Former Canaries youngster produces moment of magic to keep Linnets on top
PUBLISHED: 20:45 30 November 2019 | UPDATED: 20:45 30 November 2019
Sam Kelly provided the perfect response to a demand for more of his undoubted qualities with a touch of class that helped the Linnets overcome one of the toughest home challenges of the season.
It was ace marksman Adam Marriott who got the goal, but it was teed up perfectly by Kelly with a sublime clipped pass into the penalty area.
It was the third part of a Kelly mini-series within minutes of his introduction off the bench alongside Sonny Carey.
First he teed Carey up with a similar chipped ball into the box, then he had a go at goal himself, just clearing the target from the edge of the area. Then came the piece de resistance which earned Lynn all three points and kept them top of the table.
To be brutally honest, what Kelly produced in those few minutes is what many Lynn fans have been waiting for this season: he came to Lynn last summer with a pedigree of a youth upbringing at Norwich City and Everton before senior football with Port Vale, Grimsby and Hamilton, but the 26-year-old has struggled to break into Ian Culverhouse's first team.
"I have spoken to him about it," said the Linnets boss. "We have had him in the office and said 'look, come on, we need more from you and the quality you have got'. He has found it hard to get in and stay in and it is hard because of the rotation side of things. Once he gets a run in the team, and I think it's now three or four games where he has come in and done really well, then you will see the real Sam and he will grow and grow as the season goes on.
"But it is all new to him, the way we play, but he has got a lot of good weapons."
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There's no doubt that Kelly and Carey helped changed the balance of power in Lynn's favour, although the half-time change which saw Aaron Jones come on for Tom Ward was forced on the manager - the big central defender was ill at half-time, which rather explained some wayward first-half defending.
It didn't help Ward's cause that Gateshead - coached by former Norwich City favourite Michael Nelson - wanted to play football rather than park the bus. They had quality all over the field, although JJ O'Donnell and the excellent strike Josh Kayode stood out. Kayode was denied by a magnificent save by Lynn keeper Alex Street - in a one on one, Street read the striker perfectly and got down low to his left to palm the ball away.
Gateshead deserved to be ahead, but then came the double change - and with Marriott on the pitch, you always have a chance. When he picked up Kelly's pass there was still a bit to do, but from a difficult angle he slid it past Bradley James and home.
"They were a good side," admitted Culverhouse. "They came with a good game plan as well and we found it hard. The pitch doesn't help - it is heavy and it is cutting up on us but I thought were they were very good in their game plan and it took a while to grind that out, and we lived on the edge a little bit. But we keep praising them and they keep finding a way to win, which is a sign of a really good team."
That last comment ought to be noted by some fans who vented their frustrations as Lynn kept possession in their own half - one or two boos were even detected, which is outrageous. As Culverhouse noted, that is the way his team play, and they aren't about to change now. They're top of the league - why would they?
King's Lynn Town: Street, Barrows, Fox, Jarvis (Carey 68), Ward (Jones 46), McAuley, Clunan, Richards, Gash, Marriott, Henderson (Kelly 68). Subs not used: Hawkins, Payne. Goal: Marriott 74
Gateshead: James, Nicholson, Barrow, Oliver (Preston 77), Lees, Williamson (Forbes 80), Tear, Deverdics, Kayode, Olley, O'Donnell. Subs not used: Agnew, Nelson, Guthrie.
Ref: D Skipper