King's Lynn 2, Blyth Spartans 3
Martin Davis For their first-time visit to The Walks of FA Cup heroes Blyth Spartans, the Linnets were looking to field their two most recent signings Gavin Hurren from Mansfield and Friday's edition to the squad Andy Johnson signed after his release from Barnsley.
For their first-time visit to The Walks of FA Cup heroes Blyth Spartans, the Linnets were looking to field their two most recent signings Gavin Hurren from Mansfield and Friday's edition to the squad Andy Johnson signed after his release from Barnsley. They were seeking their first league double having won 4-2 at Croft Park earlier in the season having come back from two goals down. They were also seeking their first home win since November 1 when they defeated Solihull Moors.
Rob Murray continued in goal instead of Scott Howie still troubled with a groin strain. There was an unchanged back four while Hurren came in for Camm in midfield with Johnson taking the number eight shirt. Michael Frew continued to lead the line although Jack Defty was back in contention having served his one-game ban at Farsley last Satruday. Scott Mitchell had recovered enough from his injury to take a place on the bench replacing Simon Weaver who had been released by the club earlier in the week.
Before the game, a minute's silence was held in memory of Jim Thompson, the first chairman of the Alliance Football League, now the Conference, who passed away in midweek.
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On a crisp January afternoon and on a good playing surface, which had recovered well from overnight frost, it was the Northumbrians who opened brightly with Dale going on a good run before being stopped at the expense of a free-kick by Thomas.
The kick was taken by Williams, with Beay going close with the Lynn defence having to concede a corner, followed immediately by a second from which Chapman was able to head clear. Minutes later, Beay played Webster clean through but with the goal at his mercy a woeful finish went high over Murray's crossbar.
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On 12 minutes Thomas found Joachim and the Lynn player forced a good diving save from Spartans keeper Bell. From a free-kick to Blyth taken by Beay, Dale got in a header but Murray had an easy save.
Spartans took the lead on 16 minutes, when from a free-kick awarded against Graham, Beay played the ball in for Dale to give centre-half PELL a heading chance from which he took full advantage.
From a Lynn free-kick taken by Smith, a Blyth defender was forced to head behind for Lynn's first corner, but a poor kick from Frew put the ball into the side-netting. Lynn almost levelled after 20 minutes when a long lob from the left flank from Crane deceived Bell in the visitors' goal, the ball striking a post from which Frew drove over wildly from the rebound.
After 25 minutes a late tackle from Bradley Thomas was penalised by referee Sutton with the Lynn player receiving a yellow card. Thomas was again adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the box and Blyth skipper Gareth Williams' shot forced Murray to bring off a good save.
Blyth's number 11 Beay again had a gilt-edged chance when, having mesmerised the Lynn defence, he was clean through with the goal once again at his mercy, but the Blyth player lifted the ball high over the bar from five yards.
When Lynn won a free-kick, Chapman's ball into the box was easily cleared. Lynn then won a second free-kick when Crane found Frew and the Lynn player was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, with the kick taken by Hurren hitting the wall for Frew to fire over from the rebound.
For Lynn, Joachim had been winning a series of headers but there was never any Lynn player in close enough attendance to take any advantage. Smith for Lynn tried a cross from the left with Hurren moving in from deep to reach the ball, but his header was inches over.
Lynn then won two corners in quick succession, and the second, taken by Hurren, was headed over the bar by Crane. For Blyth, centre forward Dale went on a great run down the left flank, easily beating Graham, and his hard cross from the by-line saw Beay move in on goal but the Blyth man's effort was blocked by a last-ditch effort from Crane.
On the stroke of the half-time interval, Mark WALTON added a second goal for the Spartans as the visitors once again opened up a porous Lynn defence.
The final effort from Lynn saw Joachim head wide as they attempted a belated response. The final action of the half saw Murray dive well to his left to save a free-kick well struck by Spartans skipper Williams. The Northumbrians on this evidence were well worth their two-goal lead as their form belied their lowly league position.
t Half-time: King's Lynn 0, Blyth Spartans 2
Lynn began the half with Jack Defty replacing Andrew Fisk and the attack immediately began to show more promise until Boyle cleared the danger for Blyth.
Crane committed a foul on Williams who took the kick himself but Lynn cleared for Frew to break down the right but put his final ball wide.
Blyth added a third goal when Dale once again easily beat Graham crossing low from the left wing where WALTON had the easy task of side footing the ball past the helpless Murray, this after 53 minutes.
Lynn responded with a second substitution bringing on Mitchell for newcomer Hurren. When Bay was penalised for a foul the kick was taken by Lynn's other debutant Johnson who played the ball into Defty who took a shot which was blocked by Pell, the ball breaking to Frew whose shot was in turn spilled by goalkeeper Bell only for Boyle to complete a clearance.
When Defty was fouled he won a good header from the free kick but once again no-one was up to take advantage.
For Lynn, Smith picked up the ball in midfield and moved forward to shoot but the ball was blocked for Lynn's fourth corner which was taken by Frew, once again the ball was blocked out but the Lynn leader had a second chance to cross and JACK DEFTY rose to head a good goal, this after 62 minutes.
Lynn now made a further substitution with Francis replacing Chapman.
Lynn further reduced the arrears just two minutes later when Jack Defty receiving the ball from midfield looked to shoot but unselfishly played the ball to JOACHIM who moved in to score easily for his seventh goal of the season.
Blyth responded with a substitution of their own, taking off Walton the goal scorer who was replaced by Stuart Banks. At the same time Mitchell for Lynn was cautioned for a foul on Todd.
Next it was Blyth's turn to make a change taking off Webster who was replaced by Wright.
From a long free kick by Crane, Francis lobbed the ball into the middle where Thomas took a low shot bringing a good diving stop from Bell. Blyth were now under pressure with Frew forcing another corner but a poor delivery from Smith averted any danger. A Lynn break down their right flank forced a fifth Lynn corner but Smith's kick was headed clear.
Next to go into referee Sutton's notebook was Francis after he brought down Spartan skipper Williams.
For Lynn, Graham burst forward on the right and found Defty whose shot was blocked. Blyth centre half was finding Defty a rare handful as the big Linnet's sub made his presence felt. In this half little had been seen of the Blyth attack since their third goal though Crane did well to intercept in a rare Spartans attack as they broke with three up.
Francis played a teasing ball across the face of the goal but it drifted just wide of the post.
In a late response for Blyth, Todd was inches wide with a chip after a foul by Crane on Dale. Spartan's free kick expert Williams had a 25-yard effort well saved by Murray.
When Joachim received from Francis his shot was blocked for an apparent corner but to the anger of the crowd referee Sutton decided otherwise. Mitchell for Lynn attempted to find Defty but his flick was just wide. A late effort came from Francis which was easily saved by Bell.
As the game drew to a close things got out of hand with a 17-man brawl in which Crane was sent off for a head butt on Blyth's Pell who was cautioned for the earlier foul.
Joachim deep into stoppage time tried a shot on the turn which was blocked from close range as were two further last ditch efforts before Bell was able to claim the ball and clear the final danger.
In stoppage time Lynn skipper Smith was cautioned for a foul.
Jack Defty has at last lost his record of never having been on the losing Lynn side when he has scored a goal. It was Spartan's first away league win of the season as the Northumbrians continued their climb away from the relegation places.
t Result: King's Lynn 2, Blyth Spartans 3
t Att: 1,041
t Kings Lynn: Murray, Graham, Chapman, Thomas, Crane, Hurren, Fisk, Johnson, Frew, Joachim, Smith (Captain).
Subs: Camm, Mitchell, Jack Defty, Francis and Howie.
t Blyth: Bell, Boyle, Brown, Williams, Pell, Leeson, Todd, Webster, Dale, Walton, Beay.
Subs: White, Banks, Dalton, Wright, Farman.
t Referee Mr M A Sutton, Belpher, Derby.