Gary Setchell heaped praise on AFC Kempston Rovers after King’s Lynn Town needed an 86th-minute own-goal winner on Saturday to keep their United Counties Premier Division title challenge on course.

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Table-topping Lynn look destined to drop at least two vital points until the unfortunate Sam Brown sliced the ball into his own net with less than five minutes left at Hillgrounds Leisure.

The Linnets boss said he was delighted with his team’s precious 1-0 victory but understood why the Bedfordshire outfit felt aggrieved that they had failed to pick up anything from a game they had performed so admirably in.

“It was arguably our hardest away game so far. Our lads had to go to the very dying minutes to get the three points and Kempston will feel very hard done by,” said Setchell.

“I just wonder how Kempston are where they are because if they played like that every week surely they’d be challenging for the title. They work hard, they’re young, they move the ball around reasonably well and they showed lots of desire.

“I’m baffled about where they are in the table (eighth) as they matched us in every area. It wasn’t a case of my players not giving everything they’ve got, Kempston matched them for the majority of the game. You have to give them credit for that.

“We were poor in the final third with our quality but you’ve got to praise Kempston. It’s easy to point the finger at my players but they really made it very difficult for us by working their socks off.”

Jamie Thurlbourne crashed a free-kick off Kempston’s crossbar while the Linnets had a convincing penalty appeal turned down when referee Damon Pywell adjudged Steve Spriggs had been hauled down outside the box - even though it looked inside.

Setchell insists those incidents made up for his side’s lucky winner in an afternoon that ended in more controversy when the Walnut Boys’ Drew Phillips was sent off for stamping on a grounded Luke Thurlbourne.

Setchell said: “I think we had a stonewall penalty in the box given as a free-kick and also hit the underside of the bar. Maybe we got a bit of luck with the ball deflecting up over the keeper’s head for the goal but I’m sure over a season it levels itself out.

“Their lad deserved to be sent off. He stamped on Luke Thurlbourne there’s no question about that. Even their bench said straight away, ‘he’s off’.

“I don’t know where he caught Jamie but the intent was there. The lad had no problem with being sent off after and just held his hands up and said ‘I was daft’.”

Long Buckby continued to keep pace with Setchell’s men by beating Thrapston Town 4-0. The Bucks remain seven points behind Lynn with three games in hand.

• Lynn’s Under-18s entertain Soham Town Rangers in an Eastern Junior Cup Group 4 match at The Walks tonight (7.45pm)

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