FA Cup second qualifying round: King’s Lynn Town 1 Harlow Town 0

Lynn boss Gary Setchell. Picture: Ian Burt

Lynn boss Gary Setchell. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Player-assistant Gary Mills settled an explosive FA Cup tie which saw four players sent off and an ugly melee involving both benches.

Harlow played for more than an hour with 10 men after Jared Small collected two bookings inside three first-half minutes. But their resistance was finally broken in the 79th minute when Mills headed home his first goal of the season.

He, and two others, still had time to see their afternoons finish early when referee Andy Wilson dished out three more red cards to leave it nine against nine in the closing stages after tempers boiled over.

Mills, team-mate Leon Mettam and the visitors' Syrus Gordon were dismissed for their parts in a brawl – which involved almost all players and officials, including Lynn boss Gary Setchell – that had looked likely to arrive all game.

Yet most importantly so did Lynn's progress to the penultimate qualifying stage of the competition as they hung on to book their place in Monday's draw and pocket £4,500 in prize money.

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Dan Quigley returned from a three-match suspension, at the expense of Dylan Edge, as Lynn added some steel to their engine room. It's a good job they did with Harlow showing a physical streak, which at times would have been more appropriate in an UFC octagon.

Danny Emmington, Lee Stevenson, twice, and Toby Hilliard – who appeared to be flattened by Craig Pope's off-the-ball elbow in front of the dugouts – were all on the receiving end of the visitors' aggressive approach during what was a absorbing opening 45 minutes.

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In a raucous atmosphere, it was the hosts who shaded the opening exchanges with Jacek Zielonka, Stevenson and Hilliard failing to make the most of some promising positions.

The Hawks' first half chance came in the 19th minute when Mario Noto's corner was headed down by Ibrahima Sonko but Alex Read could only flash his flicked effort across the face of goal.

Stevenson was then flattened, fairly, by Alain Moges with Lynn keeper Alex Street returning the compliment by flooring Read after racing out of his area to win a header.

The spicy nature of proceedings hotted up when the idiotic Small left one on Stevenson to pick up a booking and then wiped out Mills 120 seconds later to get his marching orders.

The Linnets immediately upped the ante with Jordan Yong stinging David Hughes' palms from distance while Hilliard slipped inside the box and only managed to scuff a shot at Harlow's keeper.

The away side still posed a threat though with Noto's free-kick flashing just past the upright with Street stranded. Yet they couldn't break the deadlock before the interval, and neither could Setchell's side with a great cross from Yong hitting Zielonka at the back post, with the wideman knowing little about it, and flying into Hughes' midfriff.

Stevenson let fly from distance as the game approached the hour mark but man-mountain Sonko header his drive away from danger. From the resulting corner, Hilliard found space at the back post but could only fire straight at Harlow's shot-stopper.

As the men from Essex continued to drop deeper and deeper they could only offer a threat on the break. Had Read's touch not deserted him, he could have found himself in a one-on-one position with Street. Layne Eadie's searching centre was then back-headed over by Noto as Harlow started to take control.

Yet despite their growing pressure, it was Lynn, not the Hawks, who carved out clearly the best chance of the game with little more than 20 minutes to go.

Emmington's ball into the channel was flicked on by substitute Mettam. Stevenson, through one-on-one, had all the time in the world to produce a finish but dragged his effort wide from inside the box to the dismay of the home faithful.

The jeers soon turned to cheers though when Emmington released Hilliard and his cross was headed home by Mills to spark wild celebrations.

Lynn's goalscorer continued to be the hero when he flicked Kieran Bishop's header over his own bar.

The inevitable flashpoint finally arrived with about five minutes to go when Edge and Sonko squared up. Players and officials from both clubs piled into the melee which eventually ended with Lynn's Mettam and Mills and Harlow's Gordon joining Small for an early bath.

And despite some nervy moments – with Leon Antoine missing a great header and a goal being disallowed for a foul on Street in a crowded box – as Harlow pushed desperately for an equaliser, Lynn held on to book their place in the next round.

Lynn (4-1-4-1): Street, Emmington, Castellan, Gaughran, Yong, Mills, M Clunan, Quigley (Edge, 56), Hilliard (L Fryatt, 90+1), Zielonka (Mettam, 56), Stevenson. Subs not used: Pearson, McQuaid, A Clunan. Booked: Edge. Sent off: Mills, Mettam. Goal: Mills (79)

Harlow (4-4-1-1): Hughes, Pope, Eadie, Moges, Sonko, Gordon, Small, Yiga (Antoine, 88), Read (Bishop, 73), Simms, Noto. Subs not used: Benjamin, Antoine, Wixon, Thompson. Booked: Gordon. Sent off: Small (two bookings), Gordon (straight red).

Referee: Andy Wilson

Attendance: 674

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