Evo-Stik Division One South: Halesowen Town 1, King’s Lynn Town 0

Lynn slipped a point behind Coalville as they lost at play-off hopefuls Halesowen.

A 21st-minute strike from Neil Barnfield consigned the Linnets to their second defeat in three matches in a match which saw the Yeltz spurn some excellent second-half chances to make it more comfortable.

The only saving grace for Lynn, on a day they deserved to lose in the end, was that the league leaders only drew to leave it all set up for a barnstorming clash between the top two in Leicestershire on Tuesday night.

The Linnets' latest opponents had done them a huge favour in midweek by winning 1-0 against the Ravens. It ruined the long-term table-toppers' game in hand and left them just ahead of The Walks team – only by virtue of goal difference – despite having been 17 points clear earlier in the term.

The Yeltz helpfulness was unlikely to extend to this afternoon mind with them sitting just three points outside the prized play-off places and one place behind their Midlands rivals Sutton Coldfield Town.

With Gary Setchell's men travelling to Leicestershire on Tuesday for a top-of-the-table clash he know how important it was for his troops to keep their momentum going.

The Lynn boss made three changes to the side who won 2-0 at home to Loughborough Dynamo last week. Out went Ryan Fryatt, Danny Beaumont and Sam Mulready. In came Ross Watson, Dan Jacob and Shane Tolley.

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Captain Richard Bunting was named as a substitute as he continued to battle his on-going groin problem. But unfortunately he was removed from the squad, and replaced by Charlie Butt, after seemingly breaking down in the warm-up.

The men from Tennyson Avenue went into the game having lost just once in 16 league matches. And their confidence, created from their own form and Coalville's wobble, was displayed instantly as the Linnets came flying out of the blocks.

The title-chasers started like a train inside the opening minutes with a goal-mouth scramble and Dan Quigley's effort endangering the hosts' goal.

Then it took an outstanding Paul Evans save to keep Lynn at bay when, at full stretch, he denied Tolley what looked a certain goal as he got onto the end of Jacob's inch-perfect centre.

A frenetic opening didn't look like slowing as Halesowen's Jean Gueyes – whose goal beat Coalville in midweek – got in behind left-back Jordan Yong, only to be smothered by Lynn's alert number one Danny Gay.

The match had to settle after 10 minutes. The pace had been blistering. Unsurprisingly, in the driving rain, it did. Then a moment of magic from the Yeltz' top scorer created the opening goal in the middle of the opening 45.

Ben Haseley, known more for the 37 times he has banged home this term, turned on a six-pence to bamboozle Phil Gulliver and play an outstanding reverse pass to his captain Barnfield.

The hosts' skipper made no mistake as he finished off his run into the danger zone by slotting home at the near post to give the West Midlanders the lead.

It was a goal that on the balance of play hadn't really been coming. Yet it did and Setchell's never-say-die men were going to have to show their huge character again.

The lively Tolley had a cross headed over excellently by Brendan Kelly. Then Dan Parker got in front of Russell Dunkley to deny him a certain goal at the near post.

Some more excellent defending, this time from Parker, was enough to stop Tolley making it 1-1. A combination of Steve Spriggs and Dunkley created the chance for the striker nicknamed Custard, but with the goal gaping, he couldn't deliver a sweet finish.

That chance was even less glorious than the one Haseley carved open just before the break which could have put the visitors' hopes in deep trouble.

The fantastic frontman made mincemeat out of Gulliver and Yong to race clear for a golden one-on-one. With his goalscoring record you expected the net to bulge. In his defence, it looked like it was going to until the very last moment when it bobbled just past Gay's far post.

The half-time whistle blew with the Linnets 1-0 down and Coalville 1-0 up at home to Market Drayton. Was the title going to swing back in the direction of the Ravens?

You expected another fast start from second-placed Lynn in a similar ilk to the first half. But it didn't come, and Halesowen enjoyed their best spell of the match.

They could have doubled their advantage when they got in behind Yong, not for the first time, thanks to a fine one-two between Mitchell Botfield and Haseley. But the former was denied at the near post by Gay who saved excellently.

Lynn started to turn the screw with their first lion's share of possession after the break. But Evans hadn't been forced into a save. While at the other end Hasely, who made yards up on Jason Lee, drew a cracking one-handed stop from Lynn's keeper.

Haseley, causing all sorts of problem on the counter with his pace, fizzed over again as he threatened another goal for the Yeltz.

Setchell made a triple-change to try and salvage something from the game with the quiet Spriggs, Tolley and George Thomson being replaced by Beaumont, Mulready and James Jepson. Could it be enough to earn Lynn some points?

Their first genuine chance of the second period fell to full-back Watson. It wasn't an easy one. But he lashed it over the bar with his left foot on the volley.

Botfield went close to wrapping up the win for Halesowen, who were excellent after the break, and Aaron Griffiths thought he had when he smashed the ball home. However, he was adjudged to have been offside.

The same fate bestowed Haseley as the hosts made a mess of their sixth genuine chance to double their advantage. But in the end they didn't need it as they kept up their march towards a top-five spot as Lynn lost ground on Coalville.

Halesowen: Evans, Bowen (Hull, 67), Meacham, Botfield, Parker, Kelly, Griffiths, Barnfield, Warmer, Haseley, Gueyes. Subs not used: Winsper, Baker, Hill, Flower. Goal: Barnfield (21)

Lynn: Gay, Watson, Gulliver, Lee, Yong, Spriggs (Beaumont, 73), Quigley, Thomson (Jepson, 73), Jacob, Dunkley, Tolley (Mulready, 73). Subs not used: Fryatt, Butt.

Referee: A. Newbold.

Attendance: 363

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