Linnets back on course

King's Lynn 2, Rugby 1: Linnets' boss Keith Webb praised the bulldog spirit that typified King's Lynn's New Year's Day revival.

King's Lynn 2, Rugby 1: Linnets' boss Keith Webb praised the bulldog spirit that typified King's Lynn's New Year's Day revival.

Matt O'Halloran's double salvo clinched a first win in six and ended the club's Southern League, Premier Division goal drought stretching back to December 9.

Shaun Marshall's late Christmas gift handed Rugby a second half lifeline after O'Halloran had broken the deadlock just after the break.

O'Halloran fashioned the perfect response to nudge Lynn back in front before the footballing gods finally shone on the hosts after a wretched December.

First Jason Taylor's goalbound effort slammed Marshall's upright and rebounded into the keeper's grasp before Craig Herbert's stoppage time goal was chalked off for an apparent push during the build up.

“That could turn our season,” said Webb. “Even in my short period here we've had situations like those where they've gone against us. Matty Nolan hit the crossbar at Wealdstone so in that sense maybe the luck has turned. I thought their goal had been disallowed for a foul on our keeper - sometimes those decisions go for you and sometimes they don't.

Most Read

“I'm delighted to get the first win out of the way. I thought the boys worked their socks off and hopefully that has given them a shot in the arm. I said I'd take any goal and any win. Now we've got them we can look to move forward.

“They showed character because it would've been easy to feel the world is against us after the goal we conceded. Unfortunately when keepers make mistakes it usually ends up being costly. You could see the energy drain from us but, to be fair, we went again.”

Sam McMahon was the latest victim of Lynn's hamstring curse - limping off barely 12 minutes into the action after only making his festive comeback from the same injury in Saturday's Wealdstone washout.

Striker Michael Frew was rested again with a similar problem while Greg Crane replaced Grant Cooper after the cultured defender failed to shake off his hamstring stain.

“Sam could be out for six weeks,” said Webb. “It looked a bad one at the time and he felt the same. Frewy was another precautionary one but hopefully Coops will be back in the next game or two. Mark Warren's suspension kicks in after this weekend so we need him.

“We had three or four playing with flu as well but I couldn't fault them. It was the first time I've seen Steve Melton and he impressed me. The front lads were nice and bright and Matty deserved his goals. His touch let him down when he was clean through in the first half but he looked very lively.

“I wanted them to stay positive but when you are on a losing run that's difficult. Consciously you want to play safe which caused us a few problems late on instead of trying to keep the ball in certain areas of the pitch.”

Webb made one tactical switch from the weekend with Norwich loan recruit Andrew Cave-Brown replacing experienced right back Dean West. Carrow Road colleague Andrew Fisk settled for a watching brief from the outset alongside Jack Defty.

Matt Nolan skied an early sighter after O'Halloran escaped from the back pedalling Valley midfield.

Lynn's blond wide man then headed tamely at ex-Azerbaijan U21 keeper Farhad Afandiyev after Warren's aerial power unsettled the visiting defence.

The impish O'Halloran raced the full length before checking inside and testing Afandiyev from distance.

McMahon hobbled off clutching the back of his left thigh after springing O'Halloran to be replaced by Melton.

Afandiyev's fingertip save foiled Frazer Toms from point blank range but Rugby caught the hosts napping when Danny Hall's quickly taken free kick set up Taylor who dragged wide of Marshall's far post from 18 yards.

Hall smothered Alex Notman's swivelling effort after Nolan and Cave-Brown combined to break the midfield stalemate.

Andy Commander's last ditch header cut out Notman's probing lob before the muscular defender was cautioned for a wild hack on Nolan.

David Stone's swinger failed to trouble the redundant Marshall as Rugby showed a glimpse of ambition in the closing stages of a stodgy first half.

Lynn's recent frustrations were summed up when O'Halloran raced clear in stoppage time only for a horrid first touch to bail out the exposed Afandiyev.

The big stopper flapped at Cave-Brown's deep centre seconds later then redeemed himself with a decisive punch from O'Halloran's corner before Crane planted a back post header wide.

O'Halloran lashed into the roof of the net on 47 minutes to dispel the festive gloom after Lewis Blois's quick thinking freed Nolan to turn his marker before drilling across the six yard box.

Herbert's wonder block kept Rugby in the contest - deflecting Notman's goalbound sidefooter over with Afandiyev beaten.

Crane's snapshot was smuggled away before Nolan was inches from connecting with Toms's centre as a resurgent Lynn piled forward.

Rugby drew level in bizarre fashion on 56 minutes when Chris Tullin's deep hanging cross nestled in Marshall's top corner - the defender's almost apologetic celebrations compounding Marshall's embarrassment.

O'Halloran latched onto Notman's reverse pass to restore Lynn's advantage just past the hour mark when he burst into the box to rifle underneath Afandiyev.

Notman's piledriver struck Herbert before the striker made way for Defty. Marshall went full length to beat away Hall's speculative effort with Rugby probing for an instant riposte. Lynn's keeper then dropped gratefully on Taylor's scuffed shot after it cannoned back off his post.

Lynn survived a stoppage time scare when Herbert's 'goal' was ruled out after the skipper was adjudged to have shoved Warren before climbing highest to meet Delroy Gordon's free kick.

King's Lynn: Marshall, Cave-Brown (West 75), Blois, Warren, Crane, Camm, O'Halloran, McMahon (Melton 12), Nolan, Notman (Defty 67), Toms. Subs (not used): Fisk, Higgs.

Goals: O'Halloran (47, 63)

Rugby: Afandiyev, Tullin, Commander (Harris 67), Herbert, Gordon, Hall (Wells 84), Gearing, Francis, Taylor, Stone, Stringfellow. Sub (not used): Hackett.

Booking: Commander

Goal: Tullin (56)

Attendance: 785

Referee: P McCaul (Hunts)