King’s Lynn Town 1 Slough Town 2: Play-off final agony for Linnets
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
King's Lynn Town's season-long efforts counted for nothing after an agonising play-off final defeat at The Walks.
The Linnets have conquered almost all before them in a season in which they finished second to Hereford - but the team that finished one place and one point behind them came to The Walks - and conquered.
Toby Hilliard had given Lynn the lead in the tap in the 27th minute only for Chris Flood to level two minutes before half-time.
It was tough going in the blistering heat and a case of who could make it through unscathed. As the teams went blow for blow, it was Slough whose legs lasted longest - substitute Manny Williams popping up in the 89th minute to hammer home a killer blow.
The opening few minutes of play were spent in the visitors' half, as you'd expect, with Cameron Norman swinging in a free-kick from the left - a trademark that Slough would have to be wary of.
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The ball was bouncing around on a playing surface that looked rock hard despite the copious amounts of water sprayed on it, but Michael Gash showed great skills from the edge of the area on seven minutes when he lashed a shot against the bar after good work with Hilliard.
Ryan Hawkins and Hilliard combined well down the right, but Hawkins' low cross eluded Gash.
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Lynn were knocking it around well in the early stages, the right flank again the source of their best work while at the other end they dealt well with the first sightings of Guy Hollis' long throws as Slough began to settle.
Cameron King, scorer of a brilliant play-off semi-final goal against Weymouth, tried his luck from distance, but keeper Jack Turner was hardly troubled.
There was the first of two nervous moments from Lynn keeper Alex Street as he tried to play out from the back at a goalkick - a decision that ended with Frazer Blake-Tracy needlessly giving away a corner - unnecessary at a time when Slough were enjoying a bit of pressure.
Street then missed his kick completely as a short Blake-Tracy back pass ended in another Slough corner - any more unwanted party tricks and Lynn could be made to pay.
Blake-Tracy did well to block Chris Flood's low cross as Slough threatened again, but then came the breakthrough – a long free-kick from the left was headed back by Gash, Ryan Fryatt got the lightest of touches, but enough to direct the ball towards the far post where Hilliard slammed it home from close range, with Slough looking for an offside flag that never came.
It sparked a good period for Lynn, although Slough's Perry Coles caused some consternation when he ran on to a long ball – Simon Lappin did enough to put him off his shot and the ball was just wide of Street's right upright.
Slough did well to take the sting out of the Linnets' attacking instincts, and from a corner midfielder Lee Togwell, probably their best player, planted an effort against the stantion.
The danger signs were there and with just two minutes before the break, Slough got the equaliser they deserved, Flood rising highest in the area to nod home James Dobson's cross from the left - a good header, but Lynn's marking was poor.
It was perhaps just what Slough deserved and set up an intriguing second half, with Lynn needing to find a way of getting their big players – Norman in particular – into the game.
Lynn's full-backs got the treatment early in the second half, Norman and Lappin both hacked down.
Gash did well to tee up Hilliard but the ball just wouldn't drop in time for him to get in a decent shot.
Scott Davies came an awful lot closer at the other end on 52 minutes when he somehow squeezed in a shot which came off the bottom of the keeper's left post.
Man of the match Blake-Tracy denied a certain goal, Warren Harris teeing up Coles, but the Lynn defender getting in a vital touch to send the ball out for a corner.
It was all Slough, who detected more nerves in the home defence and pressured them at every opportunity - Lynn gifting them a sniff of blood by passing - not always very well - out of defence.
Hawkins was replaced by defender Tom Ward just after the hour mark, with Culverhouse looking to get more out of Norman and Lappin at wing back.
Norman soon won a free-kick near the Slough area - probably the first time in the game - and Lappin's delivery caused problems in the visiting defence. The sign of Lynn's attacking intent increased the volume, but again Slough refused to buckle.
Dobson teed up Flood, but the striker clipped the ball over Street's head - and the bar.
Lynn scorer Hilliard was replaced by Leon Mettam with 10 minutes to go, but there were weak legs beginning to show all over the field - it might well be a case of who could last the pace.
As the last five minutes approached, Slough looked the stronger, Flood shooting wide from 18 yards, as Lynn were forced to soak up energy-sapping pressure.
And the inevitable happened in the 89th minute as Williams took his opportunity when he picked up a cross from the left, turned one way then the other, and planted it into the top corner.
Lynn had four minutes of time added on to rescue the game, and predictably threw the kitchen sink at Slough. Street joined the attack for a corner, but Lappin wasted it - and that was it.
King's Lynn Town: Street, Norman, Blake-Tracy, Lappin, Fryatt, Jarvis, King (Siddons 90), Parker, Gash, Hilliard (Mettam 80), Hawkins (Ward 62). Subs: Frary, McQuaid.
Slough Town: Turner, Fraser, Wells, Hollis, Nisbet, Togwell, Dobson, Davies, Coles (Williams 62), Flood, Harris. Subs: Smart, Lench, Dunn, Harris.
Ref: Daniel Lamport