Five-star Linnets hammer Hemel

Hemel Hemstead 1, King's Lynn 5: King's Lynn opened a three-point lead at the top of the Southern League Premier Division last night with an emphatic victory in Hertfordshire.

Hemel Hemstead 1, King's Lynn 5

King's Lynn opened a three-point lead at the top of the Southern League Premier Division last night with an emphatic victory in Hertfordshire.

Jack Defty scored twice, just as he did in Saturday's FA Cup victory over Causeway United, and there were further goals from Alex Notman, Adam Smith and Matt O'Halloran as the Linnets hit five or more goals in an away game for the third time in four outings.

Shaun Marshall passed a fitness test and returned in goal in place of John Higgs while Michael Frew also passed a late test to start up front.

Notman set the tone with an early shot into the side netting but there was also a warning at the other end as Gary Sippets' powerful drive produced a fine save from Marshall.

With Anthony Thomas, the league's leading scorer, firing just over soon afterward there was nothing to suggest that this would turn out to be such a one-sided encounter.

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Even after Lynn had taken the lead on 15 minutes, with Notman's glancing header from Smith's cross, Hemel responded in a fashion which suggested that any points would be hard won.

Mark Warren was twice on hand to clear dangerous situations and Marshall had to be at his most alert to deny Thomas before Lynn eased the pressure was a second goal after 23 minutes - Defty adding a close-range finishing touch to a flowing five man move.

During a series of corners the Linnets hit the bar before Thomas fired just wide for Hemel from a free-kick after a foul by Warren.

But the Linnets finished the half much the stronger with Frew coming close to setting up Defty with a hard-driven cross and then foring just over himself after a telling pass from Notman.

In the second half Lynn began where they had left off and virtually had the points wrapped up on 53 minutes when Frew laid the ball off to Smith, who raced through to score with a fierce cross-shot.

Two minutes later O'Halloran added a fourth after being was played in by Sam McMahon.

That allowed Linnets boss Tommy Taylor to rest some tired legs by replacing Notman and Frew with Fry and Matt Nolan, the latter taking no time to make an impact as he forced a fine save from home keeper Steve Smith.

Another flowing moving from the rampant Linnets saw O'Halloran's shot saved and Fry's follow up blocked on the line.

Lynn continued to press with McMahon shooting just over before Lynn finally completed their nap hand when, from O'Halloran's cross, Defty thundered the ball past the helpless Smith.

It was to be one of Defty's last contributions as he left the field in Lynn's final substitution, making way for young Sam Gaughran.

To their credit, Hemel didn't throw in the towel. Having forced another low save from Marshall they grabbed a 75th minute consolation when Gould headed in from a free-kick after a foul by Warren.

Gould almost snatched another when he hit the angle of post and bar with strong header.

But the last word was Lynn's as O'Halloran's back heel presented a golden chance for Nolan to make it six.

Instead the shot cleared the stand, but by then the overall performance had been enough to underline once again why the Linnets are so strong fancied for the title.

Hemel Hempstead: Smith, Sinclair, Byrne, Aldridge, Gould, Hibbert, Kean, Herron, Sippetts, Thomas, Edgeworth,

Subs: Yoki, Valenti, Chakaodza, Skinner, Mares.

King's Lynn: Marshall, West, Smith, Warren, Cooper, Camm, J Defty (Gaughran), McMahon, Frew (Fry), Notman (Nolan), O'Halloran

Attendance: 264