Play-off despair for Linnets
King's Lynn 0, Maidenhead 1: Maidenhead's Mark Nisbet returned to haunt Lynn in their Southern League, Premier Division sudden death play-off semi final at The Walks.
King's Lynn 0, Maidenhead 1
Maidenhead's Mark Nisbet returned to haunt Lynn in their Southern League, Premier Division sudden death play-off semi final at The Walks.
Nisbet's 74th minute rocket strike killed Lynn's Conference dreams for another season in front of the Linnets' long suffering fans.
Maidenhead's attacking full-back wrecked Keith Webb's managerial debut in December's corresponding league fixture and the defender's late encore booked the Magpies a weekend trip to Team Bath.
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The Students' took care of business with a comprehensive 3-1 win over Hemel Hempstead in the other semi-final.
Lynn failed to breach the Magpies' well organised rearguard in a one sided opening period but Maidenhead were full value after the break - the hosts paying a heavy price for a lacklustre display on the resumption.
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Experienced midfielder Steve Melton (leg) failed a late fitness test for the home side.
Webb restored his main men after resting half a dozen for Saturday's dead rubber against Wealdstone. Former Scotland U21 keeper Scott Howie returned at the expense of Shaun Marshall.
Skipper Mark Warren added his muscular presence in central defence alongside Greg Crane. Andrew Fisk got the nod in Melton's absence to partner midfield dynamo Mark Camm, with Michael Frew offering raw power and pace down the right.
Jack Defty shook off a slight groin strain to spearhead Lynn's frontline alongside top scorer Matt Nolan.
Goal poacher Danny Bloomfield, plus midfield duo Charlie Defty and Jamie Gould slipped to the substitutes' bench.
Front running teenager Mark Heath-Preston was the unfortunate man omitted from Webb's final squad after earning plaudits for his industrious display against Wealdstone.
Magpies' centre back Grant Cooper earned a predictably hostile reception before kick-off on his first return since a mid-season departure from The Walks.
Dominic Sterling out muscled Defty in the opening exchanges before Lee Newman over-hit his pass in a nervy start for the visitors.
Nolan's straining point-blank header flew over after Warren climbed highest to power O'Halloran's corner goalwards.
The all-action Sterling incurred referee Mason's wrath for upending Norwich loan recruit Fisk - Defty glancing Crane's set piece straight at Chico Ramos.
Fisk was in the wars again seconds later when Dwaine Lee was fortunate to escape a caution for a crude scissors tackle.
Lynn pressed forward, with Dean West's adventurous burst just failing to tee up O'Halloran in a nerveless high tempo start for Webb's men.
Ramos raced from his line to clear ahead of the marauding Frew. Defty poleaxed Sterling after the Magpies centre back bravely threw his head in front of the big attacker.
Lee threatened the parked cars behind the Hospital End with Maidenhead's first shot in anger. Ramos clutched O'Halloran's looping header under his bar from West's miscued cross before the blond flyer was clearly tugged inside the box by man marker Nisbet -referee Mason unimpressed.
Nisbet bailed out keeper Ramos with a timely far post header from Frew's delicious centre - Fisk's follow up charged down from the corner.
Frew's one-man wrecking mission continued with Ramos and Behzadi at full stretch to smuggle his scuffed close range effort behind.
Villain of the piece Cooper earned a stern lecture from referee Mason on the half hour mark for persistent back chat - much to the sizeable home crowd's delight.
Cooper's abrasive shove from behind on O'Halloran bought Lynn a threatening free kick - Blois' curler flying narrowly wide.
Ramos flung himself to his right to beat away O'Halloran's half volley before diving bravely at the wideman's feet to smother seconds later.
Frew cheekily tested Ramos from fully 60 yards after Crane had relieved the pressure from Maidenhead's third consecutive corner in quick succession.
O'Halloran's barnstorming burst triggered Lynn's best move of the half in the dying embers - Nolan's first time spot picking out Defty who drilled his angled drive into the side netting.
Warren rose imperiously at the back stick only to head straight at Ramos from O'Halloran's deep corner in stoppage time.
Ramos won the foot race with Nolan on the restart before Lynn's top gun was cautioned for a hack on Darti Brown.
Fisk's miscued cross dropped comfortably to Ramos as the hosts attempted to match their energetic start.
Howie went full length to claw away Brown's piledriver from the edge of the box in his first meaningful involvement of the tense semi.
Sterling outsmarted Nolan after the Linnets' hitman fashioned a yard of space in the congested Maidenhead box before Newman slammed Howie's side netting on a rapier counter.
Cooper hacked Blois' free kick clear inside his own six yard box but Fisk needed to dispossess Brown as the frenetic action switched to the opposite penalty area.
Nolan's close range screamer hit the stricken Ashley Smith, with Lynn's vociferous home support appealing for a spot kick after Crane's galloping break pushed the Magpies onto the back foot.
Howie's sprawling stop denied Neville Roach after the bustling striker pounced on Brown's cute reverse pass.
Lynn's stopper clutched Stephen Hughes' tame header as Maidenhead menacingly started to dictate proceedings.
Camm's desperate near post header loosened the stranglehold before Webb withdrew Defty for recent Bedford arrival Gould - Frew pressed into a more advanced role.
Maidenhead's incessant pressure finally told on 74 minutes - Nisbet wriggling free to crash an unstoppable shot past Howie from 16 yards before racing away to celebrate with the small pocket of visiting fans.
Bloomfield replaced West as Lynn looked to salvage their fading promotion dream.
O'Halloran's weak sidefooter dribbled through to Ramos after Frew had latched onto Nolan's slide rule pass in a sporadic raid on the visiting goal.
Warren's muscular presence upset Ramos from O'Halloran's corner but Hughes was able to hack clear as Lynn went for broke.
Crane's point-blank header flew over before Nolan dragged horribly wide with only Ramos to beat as Maidenhead reeled under the late onslaught.
Howie's brilliant reaction stop foiled Roach in stoppage time with Lynn hopelessly outnumbered at the back.
The visiting dug out erupted on the final whistle in a scene all too familiar to King's Lynn's faithful after Chippenham's semi-final win 12 months previous.