A 67th minute goal from King’s Lynn’s midfield talisman George Thomson was enough to send Belper Town away from the Walks Stadium with nothing to show for their efforts.
With new signing, Ashley Burbeary unavailable, manager Jon Froggatt restored Evan Garnett to the opening line-up on the right side of midfield.
Predictably, the Linnets piled on the early pressure with the Nailers having to withstand wave after wave of home attacking play in the opening 15 minutes.
Nailers’ goalkeeper, James Martin was at his impressive best in those early stages, pulling off a number of fine saves to keep his team on level terms.
Former Glenn Hoddle Academy graduate, George Thomson was at the heart of most of Lynn’s goal scoring endeavours with a low shot from just outside the area that flew just wide and a bouncing half volley that had Martin at full stretch as the ball looked as though it might loop over him into the net.
Ross Watson then had Martin scrambling across his goal line to turn a goal bound shot onto a post and away to safety as the Nailers were guilty of creating many of their own problems with a series of misplaced passes and clearances in dangerous positions.
Belper ought to have taken the lead against the run of play when Jackson Ramm tripped Rob Stevenson as the Belper wingman sped into the penalty area.
But, what followed was straight out the ‘You couldn’t make it up’ story book.
Ian Ross was halted in his run-up by the referee who had spotted some sort of defensive infringement. Ross stuttered over the ball and sent a weak effort that clipped the outside of the post. Despite Belper claims for a re-take, local referee Wilson waved away the appeals.
As play swung to the other end, Martin pulled off a remarkable double save, first palming a cross shot from Steve Spriggs onto the crossbar and then superbly blocking a follow-up effort from Michael Frew when a goal looked certain.
Belper were indebted to Martin again just after the interval when the ‘keeper dived low to his left to keep out Thomson’s snap shot from 12 yards.
Belper then had two good opportunities to get their noses in front.
Rob Stevenson, Belper’s most dangerous attacking threat on the night, sent in a fierce low shot into the six-yard box that just eluded the onrushing Bruno Holden and then Evan Garnett weaved his way to the box and sent a low shot inches beyond the far post with home ‘keeper Alex Street getting the slightest touch on the ball.
The game could easily have hinged on another controversial refereeing decision after 62 minutes when Belper’s young central defender, Liam Goulding was adjudged to have impeded Jackson Ramm as the Lynn full back surged into the penalty area.
Goulding was red carded for the offence for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity but Martin was again the Belper inspiration as he flung himself to his right to keep out Thomson’s well-struck spot kick.
With the Belper lines now somewhat depleted, Lynn began to take a firmer grip on the game and they eventually edged into the lead when their new signing from Grantham Town, Greg Smith released George Thomson into the area and the goal scoring midfielder crashed the ball beyond the helpless Martin.
The game settled after that but with time ticking by, Belper threw caution to the wind by pushing men forward in an attempt to level the scores but they found man-mountain, Henry Eze an impenetrable block in the Lynn back line.
Nailers’ substitute Aaron Cole was the second Nailers sending off of the night for two rapid episodes of dissent against the now unpredictable match official, and with his dismissal went any hopes of Belper gaining any reward from the game.
King’s Lynn Town: Street, Ramm, Yong, Watson, Eze, Bridges (Mulready 64), Spriggs (Stocker 85), Quigley, Frew (Smith 64), Thomson, Jones. Other Subs: Fryatt, Pearson.
Belper Town: Martin, Jones, Pride, Ross, Goulding, Adams, Garnett (Cole 70), Warne (Varley 61), Holden, Cotton, Stevenson. Other Subs: Walker, James, Low
Referee: Alistair Wilson (Boston).