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Three second half goals see Linnets into play-off final for second successive season King's Lynn Town 3 Stratford Town 1

King's Lynn Town staged a thrilling second half comeback to set up a play-off showdown against Alvechurch on Bank Holiday Monday.

In a Southern League Central Premier play-off semi-final that had everything, the Linnets overturned a slender first-half deficit to clinch their place in the final for a second successive season.

Mike Taylor gave Stratford a one-goal lead at the break, but Lynn were a completely different animal after the interval in front of a bumper crowd of more than 1200.

Rory McAuley celebrates Lynn's third goal. Picture: Tim Smith (9650943)
Rory McAuley celebrates Lynn's third goal. Picture: Tim Smith (9650943)

Substitute Ryan Hawkins levelled matters with a stunning strike before Michael Clunan and Rory McAuley added further goals to seal an incredible win.

The Linnets made one change from the team that won at Stourbridge last week with skipper Clunan returning to the line-up in place of Hawkins, who had to be content with a place on the bench.

Lynn started brightly by winning a number of corners while Stratford were content to soak up the early pressure.

The first chance of the game came after 13 minutes as Frazer Blake-Tracy sent in a free-kick from the right and Ryan Fryatt nodded over the woodwork.

Stratford responded with Mike Taylor exchanging passes with Wilson Carlvalho before his cross found James Fry who saw his shot saved low down to the left by Alex Street.

Skipper Michael Clunan, back in the side after illness, wheels away after putting Lynn 2-1 up. Picture: Tim Smith. (9650945)
Skipper Michael Clunan, back in the side after illness, wheels away after putting Lynn 2-1 up. Picture: Tim Smith. (9650945)

The visitors began to grow in confidence and Shariff was inches away from connecting with a Carvalho centre 15 minutes before the interval.

Ten minutes before the break, Stratford rocked the hosts by taking the lead.

Once again, the danger came down the left as Carvalho fed the ball through to Kynan Isaac whose cross was sidefooted home by Michael Taylor from six yards out.

Lynn began the second half on the front foot and four minutes into the second period it was all square.

There looked nothing on when Hawkins picked up the ball from a corner before he stepped over a challenge and unleashed a stunning shot from 25 yards which flew into the top corner.

All of Lynn's good work almost went to waste a few seconds later after Taylor saw a shot flash across the face of the home goal after the big frontman had dispossessed McAuley.

Adam Marriott grabs Rory McAuley. Picture: Tim Smith. (9650947)
Adam Marriott grabs Rory McAuley. Picture: Tim Smith. (9650947)

Lynn's pressure began to build and in the 61st minute they took the lead after Ryan Jarvis played in Clunan and the Lynn skipper placed his shot past Etheridge with pinpoint accuracy.

Stratford were handed a lifeline eight minutes later when Kynan Isaac went down under little pressure from Fryatt and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

But Carvalho contrived to fire the ball over the woodwork to preserve Lynn's slender advantage.

The penalty miss proved to be the turning point of the second half as Lynn regained momentum, although the visitors did have further efforts ruled out for handball and offside.

Southern League Central Premier Golden Boot winner Adam Marriott forced keeper Etheridge to turn aside a shot from 20 yards and on 77 minutes Jarvis found space and time to chip in a perfect pass for McAuley to nod home from close range.

In the other semi-final tie, Alvechurch, trailing to a penalty at the break, also came from behind to defeat Stourbridge 2-1.

Rory McAuley and Paul Bastock. Picture: Tim Smith. (9650949)
Rory McAuley and Paul Bastock. Picture: Tim Smith. (9650949)

King's Lynn Town (4-2-3-1): Street, Barrows (Jones 69), Blake-Tracy, Jarvis Fryatt, McAuley, Clunan, Richards (Hawkins 42), Gash, Marriott (Mellors-Blair 85), Henderson. Subs not used: Parker, Robinson.

Stratford (4-2-3-1): Etheridge, Cox, Isaac, Sebeh-Njie (Wilson 75), Fry, Jordan Williams, Shariff, Skendi, Taylor, Grocott, Carvalho. Subs not used: Fisher, Shergill, Kai Williams, Fishwick.

Match Stats:

Shots on – King's Lynn 4 Stratford 4

Shots off – King's Lynn 6 Stratford 2

Corners – King's Lynn 9 Stratford 5

Offsides – King's Lynn 1 Stratford 6

Fouls – King's Lynn 11 Stratford 16

Yellows – King's Lynn (Ross Barrows, Ryan Fryatt); Stratford (James Fry, Kynan Isaac).

Reds – King's Lynn 0 Stratford 0.


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