By GAVIN CANEY, Sports Reporter
Saturday, April 14, 2012
A sea of blue and gold is set to engulf a Northamptonshire village today as hordes of King’s Lynn Town fans look to cheer their side to the brink of United Counties Premier Division glory.
More than 500 Linnets supporters are expected to make the trip to Long Buckby as their beloved team look to put the final nail in the coffin of their closest challengers in the UCL title race.
However, they arrive while a row over increased admission prices simmers between the two clubs with Linnets officials releasing a statement to voice their “disappointment” that fans will be charged £8 rather than the usual £6.
Buckby manager Glen Botterill has dismissed fears that travelling supporters will pay more than their Bucks’ counterparts suggesting “everybody will pay the same” and that the increased entry is due to the “sheer size of the crowd”.
An average of 55 fans have watched games at Station Road this season but the Northamptonshire outfit insist they have paid out to make the day run smoother with more volunteers and facilities on offer.
The dispute will hopefully be forgotten by 3pm when the UCL’s two top sides – who both look set to break the 100-point mark with at least one likely to beat St Neots’ record haul of 105 from last season – clash in the game of the season.
A victory for Gary Setchell’s side would all but seal an elusive championship that they missed out on so narrowly last season and the Linnets boss admits this afternoon’s match is the biggest of his two-year spell at The Walks.
The Linnets boss said: “This is as big as it gets. It’s almost like a play-off final.
“If we win we are almost champions, if we draw we’re still strong favourites, but if we lose it’s back in the balance. However we’re going there to win the game and it does have an all or nothing feel about it.
“Sometimes players can try too hard in games like this so they almost need to get back to basics. We’re a good side, we’ve got good results, we’ve put in decent performances and when we haven’t we’ve always put in good shifts.
“We’ve been talking about this week for ages, we’ve got over the first two hurdles and I don’t see why we can’t get over the third.
“The support on Monday at Holbeach was fantastic and it will be today – but only if they stay with us. If things don’t start that great they need to keep getting behind us. Sometimes at The Walks they can get on the players’ backs and that doesn’t help.”
Buckby’s 2-2 draw at Daventry United on Monday handed the title initiative firmly to Setchell’s table-topping Linnets.
However, they cruised to a 5-0 victory over Peterborough Northern Star on Wednesday and Botterill admits his side must win the UCL title showdown to keep their title hopes alive.
He said: “It’s massive because if we don’t win it will be over. We might have played four games in a week but the adrenaline will get the lads through it.
“When you’re losing it becomes a chore to play but today’s a huge game. We’ve prepared for the game as much as we can off the pitch and we’re not concerned by how many Lynn fans come – the more the merrier.
“There were more Lynn fans at The Walks in September and we won then. I’m sure there’ll be some 150-200 fans supporting us because this game has captured the interest around here.
“It’s worked out well for the UCL that two sides can still win the league at this stage of the season. It’s David v Goliath and there’s no pressure on us – we’re not expected to win the league and Lynn are.”
Dan Buhlemann (away with work) is the only player missing for Setchell’s side who know a draw will still leave the destiny of the title in their own hands. However, a defeat could see a tantalisingly close title-race decided by goal difference if Buckby win their two games in hand.
Lynn: Buckby (A), Desborough (H), Cogenhoe (A)
Buckby: Lynn (H), Blackstones (A), Boston (A), Cogenhoe (H), Blackstones (H)