March leave it late against impressive young Lynn side
March Town 2, King's Lynn Reserves 1
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League disvision one north
A goal deep into injury time gave The Hares all three points this evening against an impressive young Linnets outfit – and who knows just how crucial that strike could be at the end of the season?
Prolific striker Jack Friend's second of the night came after eight minutes of added time and means March are now three points clear of Norwich CBS in the final promotion spot, with a trip to the Norfolk side on Saturday.
March are already in the Cambridgeshire Invitational Cup Final and the semi-final of the division one league cup and, if they show the spirit and resolve they did tonight, 2019/20 could be the most glorious season in their 134 year history.
In truth, they were not at their best against a Linnets outfit expertly marshalled in defence by first team player Ryan Fryatt, gaining game time after a long injury. But earlier in the season they were not winning games when not at their A game - now they are and that could be so significant.
An extremely dull first half only livened up in the final five minutes, when March appealed for a goal after a Craig Gillies header was cleared off the line and then Lynn hit back, with Finn Howe's shot well saved by Charlie Congreve.
There was more intent from March after the break, but Lynn were fast and bright and had a good chance after 67 minutes, only for Howe to shoot straight at Congreve after turning smartly.
But the turning point came after 69 minutes. Jack Saunders was crudely challenged and his night was over. However, a thunderous 20-yard free kick from the ebullient Danny Emmington was headed on by Friend and March took the lead.
Lynn's young side came back though and, with 13 minutes remaining, Joseph Taylor ran down the right and crossed for 16-year-old Josh Brooks to score on his debut.
The game was a real spectacle at last and back came March, first Eoin McQuaid seeing his cross deflected by a defender and brilliantly saved by Lynn keeper George Whitehall and then Friend just failing to get a boot on the end of a great Emmington cross.
Lewis Gibson, a late sub for Toby Allen, then saw an 89th minute free kick expertly saved by the impressive Whitehall, before Friend turned and shot agonisingly wide as March ramped up the pressure.
There was a full eight minutes of added time on the clock when March mounted one last attack. A ball into the area was flicked on by the ever-willing Gillies and it fell to Friend who evaded the experienced Fryatt and gobbled up goal number 33 of the season.
New manager Arran Duke has now won five out of five games in charge and told me after the game: "This was a massive game and some people may have under-estimated how important it was against a good young Lynn side who beat second placed Downham 5-2 only last month.
"I'm pleased with the lads because they kept to the task. It wasn't vintage but these are the results that we weren't getting earlier in the season and these are the results that get you where you want to be.
"The boys have this belief now. They were patient. They were organised. They didn't panic. And we have great boys on the bench who can come on and make an impact, as they did. They are all part of it. With this positive atmosphere we will score in the last minute like we did today, but we have got to keep that going – we have won nothing yet.
"CBS is a massive game and we are looking forward to it. The lads are full of confidence, they want to be out playing football and the changing room is absolutely buzzing. The fans were amazing again tonight, yet again. They kept us going and they give us a lift until the final kick."
Congreve, Barker, McLeish, Emmington, Short, Saunders (Burrows 70 mins), McQuaid, Rawson, Friend, Gillies, Allen (Gibson 87). Subs (not used): B. Warren, Rothery, Romanos.
Friend (March) 71 mins, Brooks (Lynn) 77, Fiend (March) 88.
McQuaid (March) – foul, Gascoigne (Lynn) – foul.
Danny Emmington – Epitomised the spirit in the March team. Never gave up, never stopped believing and worked incredibly hard throughout.