FOOTBALL: King’s Lynn Town will be plying their trade in National League North next season, just two steps away from the Football League, after a thrilling Super Play-off win at Warrington on Saturday.
Lynn’s 3-2 victory at Northern Premier League play-off winners Warrington Town came in nail-biting fashion, with Adam Marriott converting an 86th-minute penalty to force extra-time and then strike partner Michael Gash firing home a 115th-minute winner to spark wild scenes among the large army of travelling Linnets fans.
Central Premier League play-off winners Lynn started brightly with Marriott firing narrowly wide of the target in the opening minutes.
That set the tone and it was Lynn who took the lead after 15 minutes. Ross Barrows’ cross from the left was not dealt with and the ball fell to Jordan Richards who took aim and fired past the rooted Tony McMillan in the home goal.
But the lead lasted only two minutes as the Wire fired back. Alex Whittle and Tony Gray created space down the left and Gray’s cross was headed home by centre back Ben Garrity.
Lynn could have been awarded a penalty when top scorer Marriott went down inside the area but the striker earned only a booking for simulation.
The goal spurred the home side into life and they nearly took the lead minutes before the half-time break. Linnets captain Michael Clunan was dispossessed by Dylan Vassallo and he released Jack Mackreth but the winger’s poor touch allowed Alex Street time to rush off his line and smother the ball.
Lynn hit back after the break but against the run of the play Wire took the lead, when Vassallo’s corner was met by Garrity and his unopposed header flew in.
Josh Amis should have sealed the match for the home side but his shot flew into the side netting.
That proved expensive because after 86 minutes Lynn were awarded a penalty for a foul by Robbie Evans on Marriott and the Lynn marksman dusted himself off and to make it 2-2.
Ryan Hawkins was twice denied, in stoppage time and again early in extra-time, while Street kept Lynn in the game with a superb reaction block from Amis.
A penalty shoot-out was looming until Gash and Fraser Blake-Tracy exchanged passes with five minutes to go and Gash created himself space to cut back on to his right foot and unleash a curling effort that flew past McMillan and into the corner of the net for the winner.
Team hit target set by Culverhouse
FOOTBALL: A drained Ian Culverhouse was struggling for words after seeing his side earn their place at the second highest level of non-League football on Saturday.
The Linnets manager said: “It’s unbelievable. I can’t put into words how proud I am of the lads. The effort they have put in is incredible; they deserve this today, they really do.”
He admitted it was not one of his side’s better days from a playing point of view but was happy to overlook that.
“I don’t think we played particularly well but it was a one-off game and we couldn’t get on the ball very much but I don’t care. I really don’t care because that was some effort they put on out there.
“I was disappointed how we conceded the goals. The first one we got caught on the ball and it was a good clip to the back post and the lad wanted it more than us.
“The second was even more disappointing as we got caught from a set play. I don’t know whose man it was but somebody switched off.
“But the way we responded was fantastic, Mazz (Adam Marriott) was cool as you like from the penalty spot and the winning goal. Wow!
“The way Gashy cut inside was unbelievable. He is a massive asset to us and a pain in the backside to the teams that play against us.
“He was colossal today. The Northern Premier League is very physical but to have somebody who takes the poundings like he does every week is unbelievable. He’s been immense all season.
“The lads have done the town proud and the supporters have turned out in their hundreds and I’m so, so pleased for them.”
Culverhouse revealed he had set the team a target after the defeat at Rushden in February.
“We sat in the changing room and we were all very honest with each other and said we needed to get 10 wins. We did that and those wins got us second place and two home games in the play-offs, which was big for us.”
He also said the trek to Warrington had been unfair on his team.
“It has been a struggle. It was wrong for us to have to travel all this way for another game but I’m pleased for Stephen (chairman, Cleeve) as he’s backed us. He brought us all up last night and paid for the overnight stay. It doesn’t guarantee you anything but what it does do it gives you a chance to prepare properly. It now looks like money well spent.
“Next season is going to be a massive task. It’s a big step up.”