Evo-Stik Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 1, Blyth Spartans 3
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Lynn more than played their part in a cracking encounter but it still wasn't enough to end a three-month search for a home victory.
The hosts responded excellently to going behind inside a minute and carved open enough opportunities to ensure little damage was done by Robbie Dale's finish. Unfortunately, Jake Jones' 21st-minute strike aside, the Linnets couldn't net a second with Peter Winn missing a penalty before the scores were levelled.
More sloppy defending gifted Blyth a second. And Daniel Maguire joined Danny Parker on the scoresheet with 10 minutes left to rub more gaping salt into Lynn's ever-growing wounds.
It's still no home win since New Year's Day for Town who have gone seven matches without collecting a three-point return in front of their own faithful. Frustratingly, had they taken their first-half chances and cut out the errors, this afternoon presented a great opportunity to stop the rot.
But once again it was a case of the same old story – albeit a less sorry one – with Lynn failing to turn a decent display and slip to another disappointing reverse.
The pre-game excitement was all about the return of terrace hero Lee Stevenson. After 11 years away from Norfolk, the classy midfielder was handed an immediate place in the starting XI by boss Gary Setchell following his arrival on loan until the end of the term from Conference Premier Alfreton.
With non-league's FA Cup heroes Blyth in town hopes were high for a cracking game. And it certainly didn't fail to live up to expectations when the deadlock was broken on just 54 seconds.
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Michael Richardson set Alex Nicholson away and, as keeper Alex Street hesitated, his cross was dispatched expertly at the back post by Dale. With the home defence all at sea, the man who opened the scoring – and shot to fame earlier this campaign by netting twice against Birmingham City during his well-known outfit's fairytale cup exploits – should have doubled his account two minutes later. Fortunately for Lynn, he fluffed his lines when set up by Richardson.
As the frenetic pace continued, Jones played in Steve Spriggs at the other end but the wideman's effort caused more harm to the supporters on the steps than it did to Spartans' goal. Both players looked bright though and were involved again when the Linnets carved open a golden chance to equalise in the 16th minute.
Spriggs drifted across the pitch and popped up on the left before screwing the ball back to the on-rushing Stevenson. His burst was ended abruptly by Matthew Wade's well-time block tackle. Jones – like Stevo making his home comeback for the club after re-joining following a brief stint at Halesowen – picked up the loose ball and was sent crashing to the ground inside the area by Ryan Hutchinson's not so excellently adjudged challenge.
The responsibility fell to lone striker for the afternoon Winn and, even though he cooly sent Nicholas Thomson the wrong way, his confident spot-kick crashed off the woodwork and bounced out of danger.
The Chester loanee – who will remain with Setchell's side until the end of the term after having his temporary stay extended, again – made ammends though when his deliciously inviting centre was converted by Jones at the far post.
The host's tails were up now and the inventive Stevenson's latest charge created a chance which he flashed wide. The link play involving Conor Marshall and Winn in the build up was as good as anything seen previously during what had been a fantastic opening period.
Visiting right-back Alex Nicholson, who had beaten five men on a mazy run, and Jones made poor connections when presented with the only other sighter of sorts during the closing stages. So 1-1 it remained as the half-time whistle ended what had been the most entertaining 45 minutes of 2015 in front of Lynn's own fans.
Defender Henry Eze had two stabs at putting his team in front soon after the restart but once again he and his team-mates suffered the misery of conceding early on.
Richardson's corner was headed well off target by Wade yet it turned into a decent assist in the end with Parker regathering the initiative, cutting inside Marshall, and prodding past Street.
It was a blow but Lynn responded to the set back well, again, with Stevenson stinging Thomson's fingertips with a cracking left-footed half volley from the edge of the box.
Any hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Maguire made it three. And had it not been for Street's late excellence, the scoreline could have ended up being much harsher on a Lynn team who just can't get a break on their own turf.
Lynn (4-3-3): Street, Stocker, Fryatt, Eze, Yong, Marshall, Bridges (Mulready, 70), Stevenson, Spriggs (Zielonka, 70), Jones, Winn. Subs not used: Colman, Watson, Ramm. Booked: Fryatt. Goal: Jones (21). Missed pen: Winn (17).
Blyth (4-3-3): Thomson, Nicholson, Watson, Hutchinson (Bramley, 24), Parker, Hooks (Turnbull, 82), Rivers (Hawkins, 71), Richardson, Maguire, Wade, Dale. Subs not used: Wearmouth, Lynch. Booked: None. Goals: Dale (1), Parker (50), Maguire (80)
Referee: N. Guest