King's Lynn Town F.C
Hartlepool United F.C
Linnets indebted to former Manchester United keeper
- Credit: Ian Burt
King’s Lynn Town continued their habit of saving their best for the National League big boys - thanks in part to a new goalkeeper who learned his trade at Manchester United.
Lynn, against the odds, led twice but were eventually pegged back, despite the best efforts of Theo Richardson - a goalkeeper who contributed an assist on his debut and made a stupendous last-minute save from sub Gavan Holahan to preserve a point.
Lynn lost on-loan Norwich City goalkeeper Archie Mair to injury on Monday - and with 50-year-old assistant manager Paul Bastock the only member of staff resembling a keeper, the search was on for a replacement, and quickly.
It ended with the one-month loan signing of Richardson – a deal which was only signed, sealed and delivered three hours before kick-off.
Richardson, 22, played for Manchester United Under 18s and Under 23s before leaving for Grantham Town in August 2018 – signed by their then manager Culverhouse - and then joining Cleethorpes, his current club, four months later.
The expectation was that Richardson would be earning his corn against the side second in the table and on five minutes he might well have been picking the ball out of the back of the net, but while the left wing cross from David Ferguson was on a plate for Luke Molyneux, his header was sent wastefully over the bar from six yards.
Richardson’s first save came on 15 minutes, Pool captain Nicky Featherstone curling one in from the edge of the box and the keeper punching it over – and from the corner doing well to claim the ball when crowded out by yellow shirts.
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But then on 17 minutes came a more telling contribution as he played a perfect kick which fell to Mitchell in the left channel. Keeper Ben Killip came out, Mitchell hesitated and it looked like the chance had gone, but the chip that followed was perfect and Lynn were ahead.
It clearly gave Lynn a boost as they enjoyed their first spell of pressure in the visitors’ half.
Gyasi almost benefited, whipping a shot from the far post.
Ferguson almost volleyed level when a corner landed at his feet but the effort drifted wide while Featherstone then dinked an effort high.
Lynn’s defenders were standing up to Hartlepool’s response, putting their heads in where it hurts. Gyasi showed his strength when he came out on top of a meaty 50-50 challenge with Ryan Johnson – although why referee Robert Massey-Ellis thought he needed a word in his ear is anyone’s guess.
Richardson got down well to deny Luke Armstrong after Kyle Callan-McFadden's loose pass was intercepted.
But on 37 minutes Armstrong finally got his toe to a Ferguson cross at the near post and the visitors were level.
At the other end Killip did really well to deny Sonny Carey, who struck a perfect shot from 25 yards.
Carey was in the thick of it when Lynn took the lead for the second time, a minute before the break, when Mitchell played a lovely one-two with Alfie Payne and put in a perfect low ball from the left. Carey caught it, but his shot was well saved, the midfielder then got his foot to the loose ball and although his shot was going wide, Gyasi stabbed it home from close range.
Pool brought on left winger Rhys Oates for the second half and he made an immediate impact, teeing up Jamie Sterry who wastefully fired over.
But his biggest contribution came on 64 minutes when he headed home Featherstone’s corner to level it at 2-2.
It was rough on Lynn, who were now facing the task of going ahead for the third time in the game.
But they managed the game well, defended bravely as Hartlepool laid siege to their goal in the closing stages- and thoroughly deserved their point.
King’s Lynn Town: Richardson, Fleming, Callan-McFadden, Smith, Denton, Richards, Gyasi (Jackson 60), Clunan, Carey, Payne, Mitchell. Subs not used: Gascoigne, Gash, Bastock.
Goal: MItchell 17, Gyasi 44.
Hartlepool: Killip, Ferguson, Liddle, Shelton (Holohan 75), Featherstone, Molyneux (Williams 87), Johnson, White, Sterry, Armstrong, Cooper (Oates 46). Subs not used: Donaldson, Crawford.
Goal: Armstrong 37, Oates 64