Clear-the-air meeting has lifted Linnets - Webb

Paddy Davitt Lynn boss Keith Webb revealed a heart-to-heart with his Southern League Premier Division table-toppers helped get the club's title chase back on track.

Paddy Davitt

King's Lynn 2, Rugby 0

Lynn boss Keith Webb revealed a heart-to-heart with his Southern League Premier Division table-toppers helped get the club's title chase back on track.

Joe Francis and Jack Defty despatched close range headers either side of the interval against 10-man Rugby to maintain Lynn's two-point lead over the chasing pack.

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Webb paid tribute to his men after some timely team-bonding following last week's surprise stoppage time defeat at Hemel Hempstead.

"We had a clear-the-air meeting at training and I got the response I was looking for," said Webb. "When we came back in I sensed a bit of despondency about the place so it was important to get the players to start believing that they can actually do this. I came away from training really lifted.

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"We've got good experience in the dressing room and that is rubbing off. The way they reacted after the goals and at the finish tells me they are enjoying it. I want us to enjoy this journey - not get wrapped up in all the pressure. I've told them we can't affect what others think of us. Just make sure we look after one another."

Webb reserved special praise for Jack Defty after he capped an all-action display with his first goal since November 27.

"I was really pleased for the lad," said Webb. "He missed one just before half-time and you're desperate for the boy to score because he has been working his socks off. He hits the bar twice as well but it was a good goal - great build up, great cross and great header.

"That should be a weight off his mind now and hopefully he can go on and start doing the business. You saw when the other lads ran over to celebrate with him how much they appreciate the work he does."

Webb restored Charlie Defty to central defence alongside Greg Crane in the absence of skipper Mark Warren (hamstring). Craig Fleming made a surprise return on the bench as an unused substitute. Steve Melton switched to right midfield with Michael Frew (thigh) ruled out again.

Lynn old boy and Eastern Division title winner Dave Staff lined up for the visitors.

Former Birmingham frontman Paul Devlin was cautioned early for upending Francis in the opening skirmish of their personal duel.

Scott Howie dropped smartly at his near post to clutch David Stone's angled strike before Jack Defty's towering header cannoned back off Ross Faulds' crossbar.

Jack Defty then turned provider with a cushioned knockdown fired over by the advancing Mark Camm from the edge of the box.

Lynn's powerful target man pounced on Aaron Stringfellow's weak back pass but drilled his right footer into the terraces with Faulds scrambling to get back.

Francis' perfectly timed far post header broke the deadlock on 25 minutes from Melton's teasing cross.

Lynn's goalscorer was then booked as his tit-for-tat battle with the experienced Devlin took a fresh twist in the closing stages of the half.

Jack Defty spurned a gift-wrapped chance to break his barren spell when he sidefooted at the grounded Faulds from point blank range after Bloomfield's near post dart had caused panic inside the Valley area.

Bloomfield's cute spin and deflected strike looped over Faulds' bar on the restart.

Lynn's 17-goal top scorer was inches from diverting Francis' pinpoint centre before Faulds clawed out Jack Defty's header.

Rugby's overworked stopper then went full length to push away Melton's near post flick as Lynn's heavy artillery pounded the Rugby penalty box.

Jack Defty's acrobatic bicycle kick 16 yards out from brother Charlie's flick smacked Faulds' crossbar with Rugby's keeper at full stretch.

Valley midfielder Tom Brewerd was dismissed just shy of the hour mark for his second caution after a two-footed lunge on Francis.

Jack Defty finally notched minutes later - diverting Francis' inviting cross from close range after Lynn had sliced open the visitors down the left.

King's Lynn: Howie, West, Chapman, C Defty, Crane, Camm (Fisk 79), Melton (Turner 61), Sedgemore, J Defty, Bloomfield (Nolan 72), Francis. Subs (not used): Murray, Fleming. Bookings: Francis, Crane Goals: Francis (25), J Defty (65)

Rugby: Faulds, Stringfellow, Morley, Herbert, Gordon, Brewerd, Devlin (Evans 61), Musgrove (Francis 71), Pearson, Stone, Staff (Kolodynski 75). Subs (not used): Edge, Aladetoun. Bookings: Devlin, Musgrove, Brewerd Sending Off: Brewerd

Referee: S Ross (Lincs)

Attendance: 1,025

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