A taunt that the Linnets did not have 'the bottle' to compete against Burton Albion was answered in the best possible way on Wednesday.
After being a goal down from the first leg, the Linnets stormed through at Burton to win the final of the NPL President's Cup. This led to memorable scenes for the small hand of supporters who made the
100-mile journey into the Midlands, especially when skipper Richard Johnston held the cup high.
Some of the players could hardly believe it either. The locally-based Johnston and Freddie Easthall have both been
with the club for many years without being in a trophy winning team. In fact it was back in the 1960's that the Linnets last had their moment of glory, when winning the
East Anglian Cup.
Manager Keith Rudd commented: "I'm pleased that at last we have won something, especially for the lads who have been with us through the difficult years. Twelve months ago when we lost in the final of the East Anglian Cup Richard Johnston said we always seemed to be a team of losers, but we have put that record right.
"I was not despondent when we went a goal down in the first leg because we have been playing well away from home recently.
"I heard the Burton Albion manager Neil Warnock say that we did not have any bottle and before the match I
told the players this and said that we should prove him wrong. It certainly put an edge to our game with all the lads determined to win.
"We planned to keep the play tight in the first hour and if we got the goal back it would be a bonus. In fact we had the best possible start with two goals and that gave us every incentive then."
Rudd also praised his assistant Colin Foster, who has sat on the touchline for the two matches in the final, because he was cup-tied having previously played for Grantham. "Fossie has been doing the pre-match and half time talks leaving me to add some comments at the end. He has had a great
bearing on our good run in the past month."
The Burton Albion manager Neil Warnock had been urging his team to add the President's Cup to the NPL Cup they have already won this season. And the fans turned up in force as well, more than 1,000 hoping to see the Linnets put in their place. But the Linnets had been reading a different script and shook Burton Albion with two goals in 14 minutes - both from free-kick moves.
Chris Watts was first to score, in the 9th minute, picking up a loose ball 25 yards out and striding in to strike a right foot shot which dipped and swerved past the surprised keeper Paul Evans. That put the scores level on aggregate and in their next attack the Linnets went ahead. Jim Kabia's low free-kick bounced away from the grasp of Evans and
Andy Bircumshaw calmly tapped home the rebound.
It was an excellent first half showing from the Linnets. Strong and decisive at the back, full of running in mid-field and always forceful in attack - the right combination for success.
All the more surprising, then, that Burton should get back into the game five minutes into the second half. The
lively centre forward Paul Froggatt forced in one shot which Andy Claxton palmed away, but before the keeper could recover the ball was back into his goalmouth and Andy
Harrison side footed home. Now it was 2-2 on aggregate. The pressure was now back on the Linnets and when Wiles conceded a
free kick just outside the area the danger signs where there, but Johnston made a good clearance.
On the hour it was the Linnets who celebrated again with a decisive goal from winger David Burrows. A right-wing move involving Easthall, Rudd and Kabia ended with
Easthall pushing over a cross to Burrows who had one shot blocked before carefully steering the rebound home.
Burton now had it all to do again and this time could not break down Lynn's resistance.
In fact further goals for the Linnets could have come through swift breaks by Rudd, Watts and McJannet. At the final whistle
it was Burton camped in the Lynn half, but the Linnets fans were now singing "We've won the Cup" as they sensed
Burton Albion: Evans, Arthur Blair, Dolby, D Vaughan, I Vaughan (sub Marrow 72), Harrison, MacLain, Froggatt, Fisher, Sims
Lynn: Claxton, McJannet, Bircumshaw, Johnston, Wiles, Easthall, Watts, Thompson, Burrows, Kabia, Rudd.
Referee: T Johnson (Gainsborough) Attendance 1084