Trophy time as King’s Lynn welcome old foes from Hereford
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King's Lynn Town turn their attention away from their league achievements and on to the FA Trophy on Saturday afternoon.
But for those who may think the Trophy takes a firm back seat, for a couple of hours the rivalry at The Walks will be as tense as at any league game.
The visitors are Hereford, a team Lynn battled with a couple of seasons ago as they tried to escape the clutches of the Southern Premier Central League. They famously 'doubled' the Bulls, but it was Hereford who finished top, went up, leaving Lynn to contest and, eventually, lose at the last play-off hurdle.
A year later Lynn joined Hereford in the National League North - and have turned the tables on their rivals. Hereford were deemed among the favourites for promotion, Lynn for relegation - but Lynn have defied the odds to sit on top of the table while the visitors are struggling. It's that change in fortunes that make this third qualifying round game such a mouth-watering prospect.
A week ago Lynn went top again after a 2-1 win at Southport while Hereford were thumped 5-1 at Altrincham, leaving them 13th in the table.
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Lynn boss Ian Culverhouse - whose team beat Hereford 3-1 at The Walks back in August - will know the Trophy may prove a welcome escape from league troubles, so will be expecting 'the best' Hereford. Culverhouse will again be without cental defenders Ryan Fryatt and Chris Smith, but striker Michael Gash is available after a one-match suspension.
Hereford turned to the experienced Russell Slade in August, and while the Bulls boss admits there is no hiding place for his team, admits the trophy fixture offers some respite.
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"It's probably the sort of fixture that we need right now because there is no hiding place," he told the Hereford Times. "I watched them (Lynn) against Altrincham and they looked a very decent side. It will be a real thorough test."
He added: "You can't make excuses and I can't dodge it as well. Okay I've inherited some of those players but they're my team as well. I feel totally responsible and I'm not dodging that, when they cross that white line they've got to want to do it and have a strong mentality to see it through right from the first minute until the last minutes."
The winners will receive £3,750 in prize money with the losers collecting £1,250.