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By GAVIN CANEY, Sports Reporter
Sunday, April 22, 2012
King’s Lynn’s title hopes appear to have all but ended after today’s draw allowed Long Buckby to move one point behind the Linnets while having played a game less.
Jason Turner put Lynn in front in the second half but Tom Mills’ equaliser meant the Linnets drew their final home game of the season to hand Buckby - who thumped Boston Town - a clear advantage with just two games left.
Gary Setchell made three changes from the side that lost 2-1 at closest rivals Long Buckby last weekend. Centre-back Stuart Wall, who injured his back and groin during the game, was replaced by promising youngster Ryan Fryatt.
Right-back Ashley Deeney - who was at fault for Buckby’s opening goal - dropped to the bench, as did left-winger Jamie Thurlbourne. Dan Buhlemann slotted into Lynn’s back four while striker Danny Beaumont started in midfield again, this time on the left.
The visitors, who have lifted themselves off the bottom of the table and clear of the relegation zone since Lynn hammered them 5-0 in December, started pretty brightly but created little thanks to some fine interceptions and tackles from centre-back Ross Watson.
Beaumont had the first decent effort on goal in the eighth minute but his well-hit left-footed shot from the edge of the visitors’ area fizzed just wide.
Red-hot Turner went even closer in the 16th minute but his header was nodded off the line by Ar Tarn’s alert Ryan Morgan.
Despite those attempts, and having much more of the ball, Desborough’s extra man in midfield was making life difficult for the Linnets. Their best joy came from out wide on the right and it was Kieron Davies again who created Setchell’s side’s next chance. However, his viciously-whipped centre was headed wide by an unmarked Turner.
With the game remaining goalless, and disappointment still surrounding Lynn’s defeat at the weekend, frustration began to grow among The Walks’ faithful.
The flat atmosphere seemed to spill onto the pitch with the half petering out into something of a non-event. With Long Buckby 2-0 up at Boston Town at the break, Lynn simply had to do better in the second half to keep their title hopes alive.
Setchell made two changes at the break - suggesting he was not happy with his outfit’s display - as Rob Hughes came on for Danny White while Thurlbourne replaced the ineffectual Beaumont.
Turner lifted the spirits of another large Lynn crowd by flicking Davies’ cross-come shot home in the 50th minute to put Lynn in front. It wasn’t a surprise the red-hot striker opened the scoring, after all he had scored in each of his last seven games prior to today’s clash.
However, what would have certainly shocked Lynn’s supporters was their side’s response to the goal. Instead of kicking on, Setchell’s charges seemed to switch off and Steve Walker’s Desborough spurned three quick opportunities to equalise.
First, Jon Mitchell’s shot was deflected inches wide thanks to Fryatt’s despairing lunge. Then, captain Richard Scott forced a fine save from Alex Street with a well-hit free-kick. And even worse, from the resulting corner, dreadful defending allowed Morgan acres of space but his attempt was headed off his own line by Defty.
Brad Harris forced another decent save from Street as Lynn continued to give the ball away - much to the frustration of their supporters. And when they did string a couple of passes together their efforts went unrewarded, as Hughes’ sidefooted effort struck Elliot Marchant’s upright.
However, Desborough’s display got the reward it deserved when the impressive Mills equalised in the 70th minute. The rangy midfielder’s free-kick struck the Linnets wall but Ar Tarn’s number eight was there to thump the rebound from the edge of the box into the top corner.
Substitute Thurlbourne crashed an outstanding free-kick against the visitors’ crossbar with less than 10 minutes left and in the resulting scramble Desborough survived another scare - this time courtesy of a decent-looking handball shout.
From the resulting corner Buhlemann’s header drew a fine sprawling save out of Marchant.
Lynn kept pressing for a winner and captain Watson went close with a half-volley and Fryatt had an injury-time header clawed away by Marchant.
But that elusive goal never came on an afternoon where the Linnets title hopes, with Buckby hammering Boston Town, appeared to have gone up in smoke.
Glen Cotterill’s rampant side are now just one point behind Lynn with a game in hand against Cogenhoe United on Tuesday night.
• King’s Lynn: Street, Buhlemann, Watson, Fryatt, Yong, Davies, L.Thurlbourne, White (Hughes, 45), Beaumont (J.Thurlbourne, 45), Defty (Harris, 67), Turner
• Subs not used: Hails, Deeney
• Booked: Yong
• Goal: Turner (50)
• Desborough: Marchant, Mills, Morgan (Bartlett, 89), Williams, Grant, Scott, Mitchell (Jones, 78), Mills, Abrahart (Byrne 65), Gatting, Harris
• Booked: Mills
• Goal: Mills (70)
• Referee: I. Wilson
• Attendance: 865