Norwich City edge King’s Lynn out of Norfolk Senior Cup
King's Lynn's best efforts just fell short as Matthew Ball's second-half penalty booked Norwich City's second string a 1-0 win at The Walks and a Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final with Gorleston.
The Irishman's 61st minute spot kick dispatched Gary Setchell's men in front of 744 fans at The Walks in an even contest, one put back 24 hours after Tuesday's freezing conditions – and manager Ricky Martin was happy with the night's work.
'That's what we were here for – a different environment for the lads, a hostile crowd and a little bit of jeering that they don't get on a Saturday,' said Martin.
'A week ago they were at Carrow Road playing against Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup and played very well on the night and were unlucky to go out. And tonight they had to pick themselves up and play against a totally different team, a senior team that is street wise with experienced players, and they stood up to it.
'It should have been more than one and if you're going to be critical, that's where we need to improve. If we'd got the second goal then the game is probably dead and buried. The longer it stays at 1-0, it only takes a slip or a referee's decision and all of a sudden they are back in the game and you've got extra time.
'We want the young lads to have the experience of knockout football, so it's a semi-final and we know we get a chance to play at Carrow Road again. The lads enjoyed it last week and they really do benefit from playing there, and we'd certainly look forward to playing there again if we can get our win over Gorleston.'
In truth Norwich's youngsters should have been ahead as early as the seventh minute, Reece Hall-Johnson's wonderful touch and turn setting Jamar Loza away and although the striker's return teed up Hall-Johnson a treat – the winger could only side-foot wide with the goal at his mercy.
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Josh Dawkin, fresh from earning rave reviews while on loan at Kettering, was next to test Lynn keeper Alex Street the winger's burst of pace deserved a better shot.
City were fluent – but Lynn's own early tempo was superb, leaving the young Canaries barely a moment on the ball.
And the Linnets worked their own chances too the ball well too – the combination on Jamie Thurlebourne's inswinging corners and Ryan Fryatt's well-timed leaps kept City's back line on their toes.
The entertaining game needed a goal – with Jack Defty's deft header drifting agonisingly wide for the hosts, while Ball beat Alex Street only to be flagged offside.
But he only had a few more minutes to wait before earning the visitors their win. Just after the hour mark the midfielder was brought down by Defty and Ball stepped up score from 12 yards.
Setchell made a triple change with 20 minutes remaining as he tried to force the issue but City stood firm – despite blowing some late chances to make the game safe.
City will now travel to Ridgeons League Premier outfit Gorleston in the semi-finals, with either Thetford Town or Norwich St Johns awaiting in the final at Carrow Road on May 16.
Martin reserved praise for goalkeeper Remy Matthews and returning winger Dawkin: 'Remy is in good form at the moment – him and the back four were solid and limited their opportunities to longer shots.
'Josh has come back full of confidence from playing senior football in the Conference and he looked lively. He probably looked our goal threat, like someone who would create the opportunity and I think there were a couple of times where we should have played him in but maybe took a touch too many.'
Lynn boss Gary Setchell can turn his attention to securing United Counties League promotion: 'It's the hardest training session we've probably had all season – I couldn't fault the lads' commitment; I thought they gave everything and we just needed to score first.
'We haven't lost anything in defeat tonight. We huffed and puffed and tried our best, but unfortunately Norwich were just that bit better than us.
'We keep saying we're step five players and there's only one way to conquer that, and that's to win the league and get to step four and see how good some of our players are,' Setchell added.
'I believe we're good enough to do that, but the only way we're going to find out is to go and do it.'
• King's Lynn (4-4-2): Street; Deeney (Hughes 70), Fryatt, Wall, Yong; Spriggs, L Thurlebourne (Watson 70), White, J Thurlebourne; Defty (Beaumont 70), Harris. Subs (not used): Hails, Buhlemann.
• Norwich (4-1-4-1): Matthews; Florence, Barker, McKenzie, Toffolo; Clunan; Hall-Johnson, Brindley (McGeehan 80), Ball (McFadden 90), Dawkin; Loza. Subs (not used): Cable, Jones, Murphy. Goal: Ball 62 (pen).
• Referee: S Meale; Attendance: 744