Linnets chase a spot in National League North play-off final

Mark Hughes insists King’s Lynn Town are “in great shape” going into their huge National League North play-off semi-final against Kidderminster Harriers at The Walks.

The Linnets have won their last seven games on the bounce – as have Sunday’s visitors – and the interim boss knows that victory will leave the club just 90 minutes away from an immediate return to the top flight.

A bumper crowd is expected at The Walks and looking ahead to the eliminator, a relaxed Hughes said: “We go into the play-offs feeling really good about ourselves.

Interim King's Lynn Town boss Mark Hughes
Interim King’s Lynn Town boss Mark Hughes

“We’ve got such a talented group here and it’s an absolute joy to watch them train.

“We’ve got players back and the competition for places has given me a real headache, but it’s a nice one to have.

“We know Kidderminster are fast starters and they will have a lot of support, but so will we and it’s about what we do.

“Last week it was a different pressure on us as we were relying on another result. This week, it’s all about us.

“We’re asking our big-time players to turn up and I’m sure they will. My last message to them on Sunday will be to make sure that they have one game left after today.”

Lynn defeated Harriers 3-0 at The Walks in November with goals from Josh Coulson, Theo Widdrington and Gold Omotayo before sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Aggborough Stadium later in the season.

Since that away meeting Sunday’s visitors have gone on an 10-match unbeaten run and finished the campaign with the third best away record.

Lynn’s boss has more than steadied the ship since stepping into the breach at The Walks and, crucially, he also has experience of reaching the play-offs as a player.

“Yeah, I’ve experienced the play-offs before when I was at Eastleigh and Cheshunt,” Hughes said when asked about his own memories.

“I’ve lost in the play-off semi-final to Dover at this level before in the South and I was also part of the Cheshunt team that won 3-0 to clinch promotion to the Isthmian League a few years later, so I know what they bring.

“Before the final with Cheshunt I remember saying to manager Craig Edwards: ‘we’re going to do it gaffer’

“And the end of the day it’s the players who do it on the pitch and I wish I was playing on Sunday rather than managing.

“When you look at our squad and we’ve got so many individuals who know about the play-offs and who have done it before and we’ve been sharing those stories and experiences this week.”

Defender Coulson is one such name at the top of the list.

Coulson already has promotions from the National League on his CV with Leyton Orient and Cambridge United – the latter coming through the play-offs – and his knowledge will be vital as Lynn look to progress to next Sunday’s final.

“Josh will tell you that the team spirit got him through those big games. He’s enjoying himself here and he wants more,” said Hughes.

“He’s such a big character on and off the field and conducts himself so well. He’s got Adam (Crowther) alongside him and he’s very similar in stature.

“Adam is a real leader. He is confident in both boxes, very good at covering people and also very good on the ball.

“It’s just the start for him, but in Josh he couldn’t have a better person to learn beside.”

Linnets skipper Michael Clunan has also seen two sides of the same coin when it comes to the eliminators – losing to Slough in the Southern League final before helping the club to its current level through the Super Play-off final at Warrington a year later.