Record breaking season ends in Norfolk as Stratford go out on a high
By Andy Chilton
Thomas Baillie's Boys knocked out of the play offs after an excellent, spirited performance after a Linnets second half comeback
Match Report by MARK BICKLEY, Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS, Photographs by GRANTY
Town arrived at the Walks to face 2nd placed Kings Lynn in the Play Off semi-final following a traumatic week for all concerned. Having not managed to get a positive result in all previous encounters this was always going to be a challenge.
But this year Town have found a side that has, in some eyes, overachieved but you don’t get to the 1st Round of the FA Trophy, win the League Cup and make the play off by accident and Kings Lynn starting 11 was the same that had between Town 2-0 at the Arden Garages Stadium a few weeks earlier.
Albi Skendi dropped into centre back to match up against the threat of Michael Gash and Mo Sebbi and Jimmy Fry sat in front the back four, with Michael Taylor preferred up front.
As expected the opening 15 minutes saw the home side move the ball quickly and put the Town defence under pressure, forcing 4 corners and several free kicks in dangerous positions. But Town defended in depth and rode out the early pressure.
Gradually Town eased themselves into the game and a good move on 23 minutes involving Taylor and Grocott saw the ball falling to Jimmy Fry but his shot lacked power to test Alex Street.
On 25 minutes a free kick from Grocott hit Richards full in the face leaving him flat on the ground. Carvalho and Isaac were starting to find room down the left hand side giving Lynn’s Ross Barrows plenty of problems. One such move saw Carvalho deliver a tremendous cross which just evaded the on-rushing Shariff.
Town started dominating the play as the hosts were continual pressed back in their own half. On 35 minutes after some more controlled and patient play Kynan Isaac drove forward and his early first time cross was met on the volley by Mike Taylor who fired home.
The half time interval saw Lynn manager make some tactical changes and it was vital Town kept it tight at the back. Substitute Ryan Hawkins joined the front two of Marriott and Gash but it only took 4 minutes for the home side to equalise when a corner was taken short and the ball worked through Hawkins who hit an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner.
But Town nearly went back in from immediately when Mike Taylor intercepted a back pass and rounded keeper Street but from a tight angle couldn’t find the unguarded net.
With the game evenly balanced Lynn poured forward and a move down the right wasn’t dealt with by the Town defence and the ball fell to Clunan who drilled it home from 12 yards in the 61st minute.
But Town should have equalised a minute later. Town had the ball in the net only it to be ruled out for handball a decision hotly disputed by the Town players.
A minute later Kynan Isaac burst forward and was brought down in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Wilson Carvalho stepped up but his shot cleared the bar.
In the 71st minute Nabil Shariff turned and bent a shot into the top corner but was ruled out for off side a decision also disputed by the Town players.
The game became really open as Town pushed forward to find the equaliser and had a couple of scares when they were caught outnumbered at the back. But eventually they conceded a 3rd when a superb cross was met by a diving header by McAuley.
So Town’s season came to a close following the most successful campaign in their history with the players and management clearly looking disappointed that hadn’t got the result they wanted. However, their achievements have been immense and everyone following the club can be proud of the what they have done this season.
Stratford Man of the Match Kynan Isaac
Match Stats by ROD ABRAHAMS
|Stratford|| Kings Lynn|
| 6||Goal Attempts|| 11|
| 3||On Target|| 6|
| 0||Blocked Shots|| 0|
| 0||Hit Woodwork|| 0|
| 4||Corners Won|| 8|
| 7||Crosses into Box|| 6|
| 12||Fouls Conceded|| 12|
| 6||Off Side|| 1|
| 2||Yellow Cards|| 2|
| 0||Red Cards|| 0|
Stratford Yellow Cards – Fry & Isaac
Kings Lynn Yellow Cards – Clunan & Fryatt