Paulton Rovers 1 King’s Lynn Town 3 – Red card can’t stop Linnets’ charge
Toby Hilliard's red card could not stop King's Lynn Town recording a comfortable victory in a bad-tempered trip to Paulton Rovers.
After an early red for Rovers' Jordan Ricketts, Jacek Zielonka's first goal of the campaign sent Lynn into the half-time break – and a fracas in the tunnel – with the advantage.
Hilliard and David Bridges swiftly gave the visitors a three-goal cushion before Jack Allward also saw red for Rovers, while Hilliard was dismissed for clashing with Josh Ford in the ensuing melee.
The game was relatively even until the first red card as Lee Stevenson and Darren Mullings each worked their opposing goalkeeper.
But once Lynn skipper Sam Gaughran tangled with Ricketts – who was shown red within seconds of the referee arriving on the scene – the visitors began to run proceedings at The Athletic Ground.
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A sliding Zielonka forced Paulton keeper Ben John into a sharp save to start a prolonged spell of pressure.
He and Hilliard had further efforts blocked by a packed defence before Stephenson nodded a Ryan Fryatt centre across goal and off the crossbar. But the breakthrough arrived when Hilliard dashed into the box, drew John out and crossed for Zielonka to sweep into the unguarded net.
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Lynn had to survive some late pressure, as Dave O'Hare volleyed off target and Leon Jeanne and Tom Knighton drew saves from Alex Street.
Five minutes after the restart Lynn were two up as they twice recycled failed attacks to find Stevenson, whose shot was turned in by Hilliard. Three minutes later they had another, although there were loud protests as Fryatt climbed on a defender to nod down for Bridges to stab home, the hosts claiming use of an arm.
When another Linnets attack broke down the tension erupted after Allward was accused of a stamp. Hilliard and Ford clashed heads in the aftermath, the Paulton man going to ground on the second occasion having initially being dragged away, leading to the goalscorer's dismissal alongside Allward.
When order was restored, Nuno Felix headed in a free-kick to pull one back for Paulton, but Lynn could still have left with a three-goal victory had it not been for a superb point-blank reaction save by John from Hurst.
Paulton Rovers: John, Williams, Allward, Grimshaw, Ford (Brown, 63), O'Hare, Jeanne (Douglas 87), Mullings, Knighton (Wheatley, 76), Ricketts, Felix. Subs not used: Hinder, Mateus. Sent off: Ricketts, Allward. Goal: Felix 86.
Lynn: Street, Fryatt, Yong, Miller, Gaughran (Castellan, 58), Bridges (Edge 69), Clunan, Hurst, Hilliard, Stevenson, Zielonka (Mulready 76). Subs not used: Smith, Friend. Booked: Edge. Sent off: Hillard. Goals: Zielonka 21, Hillard 50, Bridges 53.
Referee: Robert Cockle.