Merthyr Tydfil 0 King's Lynn 2
26th April 2008
SAVOUR the moment and enjoy the party.
The Linnets finally clinched their first-ever BGB League (Southern Premier Division) title to realise their dream of Conference football.
A momentous day was signed, sealed and delivered by Jack Defty's goal ten minutes into the second half – much to the delight of more than 500 travelling fans.
Keith Webb's appointment 16 months ago raised a few eyebrows in non-league circles, but the rookie boss has proved his critics wrong by winning the title which has eluded the club for four seasons.
A delighted Webb said: "To take the club into the Conference set up in my first full season is the biggest achievement of my footballing career.
"There's been a lot of heartache and hard work along the way, but days like this make it all worthwhile.
"The boys have done magnificently to play under this sort of pressure and I'm just so pleased for all of the fans and everyone connected with the club.
"A lot of credit goes to the board and the chairman. They have backed me and Lee (Glover) and given us the finances to bring players in."
Linnets chairman Ken Bobbins said: "It has been a fantastic effort from the coaching staff and all of the players.
"Keith has had his detractors over the course of the season but he has worked ever so hard and so have the players.
"We should all be incredibly proud of them."
The Linnets weren't at their best at Penydarren Park, but the performance was immaterial – it was the final result which mattered on an afternoon which will be remembered for many years to come.
To their credit, Merthyr Tydfil made sure that The Walks outfit didn't have it all their own way.
Lynn missed a gilt-edged opportunity to relieve some of the pressure in the seventh minute when Matt Nolan overhit his square pass to Defty, who was waiting to pounce from a few yards out.
Two minutes later Craig Steins was foiled by a brilliant save from Scott Howie, who had one of his busier afternoons between the posts.
Lynn took the lead in the 28th minute when the home defence stood still waiting for the offside flag from a Joe Francis free-kick and Defty passed to Nolan to net from two yards out.
The Martyrs continued to give the Linnets a few anxious moments and seven minutes before the interval Howie fumbled the impressive Shane Dawe's free-kick, but Mike Jones somehow screwed the loose rebound wide.
Shortly after the restart, Ben Chapman appeared from nowhere out of a dusty goalmouth to superbly clear a Steins effort from his own goalline, while Howie denied Dawe with an acrobatic stop from his 30-yard free-kick.
It proved to be a pivotal moment as Defty found both the time and space to beat two defenders and slot home a second a few minutes later.
The hosts were reduced to ten men when Steve Williams reacted to a routine challenge from Michael Frew and stupidly lashed out at the wideman.
Linnets defender Rikki Bains was booked in the aftermath as tempers threatened to boil over even further.
There was still time for Joe Francis to miss his second penalty in as many games after Nolan had been clipped in the box by Dale Griffiths following a mazy run from Chapman.
Merthyr perhaps deserved a goal for their efforts, but probably realised it wasn't going to be their day when the unlucky Steins had a second chance cleared off the line – this time by Dean West.
On the final whistle there was a huge explosion of relief, excitement and jubilation. The celebrations began in style and one would imagine they are continuing in some places right now.
: Morris, Williams, Glassey (M. Griffiths 53), Thomas, D. Griffiths, Hartshorn, Harris, Clarke, Jones, Steins, Dawe. Subs (not used): Evans, Shephard, Watkins, Porter. Bookings: Thomas; Sending-off: Williams.
: Howie, West, Chapman, Bains, Crane, Fisk (Camm 90), Frew (Bloomfield 90), Sedgemore, Defty, Nolan (Turner 80), Francis. Subs (not used): Murray, Melton. Bookings: West, Chapman, Bains.
Goals: Nolan (29), Defty (55).
: Scott Howie; Referee
: T. Lawrence (Bridgend).