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By GAVIN CANEY, Sports Reporter
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Familiar faces and places will be the order of the day for King’s Lynn Town when they begin their pre-season programme tonight at Yaxley (7.45pm kick-off).
Gary Setchell’s Linnets start their preparations for the forthcoming season at United Counties League Yaxley – two days later than they should have.
Lynn were meant to face the Cuckoos, who they beat 8-1 away and 3-2 at home last season, on Tuesday before torrential overnight rain made the pitch “unplayable”.
But Step Five Yaxley, who finished well below Setchell’s side in the UCL table last season, should offer a much tougher proposition than they did during the teams last meeting at In2itive Park in August.
Brett Whaley has returned to his hometown club after guiding March Town United to their highest Ridgeons (now Thurlow Nunn) First Division finish, fourth, in 15 years last season.
With a host of new faces arriving with him from March at the ambitious village outfit – including Whaley’s young stalwarts Gavin Cooke, Kyle Nolan and Dan Jenkins – Yaxley’s new-look side will be keen to impress.
But Lynn, who will play at Step Four of the non-league ladder in the Evo-Stik Division One South League, will also be keen to kick off their friendlies with a positive result and bury some Yaxley-based ghosts in the process.
Their last visit to In2itive Park ended in misery in May as a Conor Washington-inspired St Ives Town thumped Setchell’s side 4-1 to lift the UCL League Cup.
While Whaley’s new-boys will be keen to impress in his first game in charge, the Linnets are also expected to give ‘non-competitive’ debuts to a host of their new summer signings.
Former Long Buckby trio Richard Bunting, Russell Dunkley and Dan Quigley, as well as ex-Corby Town defender Phil Gulliver and ex-Lowestoft striker Jamie Forshaw could all make their first starts in Linnets colours.
Just two days later, The Walks outfit are back in action again, this time at home in a hotly-anticipated friendly against fierce rivals Wisbech Town (3pm KO).
The last time the teams locked horns after a short trip down the A47 was 2003 at the Fenmen’s old Fenland Park stadium. And since then a host of players – and managers – have crossed the so-called ‘uncrossable’ divide.
Gary Setchell managed Wisbech before he took the job at the newly-reformed Lynn, taking goalkeeper Alex Street and left-back Jordan Yong with him in the process, among others.
Former Linnets striker Chris Bacon shone in the Wisbech red last season and will be keen to excel on his former stamping ground as will Steve Appleby’s latest signing Dubi Ogbonna who enjoyed a brief spell at Lynn in 2011.
But it could be the return of Fenmen fans’ favourite Paul Cousins and Callum Reed to The Walks which are likely to receive the most attention from Lynn supporters.
Cousins – who swapped his hometown Wisbech for Lynn at the start of last season – was sacked by The Walks outfit following an internal dispute. And Reed re-joined Wisbech for the second time, after signing for Lynn, without kicking a ball in competitive action.
The hard work for Setchell’s men continues on Tuesday when they travel to Matt Henman’s Dereham Town outfit (7.45pm KO).
The match gives striker Danny Beaumont another opportunity to play against his former club where he scored a stunning 112 goals in 207 appearances. Defender Dan Buhlemann has also featured for Dereham in recent years.
Lynn reserves begin their pre-season programme at Sunday side Terrington on Wednesday night (7.15pm KO).