The Dolly Blues’ impressive FA Cup run ended in Norfolk against Kings Lynn Town in controversial circumstances with referee Robert Massey-Ellis the centre of events at The Walks Stadium.
The referee sent off City defender Jacob Davis for a second yellow just twenty minutes into the game in an inconsistent performance that also saw head coach Darren Peacock sent to the stands.
Billy Akrigg had an early chance for the visitors saved when he could only volley Aaron Taylor’s pass straight at Linnets’ ‘keeper Alex Street after a good run from the City midfielder.
Davis saw the first of his yellow cards for a late challenge on winger Jake Jones.
Referee Massey-Ellis dished out the caution despite allowing similar fouls to go unpunished by the hosts to the ire of the City bench.
Minutes later and the Dolly Blues were down to ten men after Davis was adjudged to have blocked a drop-kick from Street, and Massey-Ellis quickly pulled out a second yellow.
From the resultant long hit free-kick the ball was headed onto Steve Spriggs to convert from close range to open the scoring. The goals then flowed from the hosts as City heads dropped and the Linnet’s soon made it two.
Michael’ Frew’s acrobatic effort was blocked by skipper Neil Marshall with George Thomson firing home the rebound to double the lead which became three on 39 minutes.
Sprigg’s cut inside from the right flank and played a square pass to Frew to hit a low shot for a goal that was all too easy.
Things didn’t look up for the visitors when Ryan Winder’s pass to Akrigg was skied over from six yards with the goal gaping just before half time.
During the interval head coach Darren Peacock was sent to the stands by Massey-Ellis as the City bench made their feelings known to the officials.
The second half performance from the Dolly Blues, however, was inspired. Despite the numerical disadvantage City pressed to get back into the game from the off and on 49 minutes drew a lifeline when Ben Hudson got his head on the end of a ball over the top of the Linnet’s backline to nod past a sprawling Street to make it 3-1.
Thomson came close to adding fourth when he hammered a shot off the post from the left side of the box before Lancaster again appeared to grow back into the game.
It wasn’t until the 88th minute that City got their deserved second with Simon Wearing scoring his first of the season when he expertly hit a curling lobbed shot over a stranded Street from a tight angle.
Referee Massey-Ellis was sadly in the spotlight once again a minute later when he inexplicably blew for full time with just 89 minutes on the clock, despite a full six substitutions being made alongside a number of stoppages for injuries.
In the end, the Dolly Blues exited the FA Cup with their heads held high after an impressive comeback against all the odds.