Photo gallery: Evo-Stik Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 0, Chorley 2
- Credit: IAN BURT
Lynn's play-off hopes were dented by two goals in the final 15 minutes from the league leaders.
The Linnets, sitting just one place outside of the top five going into the game, held their own for lengthy periods against table-toppers Chorley. They even enjoyed a spell of relative domination in the first half.
But the Magpies turned the screw when they needed to and found the net twice before the 75th minute. Both strikes were ruled out for offside mind to leave the game looking likely to remain goalless as the fixture wore on. However, that was not the case as substitute Darren Stephenson's strike and Dale Whitham's penalty secured a priceless three points for the visitors.
It was Lynn's first home defeat of 2014 and ended a five-game unbeaten run at The Walks to leave the men in yellow facing an uphill task to reach the end-of-season shoot-out for promotion with other sides around them having plenty of games in hand.
Massiah McDonald was still suspended for the home side, Peter Bore was unavailable and midfielder Jack McGovern decided to leave the club to join Grantham Town overnight because of work and travel commitments. The latter's decision to depart enabled David Bell to make his first start in the non-league game.
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The Lancashire visitors, managed by ex-Premier League duo Garry Flitcroft and Matt Jansen, arrived with a fierce reputation having enjoyed a sensational FA Trophy run this season while climbing to the Evo-Stik Premier Division summit.
But they only beat Gary Setchell's men 1-0 in the reverse fixture, thanks to a debatable penalty, on a day where Lynn were far more defensive in their approach than they usually are. The hosts' boss insisted he would not make the same mistake and planned to set about getting at their fancied opponents.
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However, it was the away outfit who had the first attempt on goal after Chris Almond pounced on Jason Lee's miscued clearance. Luckily, his shot only forced Alex Street into making a routine save. Whitham then had a half-volley partially blocked which helped slow its speed on the way into the Lynn keeper's path. A fine Ryan Clarke header prevented Almond a certain goal at the back post as the Magpies show why they're being tipped for promotion.
After weathering a storm of sorts, Bell raised the noise levels with two expert centres from out wide, the second of which was headed just off target by Rob Duffy. The crosses were good enough to be seen at the professional level that the midfielder used to ply his trade. And his third in as many minutes, with his weaker left foot, also found a Lynn shirt. Duffy spurned his difficult opportunity by lifting over.
It was that man Bell again who created the next opening with a sublime reverse ball which released Jake Jones. The pass deserved a finish and the wideman nearly supplied it, arrowing his shot inches away from the far post.
Whitham hit the target at the other end for a second time but once again it was another rushed effort from the edge of the area while the star of the show, Bell, fired in another beautiful ball which travelled straight through the corridor of uncertainty without getting a touch. A quick breakaway allowed Almond to scuff a drive into Street's arms.
The best chance of the opening 35 minutes fell to Almond as he latched onto a knockdown. From six yards out, he fired home off the underside of the bar, but was adjudged to have been offside.
As Lynn continued to more than hold their own, after Chorley's early spell of pressure, Gary Mills stung the palms of Sam Ashton. The back-to-back promoted Linnets were doing themselves proud again.
Ryan Fryatt followed Dan Quigley's suit and spilled blood for the cause, returning to the action with his head bandaged up. And that was about it for action as a decent opening 45 minutes drew to a close with the scores all square.
It was more of the same when the play resumed with Bell's delicious in-swinger almost finding Mills – but he was just beaten to the ball by Mark Ross. Another cross, this time from the Magpies, wreaked havoc causing Lee to almost head into his own net.
A slick move from the Lancastrians allowed Whitham to burst into the box. However, he blasted over from a narrow angle when he should have squared. As the game settled, Setchell removed Mills and Andy Hall and introduced Charley Sanders and George Thomson just before the hour mark.
But it initially did little to raise the tempo as the chances continued to dry up, thanks largely to some excellent works from the defenders on show like Fryatt, Lee, Keil O'Brien and Jake Cottrell.
One decent cross from Jack Dorney was headed over by a stretching Whitham as the game started to head towards a stalemate. And the likelihood of a 0-0 increased when Adam Roscoe's effort was palmed by Street into the path of Dorney who couldn't miss. It was a shame for him that he had strayed offside.
But with 15 minutes left Stephenson raced through to collect keeper Ashton's huge punt and, despite Street's best efforts to stop him, stroked the rebound home to put the championship challengers in front – much to the delight of the travelling support. It was schoolboy defending.
Setchell's last throw of the dice saw Duffy make way for fellow frontman Sam Mulready. But it didn't pay off as Lynn – who struggled to create anything in the second half as Bell's influence waned - conceded a late penalty.
Sanders upended Whitham, who fell theatrically, and the striker picked himself up to secure his side's triumph.
Lynn (4-2-3-1): Street, R. Clarke, Fryatt, Lee, Yong, Mills (Thomson, 58), Quigley, Bell, Hall (Sanders, 58), Jones, Duffy (Mulready, 81). Subs not used: Frohawk, Stocker. Booked: R. Clarke, Quigley. Goals: None
Chorley (4-3-2-1): Ashton, Walmsley, Jarvis, Ross, O'Brien, Cottrell, Almond (Stephenson, 72), Woolcott, Roscoe, Whitham, Dorney. Subs not used: Vermiglio, Wiles, Zibaka, Grundy. Booked: O'Brien, Whitham. Goals: Stephenson (75), Whitham (pen, 86)
Referee: N. Phillips