I WENT to MARCH on Tuesday hopeful of being able to report the end of a bogey. But this was not to be. March have done it again, though in eliminating Lynn from the F.A. Cup for the third year in succession; it must be recorded that this year they were made to fight twice as long for their success. This is little consolation, however, to Lynn, who next year must, through their own failures, enter the early stages of the Cup competition once more.
Out of these embarrassing matches shines one bright light and that is that in Henry Gibson, Lynn have found a fine centre-half. In meeting March one has always had the fear that towering centre-forward Beach was the danger man. But on Tuesday he was blotted completely out of the picture by Gibson, who though several inches shorter than his opponent, won the heading duels with encouraging regularity and beat his man for sheer speed on the ground.
It was such a refreshing sight that one must pay tribute to Gibson and record that his success was due to one chief factor - that he made it his duty to get to the ball first. In achieving this he showed keen anticipation and invariably moved in front of Beach to take the ball before the March leader could do anything about it.
Possession of the ball is one of the most important factors in football, and in this respect Gibson was unrivalled throughout the game.
This match was in many ways very much a repetition of Saturday's encounter. It was a case of Lynn playing the football, yet showing little or no punch near goal. For much of the game Lynn, by their superior ball control, were carrying the play to the March end, yet near the penalty area they were completely blotted out by Price and his colleagues, the most conspicuous of whom again were former Linnets Rowe and Comerford.
Defences were in complete command throughout the first half, and it is true to say that neither goalkeeper had a shot worthy of the name to deal with. Lynn had their chances as they had on Saturday, but instead of shooting first time, they endeavoured to trap the ball, tap it into position, or alternatively to pass to someone else. While they were trying to do this March defenders just sailed in and either robbed them or blocked any attempted shots.
On the other hand, March, though doing less consistent attacking, were always the more dangerous raiders.
Player-manager McCulloch came in on the left wing and was a constant thorn to Lynn's defence. His speed and deceptive play had Henderson beaten several times, but fortunately for Lynn, other March attackers with the exception of Beach did not come upfleld sufficiently far to make use of his good work.
Hartnett, for this match in the unusual role of right winger, was again the most aggressive Lynn forward and near the interval came close on two occasions to putting Lynn in the lead. And, indeed. it was he, who, in the closing minutes was robbed of what deserved to be a goal.
During the second half Lynn showed up a, little better but soon they began to show signs of losing their midfield grip. On a pitch made slippery by a damp fog, Lynn were the more competent in ball control and hopes were raised when, suddenly, Downie tried a shot from about 35 yards out. It went all along the ground from right to left but just wide - fortunately for March because Ephgrave, in bending to pick the ball tip, allowed it to slip through his fingers.
Surely from this experience Lynn should have made it a duty to shoot at every opportunity and from all ranges, but they did not, and after 61 minutes the fatal blow came.
In a sudden breakaway Brooksbank cut in for goal and shot just as he was tackled by Henderson. The ball spun off Henderson's boot and well out of Crookes' reach.
This goal, to their credit, did not upset Lynn, but instilled a semblance of fighting spirit and from then onwards March were subjected to a gruelling succession of raids. Even Beach began to fall back to help out.
Still the Linnets ignored the all-important function of shooting. There were many goalmouth scrimmages as Dryburgh and Hartnett swung over centres, but invariably Price and Ephgrave managed to get the ball away. Then came the biggest heartbreak for Lynn supporters. Ephgrave pushed out a Dryburgh centre, but Hartnett promptly returned it fast and low through a crowd of players. This looked a certain goal, but standing on the goal-line was Rowe and the ball hit him and rebounded in the air for Ephgrave catch. Todd then made a determined effort to get through but was beaten by the bounce of the ball, and a little later headed against the bar after Harrison had hooked the ball back in the middle from a centre from Dryburgh
March came into the picture from time to time, but generally they were now reeling back against constant Lynn onslaughts, and even in the last seconds breaths were caught as Ephgrave dropped the ball.
Apart from their obvious failures, Lynn did not have the best of luck from the run of the ball, and so March go on to meet Wisbech at Fenland Park next week.
|March Town: Ephgrave; Rowe, Lawson; Dack Price, Comerford, Brooksbank, Campbell, Beach, Garrett, McCulloch.
King's Lynn: Crookes; Henderson, Bannister; Robinson, Gibson, Bunn; Hartnett, Todd, Harrison, Downie, Dryburgh.