Linnets struggle to contain promotion hopefuls

michael clunan

King's Lynn Town skipper Michael Clunan in action against Stockport - Credit: Ian Burt

King’s Lynn Town slumped to one of their worst home defeats of the season, despite a spirited second-half effort. 

The Linnets trailed 4-0 at half-time – two weeks after losing by the same scoreline at Stockport. 

It was no great surprise that Lynn were beaten – their current weekly budget would probably get them one Stockport player. 

And while Lynn are, as manager Ian Culverhouse describes it, just ticking off the games until the season ends, the Hatters are desperate to be promoted. Which is why for one club every pound is a prisoner, and for the other it is to be spent on bringing in quality players to finish the job. 

Culverhouse made two enforced changes, with Michael Gyasi and Alex Kiwomya coming in for central defender Elkan Baggott – needed by parent club Ipswich for FA Youth Cup duties on Friday – and midfielder Cameron King, who was forced into an early departure during the weekend loss to Dagenham & Redbridge because of breathing difficulties. 

Not surprisingly, the visitors were quickly out of the blocks, leaving Lynn chasing shadows in the opening stages. 

Paddy Madden pulled one just wide of Theo Richardson’s right-hand post and Harry Cardwell might have done better with a header that popped over the bar. 

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The inevitable came on nine minutes when John Rooney’s corner was headed in by Paddy Madden – who scored twice against the Linnets a fortnight earlier. 

Michael Gash tried to take matters into his own hands when Lynn finally got a look at the visitors’ goal, but his shot was tipped over by keeper Ben Hinchcliffe. 

Sadly for Gash, he got on the scoresheet at the other end moments later, turning James Jennings’ corner kick past keeper Richardson from close range. 

An uphill battle for Lynn was suddenly a near vertical challenge, but at every turn there was a white Stockport shirt, closing Lynn down, blocking passes. 

Lynn managed to stem the flow and visiting keeper Hinchcliffe tipped over a Gyasi effort just before the half-hour mark. 

Sonny Carey should have pulled a goal back on 33 minutes after good work by Gyasi, but the midfielder sliced his shot wide. 

Finally, Lynn were beginning to show some of the style which has troubled a number of the promotion contenders in recent weeks. 

But then on 37 minutes Lynn were carved open – Elliott Newby’s cross from the right was bang on the money, and all Cardwell had to do was nod it home, under no real pressure. 

A fourth followed six minutes later when Newby’s low cross from the left eluded Richardson and Cardwell tapped it in from two yards out. 

Culverhouse needed to bring out the best magic trick in his box at half-time, and Lynn started well, but Rooney’s blocked shot that went over for a corner was a reminder of dangers present. 

That appeared to have arrived on 58 minutes Newby was taken out by Tyler Denton on the halfway line, the ball fell to half-time sub Macauley Southam-Hales, who made inroads into the Lynn half before he was unceremoniously fouled by Callan-McFadden.  

It gave Rooney the opportunity to gain a measure of revenge over Richardson, who saved his spot kick when the teams met at Edgeley Park a fortnight ago. Rooney stepped up - and Richardson saved again. 

Lynn, to their credit, kept looking to get on the scoresheet, and neat footwork by Gyasi set up Gash for a curler that went inches wide. 

Carey shot wide after neat work by Rob Howard and Gash and Kiwomya was denied by the legs of the keeper before curling the rebound agonisingly wide of the far post. 

Carey was on target with a grasscutter easily gathered by Hinchcliffe as the Linnets continued to get close, but not close enough, to a goal. 

At 4-0 down it had been largely irretrievable, but credit to Lynn for sticking to the principles Culverhouse holds so dear. 

King’s Lynn Town: Richardson, Howard, Fleming, Callan-McFadden, Denton, Coleman, Clunan, Gyasi, Carey, Kiwomya, Gash. Subs not used: Payne, Babos, Jackson, Tsaguim, Gascoigne. 

Stockport County: Hinchcliffe, Minihan, Jennings, Hogan (Southam-Hales 46), Palmer, Rooney, Croasdale, Walker (Rydel 68), Cardwell (Reid 73), Newby, Madden. Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Maynard.