King’s Lynn Town 3-1 Stratford Town
Evo-Stik South Premier Central, Play-offs, Semi-final
Report by Bryan Hale
STRATFORD suffered a play-off exit after conceding three second-half goals and missing a penalty at King’s Lynn.
Thomas Baillie’s side had led at half-time through a Mike Taylor effort ten minutes before the break.
But the Linnets, the league runners-up, stormed back with goals from Ryan Hawkins, Michael Clunan and Rory McAuley.
However, at 2-1, Town were awarded a penalty, only for Wilson Carvalho to blaze over.
After a tempestuous week in which Stratford had been docked three points for a technical infringement relating to Dan Creaney’s loan move from Coalville while still able to retain their play off spot, followed by the chaotic rearrangement of the entire Premier Division Central play-off schedule, there was at last some action on the pitch between Town and the Linnets on a bright and breezy Saturday afternoon at The Walks Stadium.
Town’s starting line-up was as expected with Mo Sebbeh-Njie preferred to Lewis Wilson in midfield and Albi Skendi partnering Jordan Williams in the middle of the backline, while the Linnets were unchanged from the League game at Stratford at the end of March.
After a cautious start, the Linnets had more of the ball but Town grew in confidence and they went ahead in the 35th minute.
Carvalho twisted and turned on the left of the penalty area before laying the ball off to Kynan Isaac whose first time cross was volleyed in by Taylor from six yards out for his 20th goal of the season.
The Linnets came out fired up after half-time and levelled four minutes into the second half. Keeper Ross Etheridge conceded a cheap corner which Clunan played across to Hawkins and he lashed a sumptuous 25-yard right-footer into the top corner before Etheridge could even move.
The Linnets kept up the pressure and they went ahead in the 61st minute as Town struggled to get the ball clear and Clunan drilled home into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.
As Town looked for a quick response Taylor had an effort ruled out for offside and then were given a golden chance to get back into the game in the 67th minute after Isaac was brought down. Carvalho, who had a 100 per cent record from the spot this season, fired over and Town’s hopes of further play off progress effectively went with it.
Thirteen minutes ffrom time, Linnets added a third with Ross McAuley heading in from no more than a couple of yards out.
Town had to pour forward from then on but the Linnets saw out the rest of the game earn a play-off final date at home to Alvechurch on Monday.
KING’S LYNN: Alex Street, Ross Barrows (Aaron Jones 69), Frazer Blake-Tracy, Ryan Jarvis, Ryan Fryatt, Rory McAuley, Michael Clunan (c), Jordan Richards (Ryan Hawkins 42), Michael Gash, Adam Marriott (Will Mellors-Blair 85), Chris Henderson. Subs: Joe Robinson, Craig Parker.
STRATFORD: Ross Etheridge, Chris Cox, Kynan Isaac, Mo Sebbeh-Njie (Lewis Wilson 75), Jimmy Fry (c), Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor, Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho. Subs: Cody Fisher, Kai Williams, Tom Fishwick, Rajan Shergill (GK).
Full report and reaction in this week’s Herald.