THERE were 13 heroes on the pitch, and more than 5,000 off it as the Linnets enjoyed their biggest night for more than 40 years on Friday
Lynn gave League One highflyers Oldham a run for their money, but the increased knowhow and pace of the full-time pro’s in the end won through with an early and a late goal.
In Lynn’s first-ever televised game, it was a surreal but memorable sight to see the Sky TV cameras broadcast this game to millions around the globe.
Lynn did have their chances in the game of their lives, and did not disgrace themselves versus a side 90 places above them in the football pyramid, as the town and the football team did themselves proud.
A crowd of 5,444 witnessed Lynn give their ail in the rain, which came down in time for kick-off.
A huge roar greeted the first two Lynn players to come on the pitch just after 7pm, while Grant Cooper seemed to be warming up in a pair of tights.
Oldham controlled the game for the first quarter-hour. Underdogs Lynn fell behind early on, the last thing they wanted, to a scruffy goal.
The dangerous Chris Taylor on ten minutes broke from a home corner and fed former Lynn student Paul Warne, whose cross was half-cleared.
Lynn keeper Shaun Marshall missed Andy Liddell’s floated right-wing centre, and Chris Porter nodded home, with cries of handball waved away by the ref.
Richie Wellens should have made it 2-0 from six yards when chesting down Simon Charlton’s deep ball, but he fired wide of the far post.
Lynn’s first chance fell on the half-hour mark, Jack Defty looping a header over the bar.
Charlie Defty’s great tackle started a move which saw Jack Defty setting up Frew, who shot too early and screwed wide a good opportunity.
Five minutes before half-time Defty senior, with another header, produced a great tip around the post by Latics keeper Les Pogliacomi from Cooper’s cross.
O’Halloran nodded over as The Walks outfit ended the half on top and the crowd sensed hope of an upset.
Lynn still tried to pressure after the break, but the final ball was lacking.
On 59 minutes Gary McDonald tested Marshall from 25 yards as Oldham began the second period with a couple of long-range efforts, but again it was largely Lynn on top.
Marshall redeemed his earlier mistake with a succession of stops. On 62 minutes Neal Eardley’s 30-yard effort was nudged over the bar.
Soon after Porter squared back to Warne, and Marshall saved with his legs. He then denied Eardley two minutes later with a good tip around the post.
Caretaker boss Shaun Carey sent on late subs Matt Nolan and, for his Lynn debut, loan signing Rodney Hicks.
Lynn came back into it, but on 82 minutes the tie seemed settled when Chris Hall headed in from a Liddell corner just after coming on.
But Lynn were not finished yet. One last home attack deep in stoppage time saw their best chance all evening, Alex Notman being put through by Nolan and a great dummy from Frew. Notman had too much time to think about the shot, but was denied by the keeper’s legs.
The fairytale ending it was not to be from the resulting corner, as Cooper was the last home player to feel frustrated with a fine Pogliacomi stop from his header.
The team went off to a rousing reception, with David Bowie’s "Heroes" playing over the PA. Enough said.
Lynn: Marshall, West, C. Defty, Warren, Cooper, Camm, J. Defty (Hicks 78), McMahon, Frew, Notman, O’Halloran (Nolan 68). Subs not used: Crane, Norris, Higgs. Booked: C. Defty 65.
Oldham: No. 1 Pogliacomi, 35 Eardley, 5 Haining, 16 Gregan, 2 Chariton, 22 Liddell (11 Edwards 85), 15 McDonald, 7 Wellens, 18 Taylor, 14 Warne (12 Hall 78), 21 Porter (4 Rocastle 90). Not used:25 Smith, 19 Tierney.
Goals: Porter 10, Hall 82.
Att: 5,444. Referee: M. Thorpe (Suffolk).
Stats, Lynn first: shots on target 3 (Cooper, J. Defty, Notman), 8; off target 5 (J. Defty, Frew, Notman, O’Halloran 2), 6; corners 8, 7; offside 3, 2; free-kicks conceded 15, 20.