Linnets overturn form book to lift pressure off Webb

Paddy Davitt King's Lynn 2, Gateshead 0: In the words of Jimmy Greaves, 'football's a funny old game'. The former England legend built a career as a TVpundit on the well worn sound bite.

Paddy Davitt

King's Lynn 2, Gateshead 0

In the words of Jimmy Greaves, 'football's a funny old game'.

The former England legend built a career as a TVpundit on the well worn sound bite. But even Greavsie's famous catchphrase struggled to cover the drama of Saturday's tussle at The Walks.

In the blue corner, a Gateshead side with genuine title aspirations. Ten games unbeaten in the league, the division's top scorers and a striker in Lee Novak on the verge of a six-figure transfer to League One Huddersfield.

In the yellow corner, a Lynn team careering headlong in the opposite direction. Eleven matches without a league win, no home league victory in three months. Led by a manager painfully aware the fat lady was starting to clear her throat.

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No contest. Away win. No chance. Lynn shredded the form book. Gateshead centre-back Matt Hocking helped the hosts on their way with a glancing second half header that flew past stranded keeper Paul Musselwhite. Then Lynn's loan defender Luke Graham pounced, Greaves-style, inside the area on 84 minutes to spare home fans a nerve-jangling finish.

Less the feared wake. More a joyous party with management, players, fans all savouring the rarest of winning feelings in those final seconds.

“This has been the toughest period of my football career - I'm not going to hide from that fact,” said Lynn boss Keith Webb. “You try to do things for the right reasons and I never questioned my ability to do it.

“We had a meeting before the game where we sat down and ironed a few things out, and the boys produced - simple as that.

“There was pressure on them, a lot of pressure, because if it hadn't gone right then there were plenty of people looking to have a pop. They dealt with it superbly and got the crowd on their side.

“Sometimes as a manager you can only keep saying so many different things and putting a different spin on your team talks but they are an honest bunch of boys.

“You could never question that. Maybe there are three games at most this season when you could say they haven't given me what they could. More often than not they have done.”

Fit-again defender Mark Peters was a dominant presence on his first start since hobbling out of Lynn's Farsley Celtic defeat with a broken leg in October.

Novak cast a frustrated figure as Peters helped plug a porous home defence. Greg Crane might just regret his Blyth rush of blood that little bit longer ahead of his impending four game ban. Webb ensured Crane's penance began a week earlier than Lynn's trip to Soliuhll.

“Given what went on in the last home game I just felt people might have been looking for things here,” said Webb. “All in all it was probably doing him a favour to leave him out. Now he has a four game suspension but the real penalty for Craney is can he get back in?

“I thought Rhino (Novak) made a difference. He was immense. The boy Novak had one real opportunity when he broke and you thought, 'here we go,' but Rhino came across. I think Bradley (Thomas) benefited from having him alongside him with all his experience. We've missed that.

“I looked down the spine of the team and we had that solidity. I thought Jonno (Andy Johnson) is also starting to come good now as well and showing me what I know he's capable of.

“I don't honestly think there was a lot of difference between this performance and Tamworth,” he added. “We had that little bit of luck with the first goal and that lifted the boys. You could visibly see the confidence come back into the team and we produced a good set piece for the second. All of a sudden we look a different outfit.

“Its just having that bit of luck in front of goal because we've matched two teams who will be up there at the end of the season. It's a relief to everybody because it wasn't just three points, it wasn't just a win, everyone knew there was more on this game with the run we've been on.

“I can't think of anyone who had a poor game. We looked assured, we looked, dare I say it, comfortable and you hope this can now be the springboard.”

t King's Lynn: Murray, Graham, Chapman, Peters, Thomas, Camm, Frew, Johnson, Defty, Joachim, Mitchell. Subs not used: Hurren, Smith, Francis, Fisk, Howie. Booking: Mitchell. Goals: Hocking og (56), Graham (84).

t Gateshead: Musselwhite, Baxter, Smith, Gate, Curtis, Hocking (Holloway 60), Harwood (Francis 76), P Turnbull, Armstrong, Novak, Phillips (S Turnbull 60). Subs not used: Brackstone, Norton. Booking: Gate

t Referee: N Guest (Grimsby)

t Attendance: 966