Chelmsford City 0 King's Lynn 1
31st December 1983
BY PROFESSION Linnets manager Keith Rudd is a schoolteacher and if he were writing an end of term report on the team it would probably be that old favourite: "Tried hard, could do a lot better."
Should he have space for some more terse comments: "Defence now looking stronger after shaky start. Midfield play has been inconsistent all season which is why the attack had not always nourished."
And if he wanted to round off the report: "Good players throughout the side capable of winning the Southern League providing they work harder during the second
half of the season."
The Lynn supporters who went to Chelmsford on Saturday - and there were quite a few - may even think those words sum up the match.
On the face of it this one goal win for three valuable points was an excellent result against a side capable of upsetting championship hopes.
Yet the inescapable fact is that for nearly an hour, Chelmsford played with ten men after their centre half was sent off, and in that period there was only. one good spell of Linnets play.
The plaudits go to Richard Johnston and Clive Adams in the centre of the defence and the two full backs Martyn Wiles and Les McJannet.
Here was the basic strength of the Lynn side with Chelmsford restricted to few chances which Andy Claxton capably dealt with.
Chelmsford found, just us championship rivals Dartford, Gravesend, and Welling, that the Linnets are a difficult side to score against.
Perhaps this is the pertinent time to put in some statistics which will make interesting reading for Claxton. Since he regained a regular place in the side in October, Claxton has played in ten games of which six have been won and four drawn. He has conceded only eight goals.
At Chelmsford, Claxton indulged in a session of circus-type ball juggling during one early attack, then did not put a foot - or hand -wrong.
The gale force wind blowing directly down the pitch was not really used by Chelmsford in the first half with only two shots getting in on target.
For Lynn, Paul Bartlett made some strong runs on the left and Jim Kabia did not put a pass wrong, but Keith Alexander struggled to get it right and where was the mid-field coming up in support?
It was out of the blue that the course of the game changed.
In the 35th minute Wiles was booked for a clumsy tackle on the tricky winger Frank Bishop. A minute later Wiles had set off on a surging run over the halfway line when he was the victim of a high, late tackle by John Devine.
The referee took the view that it was a deliberate challenge for the player and not the ball and sent off the centre half.
Wiles could have followed him to the dressing room just after, when he appeared to commit another foul, but the referee booked Johnston instead - a case of mistaken identity which surely saved Wiles.
Lynn's only first half threat on the Chelmsford goal came from a header by Alexander and at the in interval Rudd must have demanded greater effort in the second period.
The improvement was there to see from the re-start, with sustained pressure which led to the 62nd minute goal. Freddie Easthall's corner went long to Adams and although his effort back into the goal was blocked Colin
took possession and drilled in a low shot from 20 yards which the keeper may not have seen.
That must have disheartened Chelmsford and they should have been put right out of the game soon afterwards when Kabia led a snap attack, but Alexander shot weakly at Willie Carrick from 12 yards.
It's not always that easy to play against ten men who seem to put more into the game to compensate, yet Lynn did not stretch City enough down the wings and into the corners.
Instead, towards the end, Lynn seemed happier to be in their own half defending and Chelmsford took the initiative with some driving attacks. Johnston and Co were strong enough to the end, although there was one scare when Watts had to head clear from the goalmouth.
In the last quarter when Chelmsford were pushing forward, and leaving gaps at the back, Lynn missed the direct running of Martin Coupe who was starting his two match ban.
: Carrick Whitmore, Johnson, Moss, Bright, Longhorn, Cowlishaw, Powell, Blackhall, Anderson, 'Bishop; sub Herbert.
: Claxton, McJannet Adams. Johnston, Wiles, Watts, Easthall, Foster, Bartlett, Alexander, Kabia.
; P. Don (London).