TT MATCH VERDICT
Sam Jones – @samuellejones
KING’S LYNN TOWN 2-3 TORQUAY UNITED
On a sunny March afternoon in Norfolk two teams having disappointing seasons by their own standards managed to play out an absolute thriller. Considering how we have struggled for goals recently, I went into the game expecting an ugly 0-0 draw. But a topsy-turvy game resulted in the Yellows, playing in turquoise, going home happy.
The game started as most games start, with the kick off. King’s Lynn probably started the brighter of the two, keeping the ball nicely and putting us under a bit of pressure. After about 10 minutes, we started to grow into the game and really should’ve taken the lead. A cushioned header to the Lemon found him in acres of space about 10 yards out, but somehow managed to put it over. A finish that Dan Biggar would’ve been proud.
The chances didn’t stop for the Gulls though. A couple of times United put the ball across the face of goal, but no one was there to finish it off. We did however manage to take advantage of our domination, with a goal Tony Pulis would’ve been proud of. A long throw from Moxey found the head of Wright about 10 yards out who steered it passed Jones in the Linnets goal. A lovely header, but the keeper should’ve done more (not that I’m complaining!).
Five minutes later and the Gulls doubled their lead. Some was on a picnic-esque pressing from Little won the ball in midfield. He found the Lemon who took a couple of touches and found Wright in the box. The veteran took one touch, composed himself and fired into the back of the net. A beautiful goal by a beautiful man.
United continued to threaten with Wright and Wearne both guilty of wasting great openings. The home side had created some half chances, mainly though dangerman Barrett on the left wing, but most were speculative long shots or free kicks that went wide.
So of course, Kings Lynn went on to score just before half time. Torquay failed to clear their lines, and the ball was whipped in from the right. Our defenders were caught ball watching, and Cameron Hargreaves (son of Chris) snuck in at the back post to put the ball back in the box. I thought Linton had got a touch onto it, but according to the home sides Twitter page, the cross went straight in. 2-1 at half time, which slightly flattered Kings Lynn.
Whatever Downes said in Gary’s absence, who was absent with a bug, it didn’t work. United started the second half like they’d just had a few Fosters in the changing room. The Linnets were all over us, as we struggled to get anything going. Saying that, we did manage to find a third just seven minutes in.
A wonderful ball by Moxey down the left found Little, whose cross fell to the Duke. He put the defender on toast, and curled an absolute beauty into the top left corner for his second goal for the club. The home side were incensed by something in the build up. I think they were claiming a handball by Wright as the ball came in, but it wasn’t obvious. The referee actually delayed kick off to go and chat with the fourth official about it, but the goal stood. Maybe he forgot we don’t have VAR in the Conference.
Despite this apparent injustice, the Linnets didn’t lose their wings. Just five minutes after the Duke scored, Brett (Shooter) McGavin got the ball about 30 yards out. With no one anywhere near him, he let fly with an absolute howitzer of a shot which soared passed the sprawling MacDonald. Foot like an absolute traction engine on that one.
The game got very heated after that. King’s Lynn were snapping into every challenge and winning every second ball. United couldn’t get out of their own half. The tension boiled over after an hour as handbags between Wynter and Linton led to a 20 man scuffle. Really not sure what happened, but both men received a yellow and the game went on.
The home side definitely had the better of the last 20 minutes. They bossed the ball and wouldn’t give us a moments rest. They created a couple of good openings, but nothing really came of them. Mac only had to make one real save to keep us ahead. Every now and then we would break, but a tired Wright or isolated Lemon would lose the ball.
The final whistle blew after a nerve shredding 7 minutes added time, and the Gulls took all three points. A really good game, and nice to see us actually score some goals for once!
Shaun MacDonald – 8: Excellent again. Made a number of good saves to keep us in the lead and was immaculate under the high ball. Couldn’t do anything about either goal.
Chiori Johnson – 5: Struggled defensively against the dangerous Barrett, and didn’t do enough going forward.
Ben Wynter – 7: Not a Centre Back, but was very solid today. Was incredibly resolute as we defended for our lives at the end.
Ali Omar – 7: What a turn around this man has had! From the walking calamity at the beginning of the season, to a very solid powerhouse of the Centre back. Would keep him next season.
Dean Moxey – 7: Loses points for being caught under the ball for their first, but was still excellent. Got an assist for the first, and played beauty of a ball to Little for the third. Rolls Royce of a player.
Tom Lapslie – 5: Not at the races today, as the midfield struggled to have any control. There was lots of effort, hoofed clearances and headers won but was fairly aimless with the ball at feet. Still, would rather have him on my side than play against him.
Armani Little – 5: Similar to Lapslie. Not great, but no lack of effort. Struggled to control the game, and his set pieces were poor. Did do well to win the ball for the second though. He’ll have better games.
Stephen Wearne – 4: Really not sure what he is supposed to offer. He obviously has some skill, but does nothing with it. I reckon he’s better played through the centre behind a striker, than out wide.
Stephen Duke-Mckenna – 6: Scored the winner, but his all round game wasn’t great. Would often show some great skill then lose the ball. Also, he needs longer studs as he kept falling over.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – 8: Still our best footballer by pure ability. Showed great skill and pace to create openings, and laid off a beauty of an assist the Wright for the second goal. Was running on fumes by the end.
Danny Wright – 9: Man of the Match. See below.
Dan Holman – 3: Really not sure what the point of Holman is. Not sure he completed a pass in his 20 minutes on the pitch. #FreeO’Connell
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Man of the Match: Danny Wright
What a man. His first goal was the perfect target man’s goal and the second showed what a good finisher he still is. King’s Lynn couldn’t cope with his physicality as he dominated their back line both on the air and on the ground. His ability to hold up the ball and bring others into the game is second to none in this division. He was shattered by the end of the game as he really shouldn’t be playing 90 minutes anymore. Need the replacement in the summer!
Connor Lemonheigh – Evans is such a good footballer. So wonderfully skillful and inventive. Will be amazed if he’s not in the Football League next season. Shaun MacDonald again proved what a shrewd move it was to bring him back. Just a very good all round keeper, and didn’t stop talking. Captain material if Asa retires?
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We lined up in a 4-4-2 with Wynter and Omar in central defence and Johnson and Moxey lining up wither side of them. Little and Lapslie had the responsibility in the centre of the park, with the Duke on the right and Wearne on the left. The Lemon partnered Wright up front. This worked brilliantly in the first half, as we were able to to hit Wright with the long ball and get ourselves up the field. We kept winning the ball high up the pitch to, meaning we could sustain attacks. This often resulted in us moving to a back 3, with Johnson pushing up and Moxey tucking in as a third Centre back.
In the second half, the control went as Wright tired and we struggled to get anything to stick up front. This meant we couldn’t push up and that’s just asking for trouble. When Holman came on, the formation seemed to go out the window. I think Armani was moved to the left, with the Lemon dropping into midfield, but it wasn’t obvious. With us lacking any control in midfield, I would’ve thought that Asa would’ve been better of the bench to help provide that bit of leadership. At the end of the day though, it didn’t matter as we won.
Kings Lynn worked very hard, but lacked the quality up front to really trouble us in the first half. They tried to play on the counter through the pace of Linton, or seemed to give the ball to Barrett on the left and hoped something happened. Omotayo upfront was a big man, and had a fantastic battle with Omar all game, which the man from Devon (via London) probably won.
In the second half they sensed blood and had much much more of the ball, but still didn’t do that much with it. They only scored because of an absolute wonder strike, but didn’t look like scoring with anything else. They actually looked the most dangerous when Kurran-Browne came on in the second half. As we tired, he was causing absolute havoc for our midfield. I can see why there are where they are, as they should’ve put us to the sword with the way we played today.
Paul Johnson had a very good game. Got most of the calls right, and didn’t over react at the scuffle in the second half. Let the game flow when needed too, and really didn’t affect the outcome of the match. More of those kind of performances please.
Got to be the Duke’s goal. United started the second half so poorly as Kings Lynn looked to get themselves back in the game. After some decent pressure from the home side, Moxey played a worldie of a ball down the line to Little. His cross just evaded Danny (who was accused of handball by the home keeper) and found its way to the Duke. He twisted and turned and slotted the ball into the top left corner, over the heads of two Linnets defenders. This should have killed the game off, and if it wasn’t for an absolute thunderbastard by Shooter McGavin, it would have.
Away Day Overview:
Kings Lynn is in the middle of nowhere. I really hadn’t realised how remote it was until I got the train up from London, and it took forever. What also got me was how flat Norfolk is. It’s like one giant field The town itself is a real mix of old and new. There are some stunning old buildings, such as the Guildhall and the Minster, then some absolute mid century monstrosities in the town centre, full on uninspiring shopping chains. The waterfront on the Great Ouse is pretty though, and so is the park that the stadium is situated in.
The ground, known as The Walks, is about par for this level. The pitch wasn’t great, but the stands were in good nick and the locals were friendly enough. There was also a 12th century gate outside the stadium, which was a nice oddity. £18 for entry was very steep for this level of football, especially for a team near the bottom of the table. Must be to pay for all the product Mr Cleeve puts in his hair. All in all not a bad day out, but one I wouldn’t do again in a hurry.
This game felt like a microcosm of United’s season. Not good enough going forward to properly put teams to the sword, but not good enough defensively to really see a game out. Against a better team, we would probably have lost today but fortunately King’s Lynn are pretty bad so it didn’t matter. There was quality attacking play from us, with no surprise that involved the Lemon and Little which shows what we are capable of. The second was reminiscent of last season, with the high press winning the ball back and some lovely interplay leading to a goal. We haven’t seen enough of that this season, which explains why we’re facing mid table mediocrity. But then there was so much, meh… Despite having some wonderful ball players on the pitch, we seemed intent to hoof it up to Danny all game long. It’s not like we’re 2008-2009 Stoke who have to rely on the big men up top. Maybe there is something I’m not seeing, and it all part of Gary’s Master Plan and we end up storming the playoffs? Who knows.
All I do know is that we will probably finish mid-table this season. Let’s hope for a better of summer of recruitment this time round, and really have another go next season. Onwards and upwards!
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