RINK HOCKEY: Four-times champions King’s Lynn concluded another glorious season with a 7-2 victory at home to Soham in their final England National League game of a season.
Lynn’s season has been injury-fraught and absences of Matt Baker, Jack Tucker, Owen Norris and goalkeeper Tom Allander threatened to derail their third consecutive title defence.
However, as other teams faltered, Lynn’s strength in depth saw them pull together to see off the challenge of closest rivals London to lift their fourth consecutive national title.
Lynn came into the game hungry after a below-par performance in a 6-6 draw at Herne Bay United, dropping points for only the third time this season.
A feisty affair at Lynnsport with Soham saw three blue cards and two direct free hits to dish up an exciting match for the fans.
The game started well for Lynn, with an early goal from Ryan Barnes and more dynamic play earned them a second goal with Matt Baker finding space at the back post to convert.
Josh Taylor scored a trademark slapshot and added a second to make it 4-0 before a late tackle saw him collect a blue card and a two-minute suspension.
Martin saved the direct free hit but, with only three men on the rink, Lynn’s defence stuttered. Soham, camped outside the home area and pulled one back before half-time.
Soham dominated the opening stages of the second half but it was Lynn who scored on the break with Baker notching his second goal.
Soham made it 5-2 and had the chance to make further inroads into Lynn’s lead when Baker fell foul of the referee, receiving a blue card for a reaching tackle from behind. Martin again saved the subsequent direct free hit and Soham were not able to capitalise on their numerical advantage because they too were soon a man down when Scott Neville picked up a blue card for a clash with Taylor.
With the contest down to three versus three, Taylor scored directly from the spot. Lynn continued to play with fluency and flair, and sealed the victory near the end with a flick shot from Captain Vancouver Man of the Match Josh Horn.
Lynn will be aiming to carry this momentum into the National Cup final, where they face Grimsby at Middlesbrough on June 22 for a chance to win the coveted double, and redeem last year’s penalty shoot-out defeat.