Crane injury only negative for Linnets

Bashley 1, King's Lynn 1: Michael Frew's header seven minutes from time, gave the Linnets a deserved share of the spoils on the opening day of the Southern League season.

Bashley 1, King's Lynn 1

Michael Frew's header seven minutes from time, gave the Linnets a deserved share of the spoils on the opening day of the Southern League season.

Home hotshot Richard Gillespie had given the ambitious newly-promoted hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time.

But Frew's effort was just reward for the way Lynn battled back after being under the cosh for the opening 45 minutes.

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However, it wasn't all positive news for Linnets boss Keith Webb, who saw defensive lynchpin Greg Crane stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious ankle problem and Dean West play on with a slight strain.

“Greg's ankle is like a balloon,” confirmed Webb. “At the moment it is too early to say what the exact problem is, but my initial guess is that he will be out for at least three to four weeks. Dean has a strain and again we will have to wait and see on his situation,” added Webb.

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Webb was without the services of summer defensive signing Ben Chapman, with a calf problem. His place was taken by the adaptable Charlie Defty, whose brother Jack was another absentee with a back injury.

Goalkeeper Scott Howie took his place in goal with new signing Greg Lake on the bench, which allowed Webb to hand full Southern League debuts to John Turner and Jo Francis.

Bashley were quickly into their stride, with Gillespie's early collision with Howie prompting prolonged appeals for a penalty which were waved away by referee Anthony Biddulph.

It took the Linnets almost 25 minutes to muster their first meaningful chance, which resulted in Francis heading Turner's cross over the bar.

Home defender Chris Knowles shot over at the other end before Frew cut inside and unleashed a bobbling shot straight at David Elm's midriff.

Keeler delivered an inviting cross which was missed by both Gillespie and Ryan Moss with the Linnets again forced into some desperate defending. Francis was just inches off target with a curling free-kick a minute before the hosts took the lead. Craig Davis's flag kick was met by Gillespie who had stolen in across Howie for a clever headed finish.

Turner's mazy run ended before he could get a shot away as Lynn began the second spell attacking against the elements. There was then a long delay for Crane's injury which resulted in Lake's introduction and a Linnets rearguard reshuffle with Charlie Defty reverting to centre-back. Frew again shot at Elms and both Gillespie and Matt Parnell went close, the former forcing Howie into a diving stop.

Matt O'Halloran was then introduced for Matt Nolan and almost instantly saw his header from Francis's centre force a block from a home defender.

Davis's cross caused flutters in the visitors defence but Lynn were now seeing much more of the ball and eventually their persistence paid off with Frew replicating Gillespie's opener from O'Halloran's left sided corner.

Afterwards Webb declared himself pleased with his charges' efforts.

“I'm delighted,” he said. “This is not an easy place to come to and many teams will come unstuck. Their two forwards were a real handful and will cause many a problem throughout the season. We are pleased with the point as I felt Bashley played at their best but I know that we can play a lot better. That fills me with a lot of confidence. We have a tough five weeks coming up but this is a start and we now have something to build upon.”

t Bashley: Elm, Gazzard (captain), Ferrett, Castle, Parnell, Knowles, Keeler, Davis, Moss (Tarr 87), Gillespie, Wakefield. Unused subs: Morant, Keeping, Riley, Harper. Bookings: Ferrett, Castle, Keeler.

t King's Lynn: Howie, West, Defty, Warren (captain), Crane (Lake 52), Camm, Frew, Melton, Nolan (O'Halloran 64), Turner, Francis (Bloomfield 74). Unused subs: Fisk, Murray. Bookings: Lake, Francis

t Referee: A Biddulph, Nether Wallop

t Attendance: 298

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