Barwell 1 King’s Lynn Town 0 – Late error proves so costly as Linnets crash out of FA Cup
- Credit: Lindsey Parnaby/Focus Images Ltd
When asked his thoughts in the build-up to this third qualifying round tie, King's Lynn Town manager Gary Setchell felt a moment of magic or an awful mistake would ultimately determine the victors, writes Mark Hearle.
How ironic it was then that the latter proved true, allowing home forward Jamie Towers to settle the game, handing Barwell an undeserved victory to dispose of Setchell's battling troops and extinguish Lynn fans' dreams of another extended run in the world's most famous knockout competition.
The Linnets went into the game still minus injured skipper Sam Gaughran and fellow defender Jordan Yong, but were able to call upon the services of utility man and debutant Lee Smith who slotted into a left-back position.
Town's first real chance fell to stand-in captain David Bridges, but his connection was poor and saw the ball bobble harmlessly wide of Liam Castle's goal following Liam Hurst's low centre. Shortly after Lynn's injury jinx struck again when Conor Marshall was replaced by Liam Fryatt, seeing Smith moved to the right side of his team's defence.
Lee Stevenson worked some much-needed space for a shot, but saw his effort blocked by a combination of two defenders inside the box, with chances for both sides at a premium.
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Smith's dangerous cross caused panic in the Canaries' defence with the ball appearing to strike the hand of Liam May, only for referee Declan Bourne to wave away visiting penalty appeals. Just before the break Toby Hilliard was hauled to the ground. Michael Clunan's free-kick was met by Ryan Fryatt, but he glanced his header wide as Town's best first-half chance went begging.
Setchell was forced into another change just minutes after the restart with Sam Mulready withdrawn due to a tight hamstring. He was replaced by Jacek Zielonka.
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Barwell's Callum Woodward found himself in Bourne's notebook following a lunge on Hurst as the scrappy nature of the game boiled over. Town were enjoying slightly more possession at this time and the third in a series of corners saw Clunan's flag kick met powerfully by Fryatt, only for the ball to be cleared from the line by the alert Brady Hickey with Castle beaten.
With 14 minutes remaining, and minds wandering to a Walks replay, the game's defining moment arrived. Visiting keeper Alex Street, who up until then had enjoyed a relatively straightforward afternoon between the posts, ventured from his goal to clear the ball upfield. However, his clearance lacked height, cannoned into an attacking player, and with the ball spinning away at a ridiculous angle it fell to Jamie Towers, who could hardly believe his good fortune as he stooped low to head the ball into an unguarded net.
The Linnets were devastated but to their credit rolled their sleeves up and responded, with Zielonka firing a low drive at Castle. Hickey had two half-chances for the hosts as the game finally opened up. Deep into stoppage time another Clunan corner was this time met by Kern Miller who planted his close-range header inches over the bar and onto the roof of Castle's goal as Town's cup adventure ended for another year.