King's Lynn 3, Stafford Rangers 2

Martin Davis For their third qualifying round Carlsberg Trophy tie, with Stafford Rangers, whom the Linnets were meeting for the first time in the competition, although the teams had met on two previous occasions in the FA Cup, both of which were won by the visitors.

Martin Davis


FOR their third qualifying round Carlsberg Trophy tie, with Stafford Rangers, whom the Linnets were meeting for the first time in the competition, although the teams had met on two previous occasions in the FA Cup, both of which were won by the visitors. The team news saw Keith Webb bring back loan signing from Crawley, Bradley Thomas, who had recovered from his injury received on his debut against Solihull

He came into the starting line-up in place of Greg Crane who was dropped to the bench. Joe Francis had been unable to shake off his injury received in Wednesday's defeat on Tyneside. Jack Defty was still serving his three match ban but Andrew Fisk had completed his ban and took a place on the bench, as did Charlie Defty, who returned in place of Ross Kelly who had also had a bench place on Tyneside.

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On a bitterly cold but fine afternoon, Lynn had an excellent early chance when Michael Frew broke through, having received the ball from Sedgemore, but goalkeeper Danny Alcock made a great fingertip save, tipping the ball over the bar from Frew's fierce drive. The corner proved fruitless.

Frew was then denied again when on another quick break, this time by a narrow offside decision. When Julian Joachim found Chapman, the full-back's cross saw two Rangers' players, including the goalkeeper, collide in mid-air but, fortunately for the visitors, the ball was scrambled clear.

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Stafford forced their first corner, taken by Phillips, and, when the ball was played in, MacPherson lifted his shot over the bar.

With the wind a very difficult feature, early play had been somewhat scrappy until a moment of class from King's Lynn in the 18th minute led to them taking the lead.

Turner intercepted a poor pass, made a fine run down the right wing and crossed hard for JOACHIM to volley home from 12 yards.

Stafford responded with a long ball, seized on by Grocott, who forced Lynn keeper Howie to clear with his feet. Turner and Joachim again combined well in a right-wing move, supplying a cross for Frew under pressure to head inches over.

When Stafford Rangers' Phillips was fouled, the free kick was taken by Wilson, whose powerful shot was blocked and the mid-fielder then drove the rebound just wide of the post.

Rangers continued to press and Phillips found MacPherson whose goal-bound effort was deflected over the bar for a corner from which the same player had a goal attempt blocked by Weaver before the ball went out to Ingram, who shot just wide.

Lynn responded and, from a free kick taken by Chapman, who in turn found Frew, whose cross from the left wing saw Joachim make a flicked attempt from close range, but Alcock went down well to save.

When Turner forced another Lynn corner, which was taken by Frew, Simon Weaver powered his effort high and wide of goal.

Lynn went further ahead in the 42nd minute when, from a free kick taken by Frew, the ball eluded the defenders and Simon WEAVER unmarked at the back post went down on his knees to poke the ball home.

Stafford now had to make a substitution with Ingram being replaced by Magee and, right on the interval, they pulled a goal back when Carl PALMER powered home a 20-yard drive to give Howie no chance.

Rangers forced two further corners in stoppage time but the Lynn defence held steady to take a half time lead.

t Half-time: King's Lynn 2, Stafford Rangers 1

Stafford Rangers drew level two minutes into the second half when substitute MARK McGEE played in from the right was left unmarked in the box to turn and shoot home from 10 yards.

When Lynn forced a corner on the left the ball was played in by Mitchell to Thomas whose header brought a good save from Rangers' keeper Alcock.

When Frew went down after a clash with Cullingworth the ball was then played across to the Lynn left and put into the box where Rangers' centre half miskicked only inches over his own bar.

On 55 minutes Lynn took the lead when the ball was played in a scramble resulting in front of goal with Joachim having a shot blocked, the ball finding its way to THOMAS who forced it over the line from close range for his first goal in Lynn colours.

When McPherson was played in by Palmer he brought a fine save from Howie who tipped his 22-yard drive over the bar.

Phillips put a cross onto the edge of the box which was stopped at the expense of a free kick. The centre forward chipping his effort just over the Lynn bar.

For Lynn Joachim broke through but was stopped in the act of shooting by Wilson with a good block tackle.

Palmer again working hard in midfield for Rangers again won the ball who found McGee who put in McNiven who shot wide when it seemed much easier to score.

For Lynn Turner played the ball in for a Joachim knock down but Mark Camm stretching was unable to keep his drive low enough to beat Alcock.

Play was now going from end to end with Chapman making a good tackle to stop Growcott. Thomas then made three good tackles to save desperate situations for Lynn.

From another free kick for Rangers taken by McPherson, Wilson had a shot deflected for a corner and when the ball was crossed in Phillips could only finish weakly allowing Howie an easy save.

For Lynn twice Joachim was denied on the break by close offside decisions in Rangers' favour. Stafford were fighting hard for the leveller as Lynn brought on Fisk for Turner in an effort to shore up the defence.

Phillips then had a good shot blocked by the impressive Bradley for Lynn. Chapman almost got away on the left when making a good interception from an attempted pass by Francis but Wilson had to make a good run to deny the Lynn full back and clear the danger.

Goalkeeper Alcock left his charge in a desperate attempt as Stafford piled forward for a free kick as time ran out but the Lynn defence held firm to take the Linnets into the first round proper draw to be made on Monday.

t Result: King's Lynn 3, Stafford Rangers 2

t King's Lynn: Howie, Weaver, Chapman, Graham, Thomas, Camm, Turner, Mitchell, Frew, Joachim, Sedgemore (Capt). Subs: Bloomfield, Crane, Fisk, Charlie Defty, Murray.

t Stafford: Alcock, Francis, Cullingworth, Ingram, Daniel, Wilson, Palmer, Grocott, McNiven, MacPherson, Phillips. Subs: Magee, Proffitt, Amos, Jones, Allen.

t Referee: Mr M C Dexter (Leicester)

t Attendance: 749

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