King's Lynn 2 Fisher Athletic 2
28th February 2004
JOINT Linnets managers Darren Bloodworth and Kevin Boon emerged from the changing room relieved to see their side still at the top of the table after Fisher gave The Walks outfit the fright of their lives on Saturday.
Lynn looked comfortable going into the break 1-0 in front, but a second-half onslaught from the London side saw the Linnets have to rely on a late Carl Holmes strike, his second goal of the afternoon, to earn them a point.
With Tonbridge drawing 0-0 at Eastleigh and Histon's game at Salisbury falling to the cold snap, Lynn remain on top by a point, but their nearest rivals still have two games in hand.
After the match, Bloodworth said: "I think in the end it was a relief to see us get a point. It may look like two dropped, but I see it as one gained. Fisher were a good side.
"Errors have cost us today big time and we went downhill rapidly after conceding from a corner.
"Fisher's first goal came from a goalkeeping error and we didn't clear our lines for the second, but you have to remember we had virtually a new back four playing out there today."
Bloodworth also took time to take a swipe at Stamford referee Mr Bryan, who controversially decided to delay the kick-off by 15 minutes, despite Fisher arriving at the stadium - after getting lost and ending up at Sandringham - by 2.25pm.
"I was disgusted with the way he handled the situation," fumed Bloodworth.
"Having arrived here by 2.30 they had half-an-hour to get ready, but he gave them another 15 minutes.
"We went to Chatham and had two minutes after arriving late. He didn't consult us and I don't think that's fair when your own team is in the middle of a warm-up.
Lynn went into the game with new signing Gary Butterworth lining up at left-back, Daniel Hammond and Gary Setchell in the middle and Mark Camm filling the right-back slot, despite feeling the effects of a recent foot injury.
The new-look defence coped well in the first 45 minutes in a game of cat and mouse.
Lynn were undoubtedly the better footballing side, but their passing principles were hampered by a quagmire of a surface.
Half chances came the way of David Staff and Craig Fishlock, who signed an 18-month contract prior to the game, before Fisher gave Lynn warning of their attacking flair in the 35th minute when former Tonbridge striker Leroy Huggins fired wide after good work by another ex-Angels frontman in Ray Powell.
Lynn took the lead six minutes before the break thanks to a commanding header from Holmes, who rose above the Hastings defence to power home a Fishlock corner.
Hastings were level within two minutes of the restart following a customary flap from Steve Wilson, who remained stuck to his line rather than commanding his area, allowing Powell to poke home a Adam Young header.
Wilson remains one of the best shotstoppers in the, league, but his continuing inability to deal with corners and crosses is becoming an increasing concern at such a critical stage of the campaign.
A fluent Fisher side now found themselves firmly in control and in the 65th minute Setchell, who otherwise had another outstanding game at the back, got stuck in the mud and Steve Aris slid the ball home from close range.
The Linnets reverted to a 4-3-3 with David Chick and Chris Bacon replacing the tiring midfield duo of Lee Stevenson and Fishlock respectively.
Chick impressed, but it was a cross from Butterworth in the 79th minute, which saw Holmes continue his knack of being in the right place at the right time with a neat finish.
Penalty claims for handball were turned down as rejuvenated Lynn surged forward for a winner.
It so nearly came when Chick's cross fell to Setchell, who couldn't quite dig the ball out of the mud from six yards out.
Lynn will be forced to reshuffle again in the weeks ahead after Setchell picked up his 15th booking of the season to leave him facing an automatic three match suspension.
: Wilson, Camm, Hammond, Setchell, Butterworth, Defty, Fishlock (Bacon 76), Holmes, Stevenson (Chick 66), Watkins, Staff. Subs not used: C. Defty, Woodrow, Higgs.
: O'Reilly, Henry, Rouse, Aris, McKenzie, Young, Smith, Burnett, Powell (Scannell 59), Huggins (Brady 88), Capoune. Subs not used: Barnes, Lorraine, Patterson.
: D. Bryan (Stamford).
: Gary Setchell.