A PAINFUL hand injury to goalkeeper Andy Claxton probably cost the Linnets victory in Wednesday's Southern League clash at The Walks.
Claxton. a hero of Saturday's win at Gravesend. was hurt making it save in the first minutes of the second half.
He went down at the feet of Andy Keeling, although the centre forward was clearly offside and the referee had ignored his linesman's signal.
Claxton damaged two fingers and his hand was badly bruised by the impact. he had difficulty in getting his glove back on after receiving treatment.
The Linnets, ahead from a 42nd minute Martin Coupe goal, were anxious to protect Claxton as much as possible and Sutton soon realised the predicament.
Lynn nervously lost the midfield control they had previously enjoyed and Sutton launched a number of snap attacks on an overworked defence.
The equaliser in the 68th minute would probably have been stopped by a fully fit Claxton. He was caught in no-man's land when Keeling forced his way goal-side of Colin Foster and the half-hit shot rolled into the far corner of the net.
With manager Keith Rudd going off to he replaced by Clive Adams. the Linnets could not afford to have Claxton leave the field its well.
Sutton kept up the pressure in the last 20 minutes and had a real chance when Dave Seddon sneaked in unmarked to reach John Winwood's cross, but he blasted the final shot well wide.
There was a series of three corners in a couple of minutes as Lynn fought to defend a point and thankfully Sutton were unable to find
another way through the massed ranks of defenders.
At the end. Sutton left the field delighted at holding the league leaders to it draw and their reaction was as if they had won 6-0
For the Linnets this was a bad result, especially as championship rivals Gravesend and Dartford had both won away from home earlier in the week.
Although the Linnets have hit a winning run away from home, they have now been held to three draws in succession at The Walks and the last success for the fans to cheer was
against Folkestone on November 5.
For about an hour the Linnets did look championship material and Sutton had problems holding them out.
Making light of the frost-covered pitch, Lynn were soon hustling effectively and after an early Jim Kabia shot was blocked, Rudd was decidedly unlucky when he turned the ball against the post.
In the 22nd minute Foster could have made more of the chance he had when unmarked to the right of the goal but he shot across the face of the goal instead of picking out a yellow shirt or having ago himself.
In a late attack. Foster really should have had a penalty given to him when he was blatantly bundled off the ball by goalkeeper Fred Whitehouse. There was no way Whitehouse could reach
a centre and instead he sent Foster flying, but the referee refused the Lynn appeals.
Foster, still feeling aggrieved. then nearly conceded a goal when a careless back pass went straight to Seddon who was denied by the agility of Claxton.
In the last ten minutes of the first half Lynn looked particularly dangerous and from a Freddie Easthall free kick a goal-bound header by Coupe was turned over the bar.
When Lynn was awarded a free-kick 2S yards out. Kabia hit a tremendous shot which beat the "wall" and smacked against the underside of the bar. There were three Lynn forwards racing in for the rebound and Coupe got there first to head in.
Just before the half time whistle Chris Watts threaded his way through the defence before hitting the final shot into the side netting.
When Lynn continued the work from the kick-off to the second half it looked promising. especially as Coupe had a low right foot shot palmed away and then
Easthall put a 20-yarder over.
But with Claxton's injury a deciding factor and Lynn then having their now
predictable second half malaise. all the good work was forgotten.
A strong showing once again from Richard Johnston in defence with Marty Wiles also effective and in attack Paul Bartlett looked dangerous with some first half runs.
Lynn: Claxton, McJannet. Foster. Johnston, Wiles, Easthall, Watts. Kabia. Bartlett, Rudd (sub Adams 68 min) Coupe
Sutton Coldfield Whitehouse. Peyton. Perrin. Richardson, Davies, Seddon, Winwood., Jones. Keeling. Wootton , Brown; sub Chapman,
Referee. R. Pawley (Cambs)