanks to a mix-up between Richard Bunting and Street. Lynn’s skipper went to head the ball home, but his ‘keeper was on his way out to shorten the distance between the pair. The miscommunication allowed Tames to get onto the ball, turn, spin, and slot home to end the Linnets dream — and their fine, fine, fine run.
Lynn: Street, Watson, Gulliver, Lee (Beaumont, 76), Yong, Spriggs, Quigley, Bunting (White, 88), Thomson, Mulready, Dunkley (Thurlbourne, 60). Subs not used: Johnson, Buhlemann. Booked: Bunting, Quigley.
Southport: McMillan, Smith, Lever (Willis, 5), Parry, Grand, Whalley, Ledsham, Owens, Almond (Tames, 46), Lynch (Benjamin, 63), Poku. Subs not used: Hibbert, Chalmers. Booked: Grand, Whalley, Tames. Goal: Parry (17), Tames (85).
Referee: K. Hill