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26th February '05
League Premier Division
L.Smith, Knight (Harris, 76), M.Thompson, Tomkins, C.Thompson,
Mustoe, Cox, D.Addis, Webb, Wilkinson (Reid, 76).
Subs not used: Burns.
(handball), Mustoe (foul), Webb (persistent
T-Ender Man of the Match: Tom
Webb: all action performance and kept working hard on and off the
A single goal from veteran
forward Darren Hay was enough to take all the points in this match
but City will not feel the same waves of despair after this game
that have threatened to engulf us after some of our away performances
this season. The well contested game was pretty evenly fought but
with better finishing the home side could have thumped us by several
clear goals, yet had we converted one of our first half opportunities
you sense the whole match could have changed entirely.
It seemed few City fans fancied the 200 mile cross country trek
to north-west Norfolk for a few hours in the cold, which was a bit
of a shame as this is one of few chances we get to go somewhere
that looks and feels like a football club. What a great feeling
to walk into a low vaulted claustrophobic bar and not recognise
a single face! After one of the quicker pints I've had it was out
into the perishing cold for another 90 minutes of grim disappointment
and frustration. One of the people who hadn't made it to King's
Lynn seemed to be centre-back Neil Griffiths, believed to be one
of either suspended or struck down by the dreaded lurgy. That left
Burns to reshuffle his rather depleted pack, and with the boss himself
still suffering from his sciatic nerve Marvin Thompson moved into
a central position with Knighter taking left-back role. Lynn quickly
thought they had sensed our weakness as the veteran right-footer
looked a little lost as their winger tore past him, but Lyndon Tomkins
was quickly across to firmly block out the weak winter sunshine
and the route to goal.
King's Lynn were my pre-season title favourites (although
I wisely put my money on City!) and they have plenty of good players
in their ranks. A sharp attack seemed to pivot around the height
and strength of Jack Defty and early on we failed to pick him up
and the player should really have done better with a free header.
Most of the early Lynn attacks seemed to involve lumping the ball
forward, but most of those were easy for Lyndon who was providing
a strong physical deterrent for anyone stupid enough to venture
near the ball. We managed to see off the first ten minutes without
too much incident and the early fire soon went from the home side.
|Top: Norfolk - flat.
Bottom: Addis finds himself out numbered.
With the sizeable but largely mute home crowd already grumbling
the City side began to emerge more into the match. This was a bit
of a mixed blessing as Smith's early touches let him down and twice
he lost possession going forward and we almost got hit on the counter
attack, but a mixture of his own pace and that of Marvin managed
to close down the space. City were starting to stretch the Lynn
defence a little themselves and Jimmy Cox enjoyed a good run through
the centre of the park but was unable to lay the ball wide where
he had options on either side.
Whilst the match was becoming more even we were still
giving Lynn a lot of space in midfield and the home team were passing
the ball with some authority. Fortunately we were defending well
despite the pressure, and the next chance that came saw a reversal
of the normal pattern when Hay flicked on a cross to Defty. Under
pressure from Chris Thompson the Lynn player snatched at his shot
and it trickled harmlessly wide of the post.
With that City really began to perform and enjoyed
a good spell on the attack. The Lynn defence sat deep and both Addis
and Cox were closely marked, meaning both came into midfield searching
for the ball and leaving us a little short of forward runs to look
for. However a good move with Mustoe, Knight and Webb created some
space for Cox down the left but having made the room his cross lacked
any real conviction. A few minutes later a fantastic swinging cross
from Knight caused some panic in the home defence and keeper Steve
Wilson did well to punch the ball off Wilko's head.
Lynn responded with their own attack
and Bloomfield sent over a good cross that looked to have caused
us all sorts of problems but Thommo did well to back pedal and clear
from under the bar at the near post. The sheer energy of our performance
seemed to be causing the home side problems and we were succeeding
in unsettling their passing game. A defensive slip almost let in
Webb when an under hit back pass forced their keeper to rush out.
That came to nothing but a few minutes later we should have gone
ahead. A good move down the right saw Addis get to the ball near
the corner flag and his cross cut back in was met on the edge of
the six yard box by Cox. His clever flick back across the penalty
area found Webb but he was losing his footing and the shot was well
saved by Wilson who pushed the ball just wide of the post. He should
have really been given no chance.
We then survived a bit of a scare in front of our own goal as Chris
Thompson brought the ball out of defence but then got caught in
possession. Mark Angel shimmied his way past Marvin but his low
shot was comfortable for Matt Bath. Another good Lynn move saw Bloomfield
come close to finding Defty in the air, but the cross was snuffed
out by Tomkins. When Webb was kicked up in the air by Lynn's Setchell
in a late tackle it looked as if we just starting to ease our way
into the game and that the home side were running out of ideas.
However, the match turned with one unfortunate slip when Lyndon
came out of defence to cut out a through ball and slipped, reaching
out with his hand to block the ball. We failed to deal with the
cross field ball to the far post and despite the presence of Wilko
and Tomkins we lost out in the air to the towering pale Hammond
and veteran forward Darren Hay turned sharply to rifle the ball
into the roof of the net from close range. Suddenly you realised
there were quite a lot of home fans as the crowd briefly woke up.
We didn't react at all well to going behind and it
took us a good ten minutes to settle backdown. With Tomkins now
wary of picking up another booking he was keeping half a yard off
the attackers and was a good bit less effective. We needed a sharp
bit of defending by Marvin to take the ball off the toe of Jack
Defty as he was poised to shoot, while before we looked to be defending
with some purpose this was now more desperate stuff. Our flustered
defending was typified when skipper Neil Mustoe miscued a front
post clearance and sliced the ball off for another corner.
Left: Lynn's Jack Defty sends another
header goalward. Right: City go close as Thommo is crowded
out at the far post.
Bottom: City's lines prepare to repel another attack as
Wilko loses out.
With bigger gaps at the
back Marvin's pace was more important and he certainly looks much
closer to his best than the rather hapless performances over the
Christmas period. His cover tackling kept Lynn just at bay, but
we were missing the extra presence of Griff. Defty could have again
got on the score sheet as he headed wide from close range and Bloomfield
had won another far post header. We then survived a near disaster
as Lyndon and Matt Bath had a misunderstanding and collided whilst
trying to deal with a through ball, fortunately as the ball ran
behind them Darren Hay was running out of room and could not cut
the ball back across the unguarded goal. Why any of our players
could be in a position to defend with too much confidence is beyond
most, but our next scare came when Lee Smith tried a cheeky back
hell in our own area, and when it went astray Mustoe needed to be
at his sharpest to nick the ball back and clear our lines.
Those near disasters managed to galvanise us into
a few more attacks with Lee Smith finding some space down the right.
When Webb managed to pick up a lose ball and bring it forward his
neat pass found Smith who surged past the full-back and cut inside
before poking the ball towards Addis in the six yard box. The striker
had little room to work in but with the keeper trying to smother
the chance Addis almost lifted the ball over him into the net. With
Mustoe booked for a nothing foul by a fussy referee the officials
were not popular with the City players, and Burns' sciatica seemed
to ease just enough to allow him to run onto the pitch to have a
quick word with nice man with the whistle.
The second half was a lot more open with the ball
flying around merrily without really producing so many opportunities
for City. Smith was an ever present attacking threat for us down
the right wing, but he continually cut inside towards goal and without
any real crosses to feed on neither Addis or Cox had much to feed
on. One of his early runs seemed o leave the Lynn defence petrified
as he sliced through four or five defenders to make the by-line,
but his final ball was steepled high into the air and ended up as
an easy catch at the near post for the keeper.
|Webb gets the
ball wide as City press.
That served as a bit of a warning for the home side
and whilst they continued to enjoy much more of the ball they never
looked at all comfortable or able to settle. At the other end we
were now looking increasingly ragged, but in fairness this was a
predictable side effect as we tried to push ourselves forward in
greater numbers to look for an equaliser. There were certainly now
gaps at the back and only a mix of some great tackling and some
wild finishing by Lynn prevented them extending their lead. Despite
all the excitement though there was a marked lack of noise from
the fans at The Walks, and nothing in the way of singing or chanting.
One particular wild moment saw Angel slash a shot
high and wide from barely six yards out. The chance had shown the
best and worst of our defending. Marvin broke up and attack and
pushed forward, turning well to pass into space where Chris Thompson
promptly misplaced his pass straight to Bloomfield. Fortunately
the final chance went begging, as did another header a few minutes
Whilst Lynn had good opportunities their string of
missed chances always meant that City could get back into the game
with just one moment of fortune and there were certainly times we
went close to nicking a point. Yet another Smith run saw a few more
defenders left trailing on the floor, but again he was as exasperating
as he is brilliant. Having cut past two the final shot screwed well
wide. A few minutes later an exchange of passes with Webb sent him
away again, but this time Smith couldn't find Wilkinson in the centre
of the area with a cross that fell much deeper.
Whilst we counter attacked there were several more
chances for a Lynn side that knew they really needed another goal
to be able to rest comfortably. Suddenly we were left with a big
gap where Smith was caught high up the pitch and with plenty of
space Angel had another effort but this time found Bath on good
form to push the ball wide of the post.
Our best chance of the second half
came after a much stronger run from an otherwise subdued Jimmy Cox.
His run down the left started a good move that saw him find Addis
and he in turn moved the ball into the centre of the area where
he found Wilkinson. The ball was then moved further wide into the
storming run of Lee Smith but his angled effort flew low into the
side netting. We weren't in a position to spurn chances and that
was as close as we got.
With our options running out a double substitution
brought on Adie Harris and Jamie Reid. Knighter dragged himself
off and looked knackered, but Wilko was not over impressed by getting
an early chance to warm himself in his tracksuit. The City youngster
may be given a chance to start next Saturday in place of Mustoe
who is suspended for the Grantham game. However, he does seem to
attract a great deal of physical stick from the opposition. Within
a few minutes he'd been cracked across the face by a trailing arm,
and before the final whistle had also been floored by a late challenge
in the ribs.
If we had spurned as many chances as the home side
you could guarantee our opposition would have grabbed a late equaliser.
Those fairy tale endings are few and far between for City though,
and it wasn't to be here either. A point would have been a very
good result for us, and whilst it would have been harsh on Lynn
we could point to our own good chances to justify a draw. This really
was a game that hinged on the key goal coming at a key time of the
match. There were things for City to be pleased with, not least
the continuing improvement of Marvin Thompson and the general effort
from all the players who never gave up hope of taking something
from the game.
* Despite the defeat we are still in 15th spot and
those vital eight points clear of the drop, but level on points
with both Rugby United and Team Bath. However there is now a four
point gap between us and Hitchin and Grantham above us. With City
playing Grantham at Meadow Park next Saturday we have a chance to
narrow that gap. It looked as if Hemel Hempstead had secured a crucial
home win over Team Bath having held on to an early lead but the
'students' equalised in injury time through Matt Lewis. The other
crucial result saw Banbury United arrest their slump thanks to a
Howard Forinton winner at Tiverton. Dunstable are back in trouble
as their run ended with defeat to Bath City at Twerton Park while
Solihull's worries deepened with a 3-1 defeat to Histon who remain
strongly placed in the play-offs with games in hand. Chippenham
tightened their grip on the title with a thumping 5-0 win over promotion
pretenders Cirencester, new signing Dave Gilroy claiming a hatrick.
|| 15th (=)
||heavy showers &
| by t-towel
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