Showdown day looms for Linnets
Tiverton Town 1, King's Lynn 2: It is said that the sign of a good title-winning side is to play badly and still come away with three points. King's Lynn demonstrated that element of their title potential at Tiverton on Saturday, as they extended their run to six successive wins and 10 league games unbeaten to go second in the Southern League Premier Division.
Tiverton Town 1, King's Lynn 2
It is said that the sign of a good title-winning side is to play badly and still come away with three points.
King's Lynn demonstrated that element of their title potential at Tiverton on Saturday, as they extended their run to six successive wins and 10 league games unbeaten to go second in the Southern League Premier Division.
With Chippenham only managing a draw at struggling Cheshunt, and Salisbury losing to play-off hopefuls Bedford, everything seems to be shaping up for a final day showdown with leaders Bath City.
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The Linnets weren't quite as destructive as the side that had so comfortably despatched Rugby a week ago, but two chances falling to Matt Nolan were enough as he clinically took his ninth and 10th goals of the season.
Before Nolan opened the scoring in the ninth minute, however, Tiverton wasted a gilt-edged chance to take the lead.
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Chris Holloway was fed down the left wing by Darren Davies but full-back Mike Booth, unmarked in the box, could only glance a header wide.
From the ensuing goal-kick, Adam Smith cut out wide on the left and played the perfect defence-splitting through ball to Nolan, who lashed the ball home from 15 yards out.
It's not an exaggeration to say that they were the only two chances of a drab first 45 minutes where neither side seemed to get out of midfield.
Just as in the first period, Lynn got on the scoresheet early in the second, as intricate work by Dean West and Sam McMahon created a carbon-copy chance for Nolan who this time placed the ball into the corner.
From then on it was one-way traffic towards the King's Lynn goal. Booth wasted his second clear-cut chance shortly after Lynn's second, blazing wildly over on the volley from a Davies cross.
Two minutes later, centre-half Tom Gould - whose job it should have been to mark Nolan for the two goals - headed a corner over having evaded his own marker.
The most galling missed chances were still to come for the hosts, however.
Sam Croft saw has powerful header stopped on the goal-line by one of his team-mates, and when the did finally get the ball in the back of the net on 64 minutes - it was disallowed for offside as Chris Bale greedily stabbed home a ball that was already going in anyway.
As Tiverton pushed forward some gaps began to open up at the back, and Jack Defty came close to making it 3-0 with the softest of chips, but it was just wide.
With five minutes remaining, Nolan nearly had a hat-trick, rounding the hapless Gould and rolling the ball against the inside of the post, along the goal-line, but out for a goal kick.
The Tiverton pressure increased, and they got their reward in the 86th minute as Benstead spilled a cross and Holloway tucked home.
An equaliser wasn't forthcoming, however, despite the efforts of goalkeeper Mark Ovendale coming forward for a corner.
Lynn manager Tommy Taylor was just happy to come away with the win. He said: “The first half I was quite pleased with, but in the second I thought we sat a bit deep and invited them onto us. The last 10 minutes of the game we were really deep and they just chucked everything at us.
“They played a five and were really tight in midfield, with Kwame Ampadu really sat deep. We didn't really get the ball out wide enough quick enough to let Westy and Smithy put quality crosses in. I thought the pitch would've played a lot better than it did, because it looked a nice pitch, but at the end of the day it was bobbling everywhere.
“We opened them up when we had to open them up. Matty (Nolan) took two good chances and should have scored his hat-trick, but he didn't, but the three points was the most important thing.”
t Tiverton Town: Ovendale, Booth (Hambly), Davies, Gould, Croft (Beddow), Milsom, Ampadu, Bale, McConnell, Holloway, Mudge. Subs (not used): Nogan, Skinner, Kelly. Bookings: Gould (14), Holloway (27), Croft (45). Goal: Holloway (86).
t King's Lynn: Benstead, West, Smith, McMahon, Cooper, Camm, Defty (Hammond 84), Anselin, Nolan, Carey, O'Halloran (Charles 64). Subs (not used): Peters, Harvey, Higgs. Booking: Cooper (80). Goals: Nolan 2 (9, 51).
t Referee: P Grenfell (Penzance)
t Attendance: 351