King’s Lynn Town 1 Banbury 0: Linnets’ new boy makes instant impression
- Credit: Ian Burt
If first impressions count for anything then the signing of Ryan Hawkins could well prove to be one of King's Lynn Town's shrewdest investments for some time.
Within just a few hours of meeting many of his team-mates for the first time, it took the youngster just a few minutes to show exactly why manager Gary Setchell has courted him for so long.
The 21-year-old played a pivotal part in the winning goal as Lynn stretched their winning run to four matches. Setchell has often cited the need for game-changers from the bench this season and on Saturday he was lucky enough to have two.
Lynn had been magnificent for the first hour of an absorbing clash, but it was the introduction of both Shaun McWilliams and Hawkins that gave them more bite and fresh belief.
McWilliams replaced the hard-working Lee Smith, who had run himself to the ground, seven minutes into the second half and the Northampton Town loanee immediately stamped his authority on the game.
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Making his return from injury, McWillams once again won many admirers as the all-action midfielder covered every blade of grass.
Hawkins, meanwhile, had to wait until the 65th minute before finally getting his first taste of action in a Lynn shirt – but it was a debut worth waiting for. Deployed on the right, the Mattishall-based wideman made a number of meandering runs while demonstrating vision and touch in spades.
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The winning goal arrived 15 minutes from time when Hawkins turned a visiting defender inside out before putting the ball on a plate for striker Toby Hilliard to slot home.
It provided the perfect ending to the week for Hilliard who, along with Hawkins, will remain at the club until the end of the 2018/19 season after signing contracts.
Banbury missed an excellent opportunity to level nine minutes from the end when George Jeacock's centre was flicked just wide of the post by Zac McEachran, but an equaliser would have been harsh on Lynn.
Almost forgotten amid the rush to praise Lynn's new arrival was the fact that the Linnets' defence had racked up another clean sheet, with Dan Quigley and Sam Gaughran both magnificent at the heart of it.