Southern League Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 1 Merthyr Town 1

Dan Quigley, back, shone in the sunshine for the Linnets. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Dan Quigley, back, shone in the sunshine for the Linnets. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Midfielder Lee Stevenson thought he had won it for the Linnets until Merthyr snatched an injury-time equaliser on a dramatic opening day.

Lynn's top scorer of last season opened his account for 2016/17 in the 85th minute and appeared to have sent his side on their way to victory.

That was until Ryan Fryatt gave away a penalty – and was sent off – in the sixth minute of injury time after desperately hauling down Jon Brown who had got goalside in a crowded penalty box.

Substitute Ryan Prosser made no mistake from the spot to break Linnets hearts as his men snatched what was, in truth, a deserved share of the spoils.

Gary Setchell had recalled big-name hitman Leon Mettam, despite him missing his side's last friendly, while fellow striker John Sands had to make do with a place on the bench after missing a large chuck of pre-season.

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Summer returnee Dan Quigley slotted in at the heart of Lynn's back four with Matty Castellan ruled out because the club failed to receive international clearance in time following his stint playing in USA.

It was Quigley who shone more than any other player in the glorious sunshine during an opening period that offered plenty of endeavour but little end product. The former Long Bucky and AFC Rushden & Diamonds player made at least two pivotal interceptions and won countless headers.

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It took until the 21st minute for either side to have a shot on target with Lynn's Jacek Zielona and Stevenson, as well as the visiting Ashley Evans, failing to get their angles right.

When Alex Street was finally called into action he barely had to move as Merthyr's Keyon Reffell scuffed shot dribbled towards him.

Home midfielder Michael Clunan soon tried his luck after some clever link-up play with Stevenson but his effort failed to lack the excellence of the approach play. The same could be said for the away side's Brown as he also got his drive all wrong.

The closest either team actually came was right on the stroke of half-time when Zielonka capitalised on Gethin Jones' slip and drew a smart save from Glyn Garner.

Quigley's outstanding showing showed no signs of slowing down minutes after the restart when his perfectly-timed tackle stopped full-back Scott Barrow's marauding run in his tracks.

A great challenge from Quigley's centre-back partner Sam Gaughran removed the danger of a two-on-two breakaway as Lynn remained resolute.

The introduction of Sands, in place of Liam Fryatt, saw Toby Hilliard moved out to the right-hand side of midfield with the hosts' arrival joining Mettam at the top of the pitch.

At the other end Kayne McLaggon finally escaped the attentions of Quigley but could only pull his effort just wide. It was comfortably the closest either team had come.

Mettam saw a free-kick spectacularly saved while his strike partner Sands headed wide as Lynn started to build up a head of steam.

That progress was almost taken off its track when Ryan Fryatt conceded possession out wide. But he could breathe a huge sigh of relief when his mistake was not punished with Ian Traylor lifting over Barrow's pull back.

The pressing and searching went one with a sweeping Lynn move resulting in a fine Jordan Yong cross being back-headed goalwards by Sands – who made an immediate impact upon his arrival to press his claims for a starting role at St Neots Town on Tuesday. Garner got down smartly to his right to hold the substitute's effort as Merthyr's defenders struggled with his powerful cameo.

Garner's opposite number Street produced an even better stop when he tipped Brown's drilled effort onto the post with 10 minutes to go. Lynn's keeper was called into action again to thwart another raid, this time pushing Corey Jenkins' attempt behind.

Just as it looked like the deadlock was never going to be broken, Stevenson collected Sands' cross-come-shot and fired home expertly on the turn.

Sands nearly made the game safe but he drilled just wide from the angle while late arrival Dylan Edge tried his luck from distance to no avail.

Yet what had appeared to be heading towards a dream start turned into a nightmare for Ryan Fryatt at the death. He was punished for ball-watching during a frantic scramble in the area and paid the ultimate price when he was red carded for denying Brown a goalscoring opportunity.

Prosser stepped up to compound the right-back woes and deny Lynn a winning start to the term.

Lynn (4-4-2): Street, R Fryatt, Quigley, Gaughran, Yong, L Fryatt (Sands, 55), M Clunan, Stevenson, Zielonka (A Clunan, 89), Hilliard, Mettam (Edge, 87). Subs not used: Mills, Pearson. Goal: Stevenson (85). Red card: R Fryatt

Merthyr (3-4-3): Garner, Baggridge, Jones, Tancock, Davies, Brown (Bowen, 86), Evans, Barrow, Reffell, McLaggon (Prosser, 78), Traylor (Jenkins, 70). Subs not used: McDonald, Scotcher. Booked: Brown. Goal: Prosser (90+5)

Referee: Owen Morris-Sanders

Attendance: 720

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