Linnets make Trophy draw thanks to a Bradley belter
Mark Hearle King's Lynn 3, Stafford Rangers 2: A supporter's dream and a manager's nightmare - that was how King's Lynn boss Keith Webb summed up the afternoon's events as his side made it into today's first round FA Trophy draw and a chance to lock horns with the big guns of the Blue Square Conference.
King's Lynn 3, Stafford Rangers 2
A supporter's dream and a manager's nightmare - that was how King's Lynn boss Keith Webb summed up the afternoon's events as his side made it into today's first round FA Trophy draw and a chance to lock horns with the big guns of the Blue Square Conference.
Webb had seen his side take a two-goal lead through Julian Joachim and Simon Weaver, but on the stroke of half-time Stafford's Carl Palmer converted a peach of a goal and substitute Mark Magee completed the comeback after being on the pitch for only five minutes.
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It was left to loanee defender Bradley Thomas to settle things just short of the hour with his first strike for the club.
Afterwards Webb confirmed Stafford's goal just before the break had not altered the tone of his interval talk.
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"I just told them to concentrate and expect a blast from them early doors," said Webb. "They gave me all of the right answers and nodded in agreement with what I had said, and then proceeded to concede within two minutes of the interval. Bradley has then gone and got us a good goal that has eventually settled us down."
Thomas was in the side at the expense of Greg Crane who was dropped to the bench.
"Just lately we have conceded far too many goals," added Webb. "I took the decision to drop Greg and he didn't like that. What I want to see now is what his response is as the ball is now in his court. How he responds will depend upon the kind of player he eventually turns out to be."
Apart from Thomas' inclusion, the only other change to the Linnets' starting line-up defeated at Gateshead in midweek saw Ben Sedgemore replace the injured Joe Francis on the bench. Andrew Fisk returned following suspension and Charlie Defty from injury, but both had to make do with bench spots.
There was no place for Ross Kelly and Webb was still unable to call upon the services of Jack Defty (suspension) and Mark Peters (injury).
The in-form Michael Frew forced Danny Alcock into a flying save inside 60 seconds and Ben Chapman's swirling cross caused confusion between Alcock and his captain Wayne Daniel, as the visiting defence looked distinctly fragile.
The home team got their noses in front after 17 minutes with a well-worked goal. John Turner embarked on a run down the Linnets' right and his clever pull-back presented Joachim with a six-yard finish for his sixth goal of the season.
Bobby Wilson screwed a shot wide for Stafford after his initial free-kick was blocked by Lynn's defensive wall and David McNiven had a shot deflected for a corner, which resulted in Tom Ingram firing over Scott Howie's bar from distance. Joachim then had a snap-shot saved by Alcock following a link-up between Frew and Chapman.
Frew had a hand in the Linnets' second of the afternoon as his flighted ball into Stafford's box found Weaver arriving completely unopposed at the back stick, which left the full-back with a simple finish.
With half-time fast approaching Stafford gave themselves hope as midfielder Palmer smashed a 25-yarder, which beat Howie all ends up. And the visitors' comeback was complete within two minutes of the restart as substitute Magee converted a sharp chance from eight yards as the Linnets were caught cold.
Any thoughts of another collapse by Lynn were dispelled on 55 minutes as Thomas lashed home following Joachim's pass to cap a good afternoon for the defender.
Joachim, who now looks to be returning to his old familiar self, was denied by a last-ditch tackle by Palmer as the Linnets searched for a fourth.
McNiven missed a huge chance to square things up again when, with only Howie to beat, he miscued his shot awfully; the result was an embarrassing miss and Lynn booking a place in the first round proper.
King's Lynn: Howie, Weaver, Chapman, Graham, Thomas, Camm, Turner (Fisk 75), Mitchell, Frew, Joachim, Sedgemore. Unused subs: Bloomfield, Crane, Defty, Murray.
Stafford Rangers: Alcock, Francis, Cullingworth, Ingram (Magee 43), Daniel, Wilson, Palmer, Grocott, McNiven (Proffitt 79), MacPherson, Phillips. Unused subs: Amos, Jones, Allen.
Referee: M C Dexter (Leicester)
To find out who King's Lynn will face in the next round of the FA Trophy, visit edp24.co.uk/sport for news of today's first round draw.