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King's Lynn 0 Hitchin Town 0
1st March 2008
IN just the space of four days the Linnets went from sensational to sloppy, much to the frustration of The Walks' faithful.
But at the end of a forgettable 90 minutes the doom and gloom was lifted by the news that both Team Bath and Halesowen – Lynn's nearest rivals for the league crown – had both succumbed to last-minute home defeats, while Chippenham could only draw.
Incredibly, this point ensured that the Linnets returned to the top of the table after one of their worst performances of what is turning out to be another roller-coaster season.
Linnets boss Keith Webb was left stunned by another dramatic afternoon in the race for the title.
Webb said: "There are going to be a lot of days like this between now and the end of the season.
"You came off the field expecting to hear that both Team Bath and Halesowen had won and then you hear completely the opposite.
"If you'd looked at the three games involving the teams at the top beforehand then you would have expected wins from all of them.
"So instead of feeling that we've let it slip, we've ended up getting a big fillip, but that's football."
Webb added: "If we'd started the game how we finished it then I think Hitchin would have been dead and buried.
"Our decision making in key areas wasn't the best.
"Both Lee (Glover) and myself warned the players before the game about complacency and that we just have to take care of ourselves, but we didn't do that against Hitchin.
"I don't think the pressure or expectation got to the players. If that had been the case then I think we would have seen it at Team Bath.
"Better managers with better teams have the same problem after a hard midweek match."
Struggling Hitchin refused to let Lynn settle and showed that their recent wins against Bashley, Yate and Rugby Town were no fluke.
The Canaries, managed by former Linnet Darran Hay, were the better side for long periods of the game until Lynn finally got their act together in the closing stages of the contest.
Midway through the first half, Mark Barnes linked up with his brother Paul, who volleyed wide.
Lynn's best effort of the half had arrived a few minutes earlier when Ben Sedgemore played in Danny Bloomfield, who was foiled by the legs of Hitchin goalkeeper Martin Bennett.
The visitors had another golden opportunity to take the lead at the start of the second period with Linnets goalkeeper Scott Howie pulling off a double save of the highest quality, although his second stop to deny Mark Barnes saw the Hitchin frontman offside.
Lynn, roared on by another healthy four-figure crowd, began to show some urgency as the game reached its climax.
Joe Francis, who had an afternoon to forget after his heroics of a few days earlier, saw his effort on target stopped by the body of Bennett.
In the closing stages substitute Matt Nolan provided a cross for Jack Defty, but his looping header was plucked out of the air by Bennett.
The biggest compliment paid to Hitchin was at the final whistle as the home fans expressed their disappointment that title-chasing Lynn could not beat a team that has struggled all season.
But Canaries manager Darran Hay admitted: "We've a different team now."
Lynn: Howie, Bains, Chapman, Hoyte, Crane, Camm, Turner (Nolan 86), Sedgemore (Fisk 32), Defty, Bloomfield (Frew 69), Francis. Subs not used: Murray, West. Booking: Defty.
Hitchin: Bennett, Deeney, Pepper (Barr 74), Williams, Stevenson, Smith, Lewis (Kenneford 90), Gregson, P. Barnes, M. Barnes (Olaleye 81), Ducket. Subs not used: Hay, Harusha.
Referee: A. Maton (Leics). Attendance: 1,223. MoM: Scott Howie.
Report by permission of the Lynn News