Gary Setchell vindicated as his rested King’s Lynn Town aces inspire the pack during FA Trophy win
- Credit: Tim Smith
Gary Setchell took a midweek gamble that finally paid out four figures on Saturday.
The Linnets boss came in for plenty of flak for making nine changes to his starting line-up ahead of Tuesday night's League Cup clash at home to Lincoln United. And it appeared his roll of the dice had cost him dearly when his troops put in a dire display to slip to a 3-0 home defeat. Yet Lynn's boss knew a considerably bigger financial incentive and prized cup progress was on offer just around the corner in the shape of an FA Trophy second qualifying round clash. A victory over Stourbridge would earn £3,250 in a national, not Northern League, competition which culminates in a final at Wembley.
While everyone knows the odds are stacked against Lynn making a dream appearance at the home of English football, Setchell wanted to improve his chances of taking another step towards a balance-sheet boosting run similar to the one that the club enjoyed a few seasons ago.
The honest manager laid his cards on the table for all to see. Alex Street, Ryan Fryatt, Michael Frew and David Bridges were left out against United and returned to the starting line-up at the weekend while Jordan Yong and George Thomson were involved from the off rather then being sent on at the interval.
Their Lincoln omissions of sorts was a risk that would have blown up in the boss's face if Lynn lost on Saturday – or any of the quartet had not been seen to have benefitted from their rest. But they clearly did, especially Frew and Bridges. Both players' work-rate and endeavour is so impressive that they leave not one ounce of energy on the pitch. And that passion and drive that was stored up throughout the week came bursting out of the blocks against the Glassboys. Frew, playing wide-right, was arguably another ace in Setchell's never-ending box of managerial tricks.
Usually deployed as a hard-working frontman, it looked – when the team sheets were handed out – that he would partner Gregg Smith up top. But with Thomson in such rich form, Frew was told to play in midfield. It was a decision which reaped big rewards with the former Lowestoft Town man having arguably his most productive shift to date.
The blonde bombshell never let Kyle Haynes get a moment's peace and slipped through an expert through-ball for Thomson to produce a delightful chipped finish on the half-hour mark. While Frew was excellent, his midfield counterpart for the fixture, Bridges, was the real star of the show. If there was a blade of grass he didn't cover, you would struggle to find it on The Walks pitch. His desire to regain possession and throw himself into challenges was missing on Tuesday. But when Setchell needed it most, the former Trophy winner with Stevenage more than earned his money's worth.
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It would have been hard for him, more than any, to stomach a return to the West Midlands, after Jordan Fitzpatrick's 38th-minute leveller. Town had produced some excellent free-flowing football with Thomson and Jordan Yong hitting the woodwork. But a replay was in the offing when the clock ticked into the 89th minute. While some coaches would have banked on the safety of another try at reaching the third qualifying round, Lynn's boss looked at the bigger prize – immediate progression.
So that's why he kept urging his troops forward. And not for the first time, Setchell got the reward his risk and bravery deserved. David Bell drove at the heart of the Stourbridge defence, waited for the right moment to release Thomson, and he squared for Smith to do the rest. There was still time for Jake Jones to win a penalty and although keeper Dean Coleman made up for giving it away by saving Thomson's spot-kick, the midfielder-turned-striker slotted into an unguarded net for the 18th time this season.
The final whistle soon went to the delight of all connected with the Linnets, none more so than the man at the helm. He had stuck his neck out by almost forfeiting the League Cup in search of Trophy riches. Thankfully Setchell cashed in with Saturday's triumph more than vindicating his decision four days earlier.