King’s Lynn 2, St Neots 4
King's Lynn's UCL Premier Division title challenge looks to be over after losing an epic today at The Walks against champions-elect St Neots.
Second-placed Lynn are now ten points adrift with five games left to play after a brave second half fightback threatened to tee up an unlikely victory for the ten men.
Town were 2-0 down at the break and a man light when Pat Bexfield was red carded for hauling down Shane Tolley - ex-Linnet Lewis Webb stepping up from the penalty spot after former Aston Villa striker Stefan Moore had nudged the visitors ahead.
Dan Jacob then curled a left-footer past Alex Street within five minutes of the restart but Jack Defty and Jamie Thurlbourne's penalty in two stirring minutes prior to the hour mark momentarily rocked the Saints.
Jacob's second on 80 minutes settled the contest and in all probability sealed the big-spending visitors' league coronation.
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The match was delayed 15 minutes to allow another large 1,455 crowd into The Walks. Town named an unchanged line up from the midweek win over Long Buckby. Defty and Chris Bacon were again parried in attack - Bacon notching after just 52 seconds in midweek to beat Long Buckby.
St Neots included former Premier League duo Stefan Moore and Gavin Strachan with Peterborough loanee Dominic Green in a strong looking line up.
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Defty latched onto Bexfield's hopeful punt but Luke McShane caught under pressure from Town's top scorer in a positive start from the hosts.
Martin McNeil sidefooted a sharp chance wide on the volley at the back post from Jamie Thurlbourne's dipping corner after Bexfield's overlapping run forced the first set piece. Bexfield then had to display his defensive instincts after Ross Watson allowed Stefan Moore to roll him inside the Town box.
Bacon went down to trigger half-hearted appeals from the home fans after Defty won a important flick on.
Jacob then tricked his way past Bexfield but lifted well into the Tennyson Road end 12 minutes into the contest.
Jacob then launched himself at Dallas Moore's drifting cross but Bexfield did enough to force the St Neots wideman to glance wide.
Tolley then released Stefan Moore but Alex Street was out sharply before Bacon lifted a bobbling ball well over eight yards from Steve Spriggs' jinking set up.
Webb advanced from midfield but smacked well over off balance in a sign of the leaders' growing confidence.
St Neots' stopper McShane earned a slice of luck when he raced out to clear his lines but struck Defty - Micky Hyem first to the ricochet to bail out his keeper.
The dangerous Stefan Moore than worked a sliver of space down the channel to lash into Street's side netting on 27 minutes.
The former Aston Villa man's quickly-taken free kick then clipped Watson and spun behind but Kieran Doherty cleared at his near post.
Bacon then lifted over again seconds later after superb first time interplay between Spriggs and Defty freed the frontman eight yards out with only McShane to beat.
It proved a costly miss as Stefan Moore latched onto a hopeful through ball from the next passage of play to calmly over Street to break the deadlock.
McNeil's back host header dropped behind the advancing Lynn midfielders from Jamie Thurlbourne's corner with Lynn probing for an instant riposte.
Bacon latched onto Defty's glancing header but Ian Gayle threw himself in front of the right-foot strike.
Webb was cautioned for a tug back on former colleague Defty wide left - but the skipper's header from Jamie Thurlbourne's free kick struck Will Fordham.
Luke Thurlbourne had to react to foil Webb on the edge of the box but Lynn suffered a double disaster in the closing stages of the half when Bexfield upended Tolley.
Bexfield received a straight red card before Webb coolly sent Street the wrong way from the penalty spot to leave Town with a improbable mountain to climb.
Steet denied Stefan Moore on the restart with a flying leap to parry his looping header. Fordham's back post stab from the resulting corner clipped the base of Street's left-hand post.
Jacob curled a quality third on 50 minutes but Strachan was cautioned in the celebrations after appearing to rub salt in the proverbial wounds having seconds earlier tangled with Watson.
Town made a double substitution with Robbie Harris and Danny White replacing Spriggs and Bacon. Defty's looping header reduced the arrears on 57 minutes after Harris stood an inviting ball up at the back post.
Fordham then incredibly handled Defty's attempted cutback inside the St Neots box to concede a penalty after the big man had controlled Jamie Thurlbourne's raking crossfield pass. Fordham was yellow carded with the home crowd baying for red but Jamie Thurlbourne sent McShane the opposite way from the penalty spot.
Jacob barrelled his way through two tackles but lashed wide from inside the area with Town inevitably leaving gaps at the back. St Neots survived another handball shout on 67 minutes when the ball appeared to rear up at Hyem with the visitors struggling to contain Defty and the energetic Harris.
Street kicked away Lewis Hilliard's cutback at his near post with the home crowd trying to compensate for the numerical difference in personnel.
Street kept Lynn in the contest with a superb save with his legs after Webb raced clear of the Linnets' backline.
Defty crashed through a ruck of bodies to head at McShane on 75 minutes with Town still believing a comeback was possible. Hilliard skied into the Hospital End after Jamie Alsop's header dropped at the substitute's feet.
Harris then cut inside but drilled at Hyem before McNeil's header flew over under intense pressure from Jamie Thurlbourne's corner. Jacob burst through a tiring Linnets' backline to slot underneath Street to give the visitors' some breathing space.
The goalscorer's mocking celebrations in front the of lower Main Stand earned him a caution. The visitors played out the remaining time with few alarms before celebrating with their delighted supporters on the final whistle.
• King's Lynn: Street, Bexfield, Alsop, L Thurlbourne, McNeil, Watson, Spriggs (White 52), Doherty, J Defty, Bacon (Harris 52), J Thurlbourne. Subs (not used): Harris, White, Buhlemann, Fryatt, Hails.
• Bookings: Doherty, Watson
• Sending off: Bexfield
• Goals: Defty (57), Jamie Thurlbourne (59)
• St Neots: McShane, D Moore, Hyem, Webb, Gayle, Forham, Green, Strachan (Kanudu 52), S Moore (Hilliard 60), Tolley, Jacob. Subs (not used): Fuff, Skully, Trebes.
• Bookings: Webb, Strachan, Fordham, Jacob
• Goals: S Moore (30), Webb (43), Jacob (50, 80)
• Referee: S Barry (Northants)
• Attendance: 1,445