Southern League Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 2 Biggleswade Town 1
- Credit: Ian Burt
Gary Setchell threw his youngsters in at the deep end and watched proudly as they sunk the Waders with some help from an old head, writes Gavin Caney.
The Linnets – missing five key players including three defenders – fielded arguably their youngest side since reformation in 2010 with eight of the starting XI being aged 22 or under. And despite their lack of Step Three non-league game time, Lynn did more than just tread water to earn a well-deserved win against their opponents from Bedfordshire.
A back four containing Simon Bird, 22, Matty Castellan 20, makeshift left back Liam Fryatt, 19, and the more experienced Ryan Fryatt, still only 22, did not look out of their depth. The younger Fryatt in particular was sensational in the first half – while his older brother was a towering presence at centre-half – but he wasn't alone in ensuring that the future looks bright at The Walks.
While the hosts went behind to Sam Merson's 17th-minute opener they grew in stature and found the equaliser their play warranted through Lee Stevenson in a move that, while finished off by, at 31, something of a veteran, owed much to youth.
Bird, Liam Fryatt, loanee Jack Friend, 18, and Toby Hilliard, 19, were involved before Stevenson slotted home the loose ball. And long before they added a last-gasp winner, there were far more positives as Lynn's patched-up side continued to impress.
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Friend saw a deflected shot well saved by Ian Brown and Lee Smith would have netted in the final quarter had he sorted his feet out. But that didn't seem to matter as the young men in blue and gold drew plaudits for maintaining their concentration levels long after their legs had gone.
The Walks' crowd watched their fledglings visibly tire but remain resolute with only a Merson header forcing home keeper Alex Street into an excellent fingertip stop after the break. The save redeemed the shot-stopper, himself seemingly struggling with an injury, after he had been beaten at his near post for the game's opener.
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Right at the death the feel-good factor reached untold heights when the daddy of the team got his kids across the line.
Substitute Dylan Edge, himself just 17, collected the ball in a crowded final third and spread the play to a man who is almost twice his senior. Thankfully, Stevenson showed all the grace of a teenager as he cut inside and bent a delicious left-footed curler into the bottom corner to spark a bundle of fresh-faced joy.
It capped a great evening for 'Stevo' after his beloved Sheffield Wednesday stunned Arsenal in the Capital One Cup. Yet the biggest smile belonged to Setchell who looked in deep trouble before the game but came up for air at the final whistle with three points in the bag.
Lynn: Street, Bird, Castellan, R Fryatt, L Fryatt, Clunan, Smith, Hurst (Edge, 84), Stevenson, Friend (Zielonka, 80), T Hilliard (Mulready, 66). Sub not used: Pearson.
Waders: Brown, York, Coulson, Lewis, Hoyte, Iwediuno, L Hilliard (Daniel, 80), Reece (Effiong, 53), Marsh, Merson, King. Subs not used: Frater, Reynolds, Allinson.