Photo gallery: Evo-Stik Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 0, Nantwich Town 0
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Defender Jason Lee donned the keeper's shirt and saved a penalty as 10-man Lynn picked up a spirited point.
The centre-back became the hosts' number one for 40 minutes after Alex Street was sent off and left the pitch a hero by palming away Aaron Burns' spot-kick. The stand-in made another cracking stop as well to grab the headlines. But he was supported excellently during his shift inbetween the sticks by nine other Linnets who were given a rousing reception at the end of the game following their hard-earned draw.
Gary Setchell was forced into making three changes to the squad that crushed Stafford Rangers 5-1 last time out. Starters Jordan Yong and Dan Quigley, as well as used substitute Massiah McDonald, were all serving one-game suspensions. Youngster Chris Ward slotted in at left-back for his first league start while Jack McGovern dropped into the middle of midfield for his maiden appearance from the off since joining the club from Coalville Town.
But things certainly didn't get any easier for the Linnets before kick-off when striker Rob Duffy had to drop to the bench due to a bout of food poisoning. He sat beside Ewan Clarke and reserve-team duo Shaun Stocker and Tom McLeish as Setchell's options looked more stretched than ever.
The hosts lost the corresponding fixture on the opening day of the season. However, back-to-back promoted Lynn's side has a very different look to it now. That said, they started slowly, and Ryan Clarke was rightly booked for upending Burns on the edge of the box. Max Harrop's free-kick was saved well by Street – who palmed away the rebound too. In the end, the second stop didn't matter though as the visiting Dabbers' players, including Mark Jones who struck the shot, were flagged offside.
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Lynn's centre-back Ryan Fryatt followed his skipper in the book minutes later for a scything challenge on the near touchline. Two of Setchell's back four were on a yellow inside the opening five minutes, which was hardly ideal given the length of time left in the fixture.
The away side looked powerful and purposeful early on but the men in yellow soon started to find their way into the game. A great switch from George Thomson released Marc Goodfellow and his inviting centre would have been buried had someone gambled across the front of the six-yard box. From Jake Jones' resulting cross – which Sam Mulready controlled and laid off – Thomson blazed over from 20 yards out.
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It was Lynn's first sighting of the Nantwich goal and it took a while for another one to come with both sets of players forcing their opponents into mistakes. Possession changed hands at will. And referee Neil Guest's desire to blow his whistle at seemingly every opportunity – including to book Mulready harshly after he appeared to make minimal contact while trying to block a clearance – hardly helped matters.
Twenty minutes passed as a sea of stoppages and a growing air of frustration lingered in the air. Compared to recent games at The Walks, the match lacked the free-flowing sparkle that had dazzled supporters. So it was no surprise that when the 45 minutes were up it was greeted with a smattering of half-hearted boos, mainly directed towards the man in the middle.
Setchell's patience had obviously worn thin with him venting his anger at the ref, albeit relatively calmly. He also made a change with Ewan Clarke replacing Jones. With it came a tactical switch. The arrival went straight up top with Mulready as the Linnets switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2.
It nearly paid immediate dividens with Ryan Clarke's deep cross being headed towards the corner by his brother. Unfortunately, Ewan's first touch was plucked out of the air superbly by Jack Cudworth. At the other end, Steve Foster's header drifted harmlessly wide.
But the Dabbers' next attack caused far more damage as Street was rightly sent off for bringing Burns down. Lee took the jersey and redeemed himself for allowing the ball to sail in behind Lynn's back four by diving to his right to push away the fouled player's spot-kick.
It was a stop any goalie would have been proud of, let alone a makeshift one. And it seemed to reinvigorate the home players and their crowd, whose noise levels immediately lifted. It nearly went through the roof when McGovern's sweet left-footed shot whistled inches wide.
Being a player down didn't seem to be hurting the home team too much. The Dabbers failed to get in behind Lynn. And when the ball did, usually from a cross, Lee was there to mop things up.
As Lynn tired, Lee raced off his line to deny Harrop with his legs. It was a cracking stop. The only question was could the brave home side hang on for the point? It was the least they and the former Daventry player deserved.
And that's what they got thanks to some poor decision making from Nantwich when well placed in the final few minutes.
Lynn (4-2-3-1): Street, R. Clarke, Fryatt, Lee, Ward, Jones (E. Clarke, 46), Thomson, McGovern, Hall, Goodfellow (Duffy, 88), Mulready (McLeish, 69). Subs not used: Stocker. Booked: R. Clarke, Fryatt, Mulready. Sent off: Street (51). Goals: None.
Nantwich (4-4-2): Cudworth, Wilson, White, M. Jones, Frost, A. Jones, Clayton, Davidson, Burns, Foster (Degan, 66), Harrop (Davis, 86). Subs not used: Courtney, Devanny, Gardner. Booked: Harrop. Goals: None. Missed penalty: Burns (52)
Referee: Neil Guest