Linnets keep heat on rivals
Rugby Town 0, King's Lynn 3: King's Lynn turned back the clock to stay in the Southern League, Premier Division title hunt. For Rugby 2006, read Salisbury, April 2004.
Rugby Town 0, King's Lynn 3
King's Lynn turned back the clock to stay in the Southern League, Premier Division title hunt.
For Rugby 2006, read Salisbury, April 2004. Lynn trekked to Wiltshire as Eastern Division contenders, but returned as champions-in-waiting. The Linnets simply blew away their promotion rivals that day with a second-half three-goal salvo.
Jack Defty struck a brace in a scintillating display and the bustling striker was at it again - his impudent chip over towering Azerbaijan Under-21 stopper Farhad Afandiyev sealing the win after Dean West and Sam McMahon had nudged Lynn ahead.
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Rugby Town are no Salisbury, but Lynn's first victory in the club's history at Butlin Road tells its own story.
Bath City's injury-time winner at Banbury kept the Romans three points clear of a chasing pack now headed by Salisbury and Tommy Taylor's side.
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Logic and three games in hand suggest the title remains Salisbury's to lose, but each fresh point dropped - two more after conceding a late equaliser at home to Mangotsfield - does little to alter the growing belief the Whites are wobbling in the home straight.
Try telling any of Lynn's travelling support the championship race is a foregone conclusion after this latest irresistible display.
“That was one of our best performances,” said Lynn manager Taylor. “The boys have again shown what they can do and I want that from now until the end of the season.
“I expected it would be really hard coming to Rugby, but we kept the ball and passed it for 90 minutes.
“It didn't quite happen for us first half. I think we tried to be too precise with our delivery into the box instead of just trying to hit the right holes. I told the lads at half-time to stay patient because when we got one I knew Rugby would give up. They weren't getting a sight of our goal.
“We started a bit sloppy for 15 minutes after the break and then settled down. It's another great weekend for us with the other results as well. We've moved up a place in the table and let's see if we can kick on again.”
Taylor reserved special words of praise for Defty's sublime finish.
“It was Match of the Day stuff - right off the training ground,” he said. “He gets in my team every time because he offers so many things, whether it's knocking balls up to him in the air or into feet.”
Taylor's unchanged side signalled their intentions inside the opening seconds, with the overlapping West firing in a cross hacked behind by Tim Wooding.
Matt Nolan's right-footer curled a yard wide before a sharp half volley flew over after West and Cedric Anselin had again exposed Rugby down the right - a central theme during the opening period.
Arron Benstead was out bravely to block Valley dangerman David Stone, who had latched on to Wooding's relieving clearance.
West's angled lash struck Chris Tullin, with Afandiyev gone walkabout outside his own box, but the Rugby stopper made amends with a flying acrobatic parry to deny Nolan in stoppage time.
Matt O'Halloran was foiled by Steve Evans' last ditch block on the restart before the blond frontman's scuffed right footer rolled agonisingly beyond the far post after Defty's vision had unlocked the tiring Rugby rearguard.
Lynn continued to pour forward at will, Adam Smith's inviting cross flashed across the six yard box before Ryan Byrne nipped in as Smith prepared to pounce on Nolan's intelligent cut back.
The visitors struck from the resulting corner - West reacting quickest inside the congested six yard box to smash home Defty's near post flick.
Benstead's superb reaction stop from Kevin Slinn's goalbound header preserved Lynn's hard fought lead. Anselin conjured an immediate riposte, unleashing a 30-yarder that shuddered against Rugby's crossbar. Afandiyev then flew to his left to push Nolan's right footer behind as the home side prepared to batten down the hatches.
Lynn were in no mood to tolerate such defiance for long - McMahon steadied himself on the edge of the box to sidefoot a second via the post from Anselin's drilled cross.
Defty's cool finish typified the confidence surging through the visitors, rolling Andy Peaks before advancing a couple of yards to bamboozle Rugby's giant stopper with a nonchalant chip into the empty net.
Rugby: Afandiyev, Tullin, Herbert, Peaks, Wooding, Byrne (Slinn 61), Gordon, Kearns, Beard (Wells 81), Stone, Evans (Thompson 87). Sub (not used): Lovell.
Bookings: Peaks, Kearns.
King's Lynn: Benstead, West, Smith, McMahon, Cooper, Camm, Defty (Hammond 84), Anselin, Nolan, Carey, O'Halloran (Charles 70). Subs (not used): Peters, Harvey, Higgs.
Goals: West (60), McMahon (70), Defty (73)
Referee: G Muge (Luton).