Merthyr Tydfil 0, King's Lynn 2
Martin Davis King's Lynn clinched their their first Southern League Premier Division title and promotion to the Conference with a victory over Merthyr Tydfil at Penydarren Park today.
Merthyr Tydfil 0, King's Lynn 2
King's Lynn clinched their their first Southern League Premier Division title and promotion to the Conference with a victory over Merthyr Tydfil at Penydarren Park today.
The Lynn side were greeted by rapturous applause by their army of travelling fans as they took the field for their all-important title decider on a glorious sunny afternoon at Peny Darren Park.
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Previously the closest they have ever been was as runners up to Cheltenham Town in 1985.
Locked together on equal points with season long opposition in Team Bath at the top of the table they had to match or better the result of their West Country rivals who were playing at Chippenham in order to take the crown in what was one of the closest finishes in the Southern League for several years.
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Merthyr kicked off and their early attacking forays were repelled by Baines and Crane. Nolan for Lynn was almost in with a great early chance as the Martyrs waited for an offside flag which never came but he pulled his effort wide and Francis could not capitalise.
Both sides were taking time to settle on the hard and bumpy pitch. For Merthyr Steines beat the offside trap and took the ball well in before Howie went down to make a fine save low to his left.
Merthyr went close from a free kick which was headed down by Jones but Steines turned the ball wide.
Frew won Lynn's first corner kick which was taken by Francis but Crane glanced a header wide of a post.
For Merthyr Harris with two long throws caused danger to the Lynn defence but the first was headed away by Defty, the second to be cleared by Baines.
A poor goal kick by Morris was retrieved by Chapman for Lynn who fired the ball back in when Jack Defty caused the keeper a problem and he beat him to the ball and unfortunately for Lynn drifted just wide.
When Matthew Nolan was fouled Francis took the kick finding Frew who crossed for Baines to bring a good save from Morris but the linesman had already ruled the effort out for offside.
Frew forced a second corner again taken by Francis, this time Thomas headed clear.
From a foul by Chapman Dawe played in a dangerous free kick but the danger was brought to nought for a foul in the Lynn box.
Lynn went ahead in the 29th minute following a foul by Williams on Nolan. Francis took the kick which went through a crowd of players to Jack Defty who rolled the ball towards goal for MATT NOLAN to tap in from one yard.
Merthyr captain Thomas was then cautioned for a foul on Francis who crossed to Nolan who laid the ball back to Frew but the winger shot high over.
Chapman committed a foul on Harris and from another testing free kick from Dawe the ball was spilled by Howie but centre forward Jones poked the ball wide of the open goal.
When Steines chased a loose ball and crossed from the by-line Chapman sliced his clearance for a corner taken by Dawe deep to the back post but headed wide by Thomas.
For Lynn a free kick taken by West saw Jack Defty head down to Francis whose shot was blocked and cleared upfield where Sedgemore fouled Harris but again Dawe's curling free kick was well gathered by Howie.
Just on the interval a long throw by Williams was headed inches wide of his own goal by Baines.
Half-time: Merthyr Tydfil 0, King's Lynn 1
Merthyr almost levelled straight from the kick off but Chapman appeared miraculously on the goal line to block a shot from Steins with Harris dragging his follow up effort wide of the Lynn posts.
Then Howie had to put a long range free kick from Dawe over his crossbar resulting in a fruitless corner.
From a second Merthyr corner taken by Dawe the ball was headed clear by Sedgemore for a second but this time Harris for Merthyr shot well wide.
On the hour Merthyr made a substitution taking off full back Glassey who was replaced by Marcus Griffiths.
Francis almost immediately had a good chance for Lynn as he having been set up by Nolan burst into the area but his shot was over the top.
Minutes later Jack Defty made progress down the Lynn left flank, cut inside a defender and fired in a low shot past Morris into the bottom corner to put Lynn two up after 55 minutes.
Defty and Nolan then combined well to give Francis a run at goal but he was crowded out by several defenders.
For Lynn Baines and Crane were proving solid at the back and were the rock on which many Merthyr attacks foundered.
Fisk this time found Francis on the left again. He carried the ball into the Merthyr penalty area but as on the previous occasion his shot was too high. When West fouled Craig Steins he became the first player in to referee Lawrence's notebook as he was cautioned. This after good play by Clark had put the Merthyr striker in with a good chance.
Chapman breaking forward on the left clashed with goalkeeper Morris as he advanced to meet the threat at the edge of the Merthyr penalty area and was injured in the clash, Chapman becoming the second player to go into the book, the keeper's injury causing a lengthy stoppage.
Lynn were comfortably coping with anything Merthyr could throw at them as they began to run down the clock to the title.
However there was some life still left in the game when Williams and Frew clashed deep in Merthyr territory which resulted in the Welshman receiving a red card for his part in the incident. Baines of Lynn also received a caution. Lynn then made a substitution replacing Nolan with Turner. A good break on the Lynn left saw Chapman breaking in to the Merthyr box where he was brought down by Hartshorn for a penalty kick to Lynn but Francis hit his shot abysmally wide for his second miss in successive matches.
A promising move on the Lynn right saw West find Defty who with a deft back heel to Sedgemore who in turn gave Frew a chance but he was fouled on the edge of the box, Francis hitting the wall with the free kick which was deflected for a corner from which Crane headed wide. Merthyr had a final fling but Dawe's cross shot went over the bar.
They forced a corner again taken by Dawe which cleared by Howie helped by Jack Defty.
A bouncing ball into the box deceived Howie as Jones got a touch but West was on hand to make a timely goal line clearance.
Lynn made two final substitutions with Frew being replaced by Turner and Camm coming on for a cameo appearance instead of Fisk.
It was the last act as Lynn took the title on merit and with it a conference place.
Final score: Merthyt Tydfil 0 King's Lynn 2.
Team news: Apart from Gavin Hoyte the Cambridge United loanee out with a hamstring problem Keith Webb had his full squad available from whom to choose with Mark Camm now fit to return following his injury against Team Bath.
As expected Keith Webb did in fact keep to the side that had brought back a point from Gloucester City last Saturday the only exception being that Mark Camm was fit to return to the bench where he replaced Charlie Defty.
t Merthyr Tydfil: Morris, Williams, Glassey, Thomas, Dale Griffiths, Hartsorn, Harris, Clarke, Jones, Stines, Dawe. Subs: Marcus Griffiths, Gary Shephard, Watkins, Porter, Evans.
t King's Lynn: Howie, West, Chapman, Bains, Crane, Fisk, Frew, Sedgemore, Jack Defty, Nolan, Francis.
Subs: Bloomfield, Turner, Melton, Camm, Murray.
t Ref Mr T Lawrence from Bridgewater.