Lynn took only twelve minutes to score their first goal of the season when they travelled to meet Midlands team Ilkeston on Saturday.
It was a golden start for Lynn and ultimately led to two excellent Southern League Division One (North) points.
Last season Lynn’s record away from home was one of the best in the league and this result can be taken as a pointer to what can be achieved this year.
Basically, Lynn’s only change on Saturday from last season was Freddie Easthall for Keith Rudd. Dominic McCallum was substitute and Tony Woolmer was on the sidelines - the two being short of match practice but not risked in this important first fixture.
Team manager Mick Wright said: "When the two are fully fit we will have competition for places, which is always a good thing."
Playing a fluid 4-3-3 formation Lynn looked a confident side. Their strong point is still the defence, built around the commanding Trevor Painter and the fearless Garry Steel, with Smith, Radcliffe and Kerr looking equally cool under pressure. the only goal that got through came from a harsh penalty which says a lot in itself.
In midfield, Wright, Brooks and Bloxham had their share of control and each looked particularly effective stealing up into attacking positions.
Ilkeston’s defence never really got to grips with the varied attacks of Lynn. The breaks from midfield, the quick passing of Easthall and Lindsay or the rush by Clarke . . . perhaps they did not end with enough penalty area penetration, but they always had the home side worried.
Lynn forced three corners in the opening 12 minutes and it was from the third of these that the first goal came. Lindsay’s cross had centre half Mick Robertson in trouble and under pressure from Wright he headed into his own goal.
Even on this, the opening day of the season, the Ilkeston pitch had more wear on it than a bumpy recreation ground and many moves broke down through misdirected passes caused through the ball jumping at the wrong moment.
The only direct shot at either end of the first half came in the 20th minute when Rolfe Browd, lurking on the far post, got a fierce shot which brought a flying save from Steel.
The second half started in spectacular fashion with Ilkeston’s Jamaican forward Winston Raymond going close with an overhead kick from Bates’ low centre.
This signalled some fierce raids by Ilkeston and things looked sticky for Lynn in the 55th minute when Steel carried the ball out of the penalty area when he went up to clear and gave away a free-kick. Lynn pulled all their players back and successfully blocked Stainwright’s stinging drive.
Some of Lynn’s best attacks stemmed from staccato passing moves and when Wright, Lindsay and Easthall put Ilkeston in trouble Bloxham eventually tried a shot which was blocked.
Lynn’s second goal came just on the hour and it was a tremendous effort from Clarke. Receiving the ball on the right he cut inside Atkinson then darted past Robertson to slide a perfect shot past Piggot.
Ilkeston brought on substitute Nakutis - who gave Lynn a difficult time at Lockheed last season - and made positional switches in their forward line. These almost paid off when Bates got into a good position for Raymond’s centre, but he headed against the post.
The game was more open now and shots from Wright and Clarke whistled past Piggot’s goal.
In the 72nd minute Ilkeston were awarded a penalty for hands against Smith, which was noted by a linesman, and Stainwright’s shot beat Steel. Wright’s view of the incident was: "Nigel went up to head the ball away and the ball dropped down and hit his arm. There was nothing intentional about it."
But a goal it was and as much as it shook Lynn it gave Ilkeston more heart. It built up into a nail-biting finish and the Lynn back four were on the receiving end of some hectic pressure by Ilkeston.
Ninety seconds into injury time Nakutis was left clear on the right and his low shot across the goal was cleared inches away from the line by Radcliffe . . . and Lynn had held out.
|Ilkeston: Piggot, Atkinson, Ball, Gaulson, Robertson, Waller, Patrick (sub Nakutis 63), Stainwright, Brown, Raymond, Bates.
Lynn: Steel, Radcliffe, Kerr, Painter, Smith, Wright, Easthall, Brooks, Lindsay, Bloxham, Clarke, (sub McCallum).