RINK HOCKEY: King’s Lynn secured a historic league and cup double, winning England’s most prestigious knockout competition with an assured 4-1 victory over Grimsby.
It goes with the England National League title Lynn have now won for a fourth season in a row and earns sweet revenge for their only defeat of the league season.
The National KO Cup had eluded Lynn in each of the previous two seasons. In the semi-finals two years ago, Lynn were knocked out by Grimsby in contentious circumstances, losing 6-5 on aggregate to a goal which appeared to come from a high stick.
Last year, Lynn relinquished a 3-1 lead to Soham in the final to lose in a penalty shoot-out.
Lynn’s run to the final at Middlesbrough this season was relatively straight forward. They beat Ely and Colchester United 6-1 in the quarter-final, before hammering Peterborough 23-1 in the two-legged semi-final.
In the league, Lynn lost 5-3 at Grimsby and were robbed of the chance to gain revenge in the reverse fixture when the Lincolnshire side forfeited the match due to injury.
Grimsby beat London in the quarter-finals and Premier League heavyweights Middlesbrough in the semi-finals, so went into the final in confident mood.
Lynn goalkeeper Will Martin, had some strong saves to make as his team defended tightly but after a few close calls, it was Lynn who opened the scoring.
Some stunning individual skill from Jamie Griffin saw him collect the ball outside his own area before surging forward, lifting the ball over a defender and half-volleying the ball into the Grimsby net.
Grimsby struck back immediately to level before Lynn were awarded a penalty for a foul on Matt Baker and Josh Taylor confidently converted a hard slap straight down the middle.
Taylor was involved again for Lynn’s third goal minutes later, dropping the ball at the near post for Jack Tucker to blast the ball high into the top corner to earn a 3-1 half-time lead.
Lynn began the second half as they ended the first on the front foot and within five minutes it was 4-1 as Captain Vancouver Man of the Match Griffin undertook some ambitious skills to skate around the goal, lift the ball into the air and volley it into the net.
Lynn put their bodies on the line to block virtually every shot Grimsby fired in response and second-half goalkeeper Tom Allander proved to be an impermeable last line of defence.
After the game, Lynn collected their league and cup medals and captain Taylor was awarded the accolade of Senior Player of the Year, after scoring 50 goals.
Six players from the Lynn side will now travel to Barcelona to represent England at the World Roller Games.
Allander, Taylor, Josh Horn, Tucker, Baker and Owen Norris will link up with former team mate, and last year’s National Senior Player of the Year, Michael Carter, alongside Grimsby’s Charlie Greenwood, Peterborough’s Ruben Allam and Alex Mount of Portuguese side Sanjoanense.