With leaders Tonbridge not in action, Lynn reduced the gap to two points at
the top of the Dr Martens League Eastern Division.
On a sandy pitch, The Walks outfit were 2-0 up on 55 minutes when Watkins
did his best to even up matters by tangling with Dean Yorath and kicking out
in front of the home dugout, which predictably reacted with outrage.
The hosts did not benefit from the one-man advantage they had for 35 minutes
until scoring just before the end.
On the win, which stretched Lynn's unbeaten run to nine matches, joint
caretaker boss Darren Bloodworth said: "We didn't start very brightly but
after the first 20 minutes I thought there looked like only one winner.
"All the matches are going to be tough between now and the end of the season
as teams will raise their game against us, but it was paramount that we got
the win on Saturday.
"We've been done on a silly set piece for their goal, but the actual
performance from the players after we went down to 10 men was superb."
On Watkins' dismissal, Bloodworth said: "Dale has kicked out after being
held down, but the reaction of the Sittingbourne bench made the incident
seem a lot worse than what it actually was."
The performance was not up to Lynn's usual recent standard, but they have
acquired the knack of picking up points when not playing well.
Sittingbourne, who had scored just once in their previous five games, bossed
the first half-hour and pinned the Linnets back.
The first opportunity of the afternoon fell in the second minute to Steve
Rutter, who headed straight at Lynn keeper Steve Wilson.
Sittingbourne had further chances in the first ten minutes, Wilson shouting
for the ball but Gary Setchell playing it which led to Neal's shot
rebounding off Setchell. Another deflection, this time off Jamie March, went
just past the post.
Lynn took half-an-hour to get a shot on target, Paul Raynor's free-kick
being saved. Soon after Jack Defty lofted the ball into the box and Watkins'
first-time volley sailed over the bar.
But on 33 minutes Raynor was fouled on the left and his free-kick was met by
a powerful header from Carl Holmes to give the Linnets the lead.
Holmes' deflected effort almost reached Watkins, but on 38 minutes Gooding
sprung the offside trap, however Wilson advanced well to block his shot and
tip Neal's follow-up on to the post.
Early in the second half two incidents involving James Campbell proved
costly for Sittingbourne. Firstly the home defender headed at Wilson.
Then he provoked an episode on 51 minutes which may well turn up in a future
David Seaman's Goalkeeping Nightmares video. Campbell passed back to keeper
Kevin Fewell, who swung at the ball and missed.
This presented David Staff with the simple task of rolling the ball into the
But then came Watkins' moment of madness.
The Brickies could not take advantage until four minutes from the end when
Lynn's weakness on set-pieces was again exposed when sub Michael Smissen
bundled in a corner.
Sittingbourne: Sewell, Taylor (Smissen 65), Yorath, Lye, Campbell (Ainsworth 85), Coyle, Gooding, Marsh, Neal, Smith, Rutter (Berry 45). Subs (not used): Beeney, Dowley.
Lynn: Wilson, Jones, March, Setchell, Fuff, Raynor, Defty, Holmes, Staff, Watkins, Camm. Subs (not used): Harris, Bacon, Woodrow, Nobes.
Attendance: 257. Referee: J Bottomer (Chislehurst)