Photo gallery: Friendly: Wisbech Town 1, King’s Lynn Town 1
- Credit: Archant
Bragging rights were shared as fierce rivals Wisbech and Lynn served up a cracker in the sunshine this afternoon.
No quarter was given by either side in a full-blooded encounter which saw the Fenmen take the lead through summer signing Tom James in the first half. But the higher-level Linnets responded well and grabbed a deserved equaliser after the break when poacher supreme Shane Tolley turned home Andy Hall's cut back from close range.
Steve Appleby's men – who will play in the United Counties League Premier Division this term – were without Anthony Reeve, Scott Johnson and Steven Reid but Gary Setchell's champions could also claim to be missing key players.
Richard Bunting, Stuart Wall, Jason Lee, Dan Jacob, Ryan Clarke and Sam Mulready were all ruled out for a variety of reasons as Step Three Lynn, who play two levels above Wisbech, looked to restore some pride after a 4-1 drubbing on their own turf in the reverse fixture last summer.
Just like that day though, it was the men in red who started the better with new target man Steve Harley impressing with some deft link-up play. He saw three sightings of goal early on but was denied once by 'keeper Danny Gay and twice by superb blocks from Phil Gulliver.
As the tackles flew in, the 'friendly' continued to entertain with the visitors' Ross Watson pulling a long-range effort wide and Steve Spriggs following suit with a thunderous effort.
But just as it looked the score would remain goalless, Callum Reed played through the pacy and impressive James – who had been played on-side by Gulliver – and he drove the ball under Gay's body.
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After the re-start the end-to-end action in stifling temperatures showed no signs of cooling down with Spriggs forcing a cracking stop from Wisbech's Tom Roberts.
Chances came and went with livewire James volleying over and scuffing an effort as well as Tolley mis-hitting when well placed. Ex-Wisbech full-back Jordan Yong also went close for the men from The Walks.
The introduction of Tom Barnes added an extra dimension for Setchell's troops as they went in search of an equaliser. And it deservedly came when their pressure finally told as Hall found Tolley and he made no mistake.
The hosts' captain Paul Cousins, who like a host of players – including Reed and Danny White – have played for both sides – headed inches over. Elsewhere, ex-Linnet Chris Bacon went close a couple of times.
But just as it looked like the action was over, Cousins crashed into Barnes with a fair, but hard, tackle, to leave youngster screaming in agony. Thankfully, he hobbled off with some help and Lynn hope his injury isn't too serious.
Former Wisbech boss Setchell, who refused to lay any blame with the man who skippered his old and current team, said: 'Tom's gone over on his knee. Him and Cousi collided, I don't think there was any intent there, it's more the way Tom's landed but that's one of them injuries. He's been unlucky as he's had a good start to pre-season in training and the games he has played so hopefully it won't be too long.'
His replacement, Italian triallist Carlo Coppari, nearly won it at the death for Lynn when he smashed a thunderous left-footed drive goalwards, but the impressive Roberts was equal to it.
Both managers believed the result was fair and were delighted with the work-out the derby gave their respective sides.
Setchell, whose team were playing their second game of pre-season, said: 'We're fit. I think that showed. If I'm being honest, Wisbech definitely had the better of the first half, but we came on really strong in the second-half.
'I didn't want to lose my temper pre-season but I had a few words at half-time about responsibilities and I thought second half we looked like a different team. With the players we had missing, five or six that would be in the first-team squad, it was difficult as I had to keep players out there longer than I ideally would have liked, so it's a real credit to the fitness that we kept going and going for 90 minutes, and we probably did look more likely at the end.'
It was Wisbech's first game of the summer and Appleby was more than pleased with how his charges held their own against Evo-Stik Premier Division Lynn.
'For a training game it was a fair result. Although there was a couple of moments, if it was really important, we could have had a moan about,' he said.
'When we've kicked the ball out, they haven't given it us back, and they've scored and then right at the end there was a stonewall handball penalty shout for me (from a cross).
'I know we want to win, I know Setchell has said it's a training game, but there's local pride at stake. You don't play matches just to get fitness. That's what you do it for, in a certain context, and nothing matters at the end, but you try telling that to the fans and the players.
'King's Lynn tried as much as we did, and it was a cracking game in a hot day.'
Wisbech: Roberts, Spafford, Cousins, Fairweather, Cartwright, Reed (Lunn, 55), Millson, White (Clayton, 80), Gale, James (Friend, 66), Harley (Bacon, 55). Sub not used: Jordan. Goal: James (39)
Lynn: Gay (Street, 46), Butt (Gibson, 80), Gulliver, Fryatt, Yong, Spriggs (Barnes, 56 (Coppari, 88)), Quigley, Watson (Stocker, 69), Thomson, Hall, Tolley. Goal: Tolley (65)
Referee: T. Hancock