Linnets ready for play-offs
King's Lynn 1, Wealdstone 0: Linnets boss Keith Webb insists his men are in perfect shape for Tuesday's Southern League, Premier Division home play-off semi-final against Maidenhead.
King's Lynn 1, Wealdstone 0
Linnets boss Keith Webb insists his men are in perfect shape for Tuesday's Southern League, Premier Division home play-off semi-final against Maidenhead.
Matt O'Halloran fired Webb's second string to victory in Lynn's meaningless league finale - skipper Mark Warren among six regulars rested from the win over play-off rivals Team Bath.
Webb admits confidence is sky high but urges caution against the resurgent Magpies - the last outfit to win in the league at The Walks on his managerial debut back in December.
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Maidenhead leapfrogged Hemel Hempstead in the final standings with a 2-0 away success at Banbury. Fifth-placed Hemel travel to Team Bath in the other sudden death semi.
The winners meet on Saturday in a one-off showdown at the ground of the highest placed league finisher for a place in the Conference set up.
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“I've no doubts my players are ready,” said Webb. “We expect a really hard game but you only get one bite. We know Maidenhead are a very powerful, strong side with lots of good athletes, but to beat Wealdstone with the team we had out just shows the quality we have here.”
Webb is relishing a potential reunion with old boy Grant Cooper - the centre-back poised for his first return since a mid-season departure.
“Football throws up funny things like that,” he said. “I'm sure Coops will enjoy the opportunity to come back here. He's a lad who likes to get involved in the big occasions and he'll be making sure the Maidenhead boys are up for it. Coops decided to go his own way and he's done well - it's just another factor in what should be a cracking game.”
Webb delivered a positive health check after watching his squad players' despatch the Stones.
“There's nothing fresh to report,” he said. “If the play off game had been over the weekend then Steve Melton would not have made it but we'll monitor him now in the build up. Jack (Defty) was struggling with a little groin strain so I decided to give him the day off. We just need to wait and see where he's at. If everyone reports fit then I know my starting line up.”
Webb admits his fringe men put forward a persuasive case for inclusion ahead of Lynn's high stakes Maidenhead test.
“It was important we carried on the momentum,” he said. “I stressed that to the lads before kick off and I was pleased with the performance. The attitude was spot on because it would've been easy to just go and play out the game. The centre backs looked rock solid, Charlie Defty played well in midfield and the front two worked extremely hard.
“Mark Heath-Preston got better the longer it went. He's done well in the reserves and I've been impressed with his pace and power. If he keeps working as hard as that he'll get every opportunity.”
Strike partner Danny Bloomfield poked straight at Mitchell Swain from close range before Defty lashed over from the edge of the box in a bright start for the remodelled hosts.
Theo Robinson shot tamely at Shaun Marshall from point blank range after Dean Papali fended off Danny Hammond.
Andrew Fisk wriggled free tight to the touchline but his cutback rolled behind Bloomfield.
Graeme Montgomery tested Marshall with a stinging drive on the restart. Lynn slipped through the attacking gears on 53 minutes to break the deadlock - Bloomfield's slide rule pass teeing up O'Halloran to smash his 13th goal of a productive campaign.
Carl Martin denied the wideman a slick second with a goal line clearance then Swain foiled the sprawling Defty.
Webb unleashed Michael Frew for a late cameo and the versatile striker almost marked his arrival with a fizzing far post effort before a thudding strike cannoned off the crossbar.
Marshall's acrobatic parry clawed away Lee Chappell's angled piledriver. Papali smashed straight at the Lynn keeper in injury time after Wealdstone had two quickfire penalty appeals waved aside.
t King's Lynn: Marshall, West, Blois, Hammond, Crane, Fisk (Camm 71), O'Halloran, C Defty, Heath-Preston (Frew 71), Bloomfield, Gould. Subs not used: Warren, Howie, Nolan. Goal: O'Halloran (53)
t Wealdstone: Swain, Chappell, Carbon (Adegoke 70), C Martin, Hall, Clark (S Martin 76), O'Toole (Donnelly 60), O'Leary, Robinson, Papali, Montgomery. Subs not used: Delisser, Wooldridge. Booking: O'Leary.
t Referee: M Chester (Lincs)
t Attendance: 823