Linnets promotion hopes take knock after surprise home defeat
National League North
King's Lynn Town 0
Bradford Park Avenue 1
King's Lynn Town's promotion hopes suffered a setback as they fell to defeat against bottom club Bradford Park Avenue.
Tom Clare's first half strike proved decisive as the Linnets missed the chance to return to the top of the table on a night to forget at the Walks.
The visitors enacted revenge for the chaotic 3-2 defeat to the Linnets in November as a first-half goal proved to be the difference between the two on a night where Lynn’s attack failed to get going against stubborn defending.
And there were unsavoury scenes at the final whistle, as both sets of players got involved in a bout of pushing and shoving after a Bradford player fell to the floor.
Simon Power fashioned the first chance of the game for the home side on seven minutes.
The on-loan winger created a chance out of nothing with an exquisite piece of skill before whipping in a cross which evaded everyone.
But, despite 47 points separating the two teams before kick-off, the visitors were not content to sit back and defend, as they restricted the Linnets to minimal chances in the opening 15 minutes and looked to get forward as much as possible themselves.
Power was proving to be a useful outlet out wide and with 18 minutes on the clock he created a chance for Sonny Carey, whose low strike was well saved before rebounding just wide off a Bradford defender.
From the resulting corner, Michael Gash’s effort was deflected over.
The majority inside The Walks were hoping to see Lynn move back to the top of the table, but they were silenced in the 25th minute as a Tom Clare strike nestled into the bottom corner via a slight deflection.
Having beaten another promotion chaser in Chester at the weekend, the West Yorkshire side were playing like a team devoid of any pressure as the basement boys continued to frustrate Lynn.
A series of corners amounted to nothing as Lynn struggled to create any clear cut opportunities before the half-time whistle.
A big team talk was required from Culverhouse if his team were to return to the summit.
Stubborn Bradford defending continued to restrict the Linnets to minimal chances as the crowd’s groans became increasingly audible.
With just over an hour played, Lynn reverted to three at the back as Chris Henderson and Sam Kelly replaced Ross Barrows and Sonny Carey. Culverhouse had changed the formation to a 3-4-3 formation in the hope of a breakthrough.
Despite the rejig, there appeared to be no way through the regimented opposition defence who stuck to their task with plenty of spirit. The final tactical throw of the dice was Dayle Southwell on for Power with 20 minutes left as chances remained at a premium.
The closest Lynn came to a leveller was when a Gash flick-on was cleared away just as it appeared certain to be bundled home.
And they missed a golden chance in stoppage time as Adam Marriott fired an effort over what was a rare off day for the usually prolific striker, much to the anguish of the vast majority of the 1,220 fans in the crowd.
Speaking after the game, Lynn manager Ian Culverhouse said: “From start to finish, I thought we were poor. Full credit to Bradford, I thought they were superb and you could see the willingness and throwing bodies in. They came and did a job on us.
“It’s very rarely that they [Lynn] put in a performance like that. It’s the first time they’ve done that since I’ve been here. You are looking for a bit of momentum and we conceded a really poor goal, no communication and they got through on that.
“I can’t really remember us having a shot on target or testing the keeper so a really poor night for us.”
The boss added that the dressing room was very quiet after the game, and he described some of the players as “leggy”, especially in the final third.
On falling to successive home defeats, he continued: “We have got no right to win any game. People still get carried away. I heard some booing at half-time. Don’t come and boo, we are going to lose games so if you are going to come and boo, don’t come.
“Get behind the boys. Tonight they needed the crowd behind them to give them a lift. They did not do that. I’m not blaming the crowd for us losing, I’m blaming the players for us losing.
“We are all in it together but if we are going to have success together and ride the wave like we have so far, we need help now and again, and we have got to make this place a fortress. We have done previously and we have got to hopefully try and do it again.”