Wise heads on young bodies, but can King’s Lynn Town tie up promotion?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:28 07 May 2018
Head of sport Chris Lakey looks ahead to King’s Lynn Town’s season-defining Southern League play-off final against Slough Town at The Walks on Bank Holiday Monday
Cameron King won’t score many goals as good as the one which helped King’s Lynn Town take another step towards Southern league promotion.
But he’ll settle for a toe-poke from a yard out as Lynn look to end their season on the highest of highs on Bank Holiday Monday.
A season which saw them finish runners-up to Hereford – a team they doubled in sensational style – before overcoming the first hurdle of a play-off semi-final against Weymouth in equally superior fashion, ends with the visit of Slough Town, who beat Kettering in the other semi-final after finishing third in the table.
The prize is a place in the National League set-up - North or South.
Lynn go into the game on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run, including that stunning semi-final win over Weymouth last Wednesday, when a fine display was punctuated by three goals which, as King admitted, you’d struggle to match over 90 minutes. Anywhere.
After his one-time Norwich City academy team-mate Cameron Norman lashed in a free-kick, Beckham-style and then, two minutes later, Craig Parker volleyed home a stunning second, Lynn were in control before most fans had a chance to get settled.
But then King got in on the act. A corner was headed out of the Weymouth area. King, 25 yards out, watched the ball drop out of the sky. He set himself, then swung the right boot into a perfect connection to send the ball rocketing into the back of the net. It was a simply stunning effort.
The personal piece of brilliance is best described by the man himself: “The ball came to me on the edge of the box. I am hearing ‘just hit it’ from behind me. I think if I take a touch I am going to get closed down so I have watched it the whole way and I just it and I don’t think I am going to hit one better in my whole life.
“A lot of people shouted ‘Zidane”’, but he hit his with his weaker foot...”
Against Slough, King will settle for nicking a soft one from a yard out, a deflection, a ricochet, an own goal, left foot or right foot. Anything will do... as long as it is a Lynn winner.
“We will take any goal,” said King. “Everyone says before the game that it doesn’t matter who scores or how in these types of games – they have just got to go in.”
King and Norman aren’t exactly peas out of a pod when it comes to playing style: Norman is the powerful, storming full-back who terrorises anyone in his way as he controls the right flank. King’s home is midfield, with an eye on supporting his strikers – his touch is clean, neat, perfectly-timed, but there’s steel in his eyes as well. A manager’s dream.
What King and Norman have in common is an upbringing on the playing fields of City’s Colney training centre which has stood them in good stead. Despite their age – they’re both 22 – they have the heads of experienced players. It’s a facet of this team that no matter the age, whether it’s early 20s or, in the case of Simon Lappin, mid-30s, they all have wise heads on youthful bodies.
Lappin has adjusted well to a level of football that is a long way away from the Premier Leagues of England and Scotland.
Likewise Michael Gash, a centre forward who has done the rounds of good non-league clubs for a number of years but has been outstanding in Lynn colours.
The stars need to align one more time.
“Slough will be massive,” said King. “We had a tough game against them when we drew 2-2 a few weeks back... a technical side, it will be a football game. We are looking forward to it and we will be ready for it.” The emphasis is on “football game” and “ready”.
“We can take anyone on out day, even Hereford if they were in the play-offs,” added King. “We would completely fancy playing them again – we beat them twice. We would be happy for anyone in this league to come here - with the crowd we get, the atmosphere we create we know we can do the job. From the first whistle all around the ground they are singing and making noise and cheering us on, which makes a massive difference. If we keep doing what we are doing we will get the result for them. There will be a lot at stake but we fancy ourselves... we are going to do a job.”
Bold words, but said with confidence, not brash, ill-considered arrogance.
Quality and experience have merged into one under Culverhouse, whose target at the start of this, his first full season in charge, was simple: promotion.
By the time the lights go off we will know whether he has reached it, or seen it slip agonisingly out of reach.