A lively encounter on a great night for football at the Field of Dreams saw Kings Lynn progress through to the Norfolk senior cup final.
An attendance of 261 were certainly not disappointed in what was a heavily entertaining tie, needing a penalty shootout to separate the sides.
The first few minutes proved to be a rather frantic start from both teams as they attempted to find their feet. An early, whipped free kick from Lynn captain Michael Clunan gave Toby Hilliard his first chance of the game, only for the striker to head over from 15 yards.
Norwich United attempted to put pressure on Lynn early on however the planters failed to create a clear-cut chance in a ten minute spell of pressure.
Lynn looked the more imposing of the two sides with Clunan involved again; a one two from a short corner resulted in United’s stopper Andrew Wilton having to back peddle and scoop the ball over the bar for another Lynn corner.
A dominant spell from King’s Lynn finally saw the side make the breakthrough in the 28th minute as Clunan whipped in a curling free kick to the back post where Ryan Fryatt headed home from no more than 6 yards. Ian Culverhouse’s side sensed there was more goals in the game for them and continued to apply pressure to the Norwich Utd defence.
A rush of blood from Wilton caused a moment of panic for the Norwich United support. The keeper charged out of his box and attempted to head clear a long ball, however his header skimmed backwards and only narrowly wide of his own goal.
A well worked move five minutes from half time saw Lynn striker Hilliard race through on goal, beating the keeper only to push his shot wide. A Clunan free kick looped inches over the bar two minutes later as Lynn pushed for a second before the interval.
Despite the west-Norfolk side’s dominance, United will have been disappointed to not equalise before half time. A scramble in the 18-yard box saw Alex Street make a good save in the Lynn goal, before Nathan Stewart's second swing saw the ball travel way over the bar. Fending off a late rally from United, Lynn went into the half time break a goal to the good.
Lynn made a point of taking their first half performance into the second period of the game. Only five minutes in a powerful strike from outside the box from Samuel Warburton struck the. Then another nervous moment from Wilton saw the United goalkeeper spill the ball twice in quick succession, only for Warburton to backheel the ball to the covering centre half on the United goal line.
It looked as though it was only a matter of time before King’s Lynn would double their lead as McQuaid shot wide from outside the area. Hipperson had a half chance to equalise for Norwich United, but Lynn continued to dominate. An enticing cross saw Warburton miss another good chance for Lynn to seal the game.
As the game approached the final ten minutes Lynn looked increasingly comfortable and likely to put the game to bed; yet Norwich United persevered. This perseverance resulted in the Norwich side pushing into the Lynn danger area as the game hit the ninety minute mark and winning a corner after some good play.
A never-say-die attitude set the tie up for the most dramatic of ends as the corner was converted in the 91st minute when Sam Watts headed home to equalise at the death and send the game to extra time.
Full time 1-1
Extra time was a different game with the Planters enjoying their most comfortable spell of possession and pressure. A great turn and strike from Dawid Radomski made Street work to keep it at 1-1 and moments later Christy Finch produced a moment of solo brilliance, only for Street to prevent United taking the lead once again with a good low save.
The second half carried on in the same fashion and a growing belief surrounded the Field of Dreams that the Planters could steal the game. The moment came just before time when a great piece of link up play between Finch and Hipperson saw the United No. 9 come within inches of winning the tie.
The striker did everything right, hitting low and hard to the right of the Lynn stopper, however Street reacted fabulously and made a spectacular fingertip save to rescue Lynn once again.
With most in attendance thinking that was it for the tie, there was still time for one more dramatic moment with Hilliard missing a great chance from six yards with a minute to go.
A long and looping cross was headed back down to Hillard who made enough contact but steered his shot just wide.
Final Score AET 1-1
Sam Gaughran stepped up first for the Linnets and his penalty was blasted way over the bar. Tim Henery stepped up for Norwich United next, only to miss wide of the mark.
Shaun McWilliams put Lynn 1-0 up in the shoot-out and Finch then stepped up for the planters only to see Street prevent him hitting the back of the net again with a brilliant save.
The next four penalties were converted leaving the tie at 3-2 as Toby Hilliard approached the area knowing that him scoring would take Lynn to Carrow road.
The striker’s tame spot kick saw Wilton save. Steve Shipley then stepped up and converted excellently for United to send the shoot-out to sudden death.
Jordan Yong and Adam Hipperson both scored. Ryan Fryatt followed, converting cooly and leaving stoppage time hero Sam Watts needing to score to carry on the shoot-out.
The Norwich United No. 6 took a short run up and went for power over placement, blasting his strike over the bar; a miss that saw the Planters exit the competition in the cruellest of ways and King’s Lynn Town book their place in the final at Carrow Road.
King’s Lynn win 5-4 on penalties (1-1 AET)
Written by Owen Page
King’s Lynn: Street; Zielonka, Gaughran, Fryatt, Yong; McQuaid (Lennon 78), Clunan (C), McWilliams, Warburton (C Ward 94); Hilliard, Edge. Unused subs: Congreve (GK), T Ward.
Assistant Referees: David Jewell & Paul Stearman
King’s Lynn progress to the Norfolk Senior Cup Final where they will take on either Harleston Town or Fakenham Town at Carrow Road on Monday 22 May at 7.30pm.
Harleston and Fakenham battle it out to be King’s Lynn’s opponents in the second semi-final tonight at The FDC Field of Dreams, KO 7.30pm. (Admission: £5 adults; £3 concessions.)