United Counties Premier Division: Holbeach United 0, King’s Lynn Town 2
The champagne is on ice at King's Lynn after Gary Setchell's team put one hand on the United Counties League Premier Division title.
Two goals inside the opening nine minutes from Jason Turner settled the issue, but it was events at Long Buckby that were almost as important, with Lynn's nearest challengers needing a late goal to salvage a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Daventry.
It leaves Lynn 12 points ahead at the top, from three games more. Buckby have to play again tomorrow night, against Peterborough North Star at Northampton Spencer, but the title could be decided on Saturday – when Lynn and their travelling army head for Long Buckby.
Buckby's draw was greeted with delight judging by the noise coming from the away team dressing room yesterday as news filtered through – and Setchell admitted there was no hiding the fact that it was a massive day for his team.
'Of course it is a lift,' he said. 'I would be lying if I stood here and said I am not worried about Long Buckby. They have dropped two points and with how tight this league is, points are like gold bullion bars at this moment in time.
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'If they have drawn late then fair play to them, they want it as badly as us, but they have had to go to the end today and they have another tough game against PNS on Wednesday night.
'We will get some rest and train Thursday and we will go there and try and win the game and put it beyond Long Buckby. We won't go there and try and draw or not lose and try and win it on goal difference. We are going there to win the game and make it as difficult as we possibly can for them.'
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Setchell had demanded a searing start at Holbeach – and he got it.
Jack Defty was denied by some excellent defending by Jonathan Allen, but from the resulting corner by Jamie Thurlbourne, Turner rose well to head home, with barely two minutes on the clock.
Holbeach won the toss, but gave Lynn the advantage of a strong wind at their backs – and Turner capitalised on nine minutes when Defty flicked a Jordan Yong clearance into his path. Turner got the better of Ben Brown and cracked home a superb 30-yard effort.
Thurlbourne almost made it three soon after when he sent a half volley skidding off the top of the bar from fully 40 yards out,
The dust finally began to settle, but the points were virtually in the bag.
Lynn's backline was rock steady, Yong and then Stuart Wall denying Andrew Tidswell in a rare moment of danger in the first half. Defty's dangerously stray elbow left Brown flat on his back as the interval approached, but referee Clarke was in a lenient mood.
The second half was a battle of attrition, with Danny White and Luke Thurlbourne two bundles of energy in the centre of the park, leaving their opposite numbers frustrated and resorting to the more physical, rather than aesthetic, approach.
Turner, still chasing his hat-trick, tested keeper Leigh Overton, while at the other end skipper Ross Watson's excellently-timed tackle on Milton Griffiths in the area exemplified his performance.
Watson headed a Jamie Thurlbourne corner against the bar, but perhaps the real highlight of the half came with 15 minutes to go when Street, who had barely been stretched, pulled off a magnificent Peter Schmeichel-style save at his near post to deny Tidswell.
Six points from six made it a good bank holiday weekend for Lynn – but it's not luck that has got them where they are.
'The players gave up their Easter – some of them were at the hospital on Friday to give out Easter eggs,' said Setchell. 'They came in and did an amazing shift on Saturday and they came in on Sunday and now here at Holbeach. We have worked four days, everyone has been in, no one hasn't been in – and that shows the togetherness and commitment.'
With Holbeach's crowd swelled from its usual average of around 120 to more than 600, Lynn showed on and off the field why they deserve to be playing at a higher level – and why that is most likely to be confirmed sometime in the very near future.
• Holbeach: Overton, Flack, Brown, Allen, Jackson (Goodhand, 86), Tidswell, Stupple, Kennedy, Griffiths, Nimmo, Treacher (Wilson, 73). Subs not used: Newton, Elston.
• King's Lynn: Street, Deeney (Fryatt, 75), Watson, Wall, Yong, Davies (Hughes, 80), White, L Thurlbourne, J Thurlbourne (Beaumont, 84), Defty, Turner. Subs not used: Harris, Hails.
Goals: Turner (2, 9)
• Referee: E Clarke
• Att: 628