Four red cards – but it could have been worse, says King’s Lynn boss Gary Setchell
Gary Setchell admits King's Lynn Town's feisty FA Cup showdown with Harlow Town could have ended with even less than 18 players on the pitch.
Player-assistant Gary Mills' 79th-minute winner settled Saturday's FA Cup second qualifying round clash at The Walks. But it's the fact that the game ended up being nine against nine which will be the abiding memory from a bruising encounter.
The visitors' Jared Small was sent off in the first half for two bookable offences before Mills and team-mate Leon Mettam, as well as Harlow's Syrus Gordon, were sent off for their parts in an ugly melee which involved both benches.
Lynn boss Setchell said: 'It was probably a difficult game for him (Andy Wilson) to referee. Sometimes you've got to look at the way the opposition set up.
'From minute one I think they looked at us and thought we're a youngish team and not very big in stature, ie six footers, and they tried to kick us off the park in all fairness. Before the first yellow card I think they could have probably had two or three.
'I went and saw the referee about it at half-time and said I didn't think he was giving us much protection before the two yellows and red.
'There was one on Mills down here, where he hooked it on and the lad's come through with a high foot. It's a standard yellow card. He said he wanted to try and keep his cards in his pocket – well he didn't do a very good job of that in the second half because there was a 20-man melee and he sent two of my better players off. I'm disappointed with it.
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'Yeah, you shouldn't get involved but when there's a melee what are you meant to do? I don't think there was any punches thrown, just a lot of pushing and shoving.
'If he's going to send people off (for that), he should probably send off 10 or 12 because everyone was at it.
'We stood firm, I felt we were the only team that were going to score until late on in the set when they had a few set pieces, but I think we just about nicked it and deserved the win.'
Southern League Premier Division Lynn's reward for beating their same-level Ryman League Premier Division opponents is a place in today's draw for the penultimate qualifying round – as well as £4,500 in prize money.
Experienced midfielder Mills and frontman Mettam may well be suspended for that clash on October 1.
But Setchell is hopeful that a few players, including Ryan Fryatt and Shaun McWilliams, may well be fit enough in time to be involved in the clash which would see Lynn move to within one more victory of the first round proper if they triumph.