Three second half goals ended the Linnets’ hopes of producing a
giant-killing and making the fifth round for the first time in their
A sea of yellow and blue washed over The Walks in Wednesday’s re-arranged
match, but Exeter took the £5,000 prize for winning the tie - equivalent to
a couple of days’ stay in King’s Lynn for the Conference club.
Lynn, for an hour, did the bumper 3,127 crowd proud - it doubled the
best-ever FA Trophy attendance at The Walks and was the best for eight years
since more than 3,600 saw the April 1996 promotion clash with Nuneaton.
Lynn brilliantly held their illustrious former Football League visitors for
most of the game, and thoughts were wandering onto a possible replay.
But the Grecians put on prolific experienced ex-League frontmen Sean Devine
and Steve Flack, and two goals in two minutes killed the tie as Lynn ended
up well beaten in the second half and gave the ball away far too much.
It was always going to be a tough mission. The Walks outfit were meeting a
high-flying Conference side who were taking the tie deadly seriously and who
had travelled up on Tuesday morning.
Not for the part-time Lynn players the luxury of training on Hunstanton
beach in a leisurely build-up to the big match!
As expected, Mark Burrows resumed his place in the heart of the Lynn defence
after injury against his old club.
Lynn played superbly in a tight first half, defended very solidly as a unit
and started positively.
Their attempt to seize the initiative almost paid off when a brilliant ball
over the top from Gary Setchell in the 12th minute found David Staff, who
did not connect properly and shot weakly at keeper James Bittner.
Staff’s golden opportunity, as it turned out was Lynn’s only clear-cut one
of the game.
Staff had two free-kicks which Bittner had to deal with, and with Exeter
using mainly crosses in attack both goals were rarely threatened in the
The loss of midfield dynamo Mark Camm to injury at half-time was a real
Jamie March replaced him on the left, but it was the visitors who stepped up
a gear in the second half.
They put their trump cards on after the hour mark and within seven minutes
scored as City’s superior full-time fitness training told in the remainder
of the game.
With Lynn hastily tracking back on a counter-attack, Gareth Sheldon put away
a 69th minute left-wing cross.
Shortly after a misplaced pass by Paul Raynor led to Devine being put
through on the left of the Lynn box and he finished superbly past Steve
Wilson into the top of the net.
As Lynn tired the game opened up. Staff was not finished and a typical mazy
run on 73 minutes looked to have created an opening with players available,
but he tried to beat one man too many.
The Linnets used all three subs to try and rescue the game, one of these,
Robbie Harris sending a first-time shot well wide.
But two minutes later Devine had an effort tipped over. From the resulting
corner Flack fired from point-blank range and, despite Wilson’s best
attempts, the ball was adjudged to have squirmed over the line.
The fans were unfortunately denied a home goal, as Staff had a volley
blocked by Bittner at the end.
The margin of victory was harsh but the home side got an ovation at the end
from The Walks faithful.
City now meet Ryman Division One North side Arlesey Town, who caused a shock
in Tuesday’s replay by beating Conference boys Dagenham 4-2 to reach the
Linnets: Wilson, Jones, Setchell, Burrows, Fuff, Raynor (Woodrow 79), Defty,
Holmes, Staff, Watkins (Harris 68), Camm (March h-t). Subs not used: Bacon, Nobes.
Grecians: Bittner, Hiley, Jeannin, Cronin, Canham (Flack 62), Ampadu (Taylor
88), Coppinger, Sheldon, Todd, Afful (Devine 62), Moxey. Not used: Rice, Gaia. Booking: Ampadu (foul 21). Goals: Sheldon 69, Devine 71, Flack 85.
Referee: Russell Booth (Sutton-in-Ashfield). Attendance: 3,127