Great night for Linnets' manager
King's Lynn 3, Chippenham 1: Lynn boss Tommy Taylor saluted his players after they blew the Southern League, Premier Division title race wide open at The Walks last night.
King's Lynn 3, Chippenham 1
Lynn boss Tommy Taylor saluted his players after they blew the Southern League, Premier Division title race wide open at The Walks last night.
Jack Defty's brace and a towering Grant Cooper header helped demolish second-placed Chippen-ham, inching Lynn to within one point of the Bluebirds.
Taylor's pre-match prediction victory could be the launchpad for a championship charge moved even closer to reality with leaders Salisbury's surprise 3-1 defeat at home to Banbury.
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The Whites now head Chippenham by a slender point, with the Linnets a point further adrift.
"It's all systems go now," said Taylor. "Winning these type of games gives everyone massive belief, players, supporters, everyone. Particularly with Salisbury getting beat - that is five points they've dropped in the last two matches and doubts will start to appear.
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"I said to the Chippenham manager beforehand whoever wins can go on to take the title. He reckoned Salisbury were already out of sight - not for me.
"I'm so proud of the boys. You couldn't ask any more in that first half. We passed it, moved it and made them look average. They couldn't live with us, I thought we we're excellent. If anything we missed the easier chances - it could've been five at the break.
"I knew they would hit us hard after half-time. I was disappointed with the goal, but as soon as the third went in we settled down again."
Stephen Harvey slotted in at left-back after Adam Smith was ruled out with tonsillitis and the Achilles problem suffered in Saturday's 3-1 win at Team Bath.
Cedric Anselin curled a dangerous cross across the face of Chippenham's box inside the opening minute in a confident start for the hosts that set the tone for the remainder of the opening period.
Red hot frontman Matt Nolan dragged his first sighter wide from just outside the area after Sam McMahon's clinical through-ball had split the Bluebirds' rearguard.
Lynn's incessant early pressure was rewarded on eight minutes when Anselin's teasing corner was smuggled home by the unmarked Cooper stationed at the back post.
A coat of paint looked to have denied Cooper again when his flying header from McMahon's free kick cannoned back off the crossbar, but the acrobatic effort was offside.
Steve Perrin's wonder save on 17 minutes denied Nolan his ninth goal in 12 outings. Defty's neat interception teed up Matt O'Halloran to gallop clear before centring for the unmarked striker, whose point-blank volley was miraculously beaten away by the Chippenham stopper.
Cooper was out bravely to block Bluebirds skipper Mark Badman on a rare attacking foray for the visitors inside the opening quarter.
Dead-eye Nolan skied horribly over after rounding the grounded Perrin following further panic in the Chippenham ranks.
The former Cambridge United man more than made amends a minute later, cutely squaring the ball for strike partner Defty to rifle an unstoppable right-footer past the sprawling Perrin from 25 yards.
Defty went close to doubling his tally when he slammed a snapshot against the base of a post on the half-hour mark, before the visitors belatedly sprung into life.
Sam Allison's half-volley rolled wide from the edge of the box, and then Badman tested the redundant Arron Benstead with a long-range strike.
McMahon fired a 25-yard free-kick straight at Perrin after Gary Thorne had upended Defty, before Badman was inches from putting Defty's driven cross through his own net in the closing stages of the half.
From the resulting corner McMahon's instinctive close-range volley smashed against the woodwork yet again.
Darren Wheeler's inswinging free-kick was hacked clear by Dean West on the restart as Chippenham searched for a valuable foothold.
Cooper came to his side's rescue with a goal-line clearance but Lynn were now on the back foot. Ian Herring's drilled effort whistled a yard wide on 57 minutes as Chippenham laid siege to the home goal.
Anselin hammered a right-footer off target after neat interplay with Nolan, but Chippenham continued to press - Allison blazing over with a posse of Linnets defenders charging down his half-volley.
Gary Thorne gave Chippenham a glimmer of hope on 75 minutes, swivelling to tuck away Badman's hanging free kick.
Anselin nearly restored Lynn's advantage, but his angled drive was clutched by Perrin, before Benstead gathered Matt Rawlins volley underneath his crossbar.
Defty made the game safe seconds later, latching on to Shaun Carey's pass to race clear from the halfway line before composing himself to outwit Perrin and last man Thorne to delight the home faithful.
Linnets' boss Taylor stormed out of his technical area to remonstrate with the officials after Nolan appeared to be hauled back as tempers began to flare.
The super striker was withdrawn shortly after to a rousing reception as Taylor sent on experienced Lee Charles for his home debut.
In stoppage time Defty was denied his hat trick when Perrin tipped a close range header over.
King's Lynn: Benstead, West, Harvey, McMahon, Cooper, Camm, Defty, Anselin, Nolan (Charles 88), Carey, O'Halloran. Subs (not used): Heath-Preston, Hammond, Peters, Fell. Goals: Cooper (8), Defty (26, 78).
Chippenham: Perrin, Adams (Charity 83), A Stanley, Thorne, McEntegart, Badman, Allison (N Stanley 88), Herring, Gilroy, Kirk (Rawlins 53), Wheeler. Subs (not used): Harvey, Jefferies. Goal: Thorne (75).
Referee: P McCaul (Hunts)