Photo gallery: Evo-Stik Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 3, Frickley Athletic 0
- Credit: IAN BURT
Defender Stuart Wall helped Lynn stop the rot as he made his first competitive appearance for the club in almost two years.
The 2011/12 players' player of the season hadn't made a competitive appearance for the Linnets since May 7, 2012, after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during pre-season. A heartbreakingly lengthy period on the sidelines followed before the 26-year-old gained some much-needed game time away from Norfolk following an operation to fix the problem, most recently with fellow Step Three outfit Bedford Town.
Yet today was the moment he finally made his return and the popular player enjoyed a dream comeback as Lynn ended a run of five consecutive defeats and kept a clean sheet in the process to record a comfortable victory.
George Thomson's beautiful 20th-minute free-kick opened the scoring before the goalscorer turned provider to set up Dan Quigley to make it two early in the second period. Jake Jones made it three in his last appearance before a five-game ban to end The Walks' team's bad run of luck while increasing relegation-threatened Frickley's fears of dropping out of the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Gary Setchell had looked to be short of options in the build-up to the game with goalkeeper Ashley Timms, defenders Ryan Fryatt and Jason Lee as well as midfielder Gary Mills all injured. Playmaker David Bell was at a family wedding. But Andy Hall and Massiah McDonald overcame late fitness tests to provide a boost and make the 16-man selection while Wall, Charley Sanders and Chris Ward all returned to the squad following brief spells away for a variety of reasons.
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Lynn's boss had promised to mix things up with his side no longer realistically vying for promotion or fighting relegation, unlike Athletic. And he did just that by switching to a 3-5-2 formation rather than deploying his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 set-up.
Ryan Clarke, Quigley and Wall formed the hosts' backline while Peter Bore and Jordan Yong adopted wing-back roles. Hall played up top alongside Sam Mulready.
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The new system seemed to work early on with an advanced Bore crossing in the direction of Mulready and Jones, both of whom failed to make contact with his centre. The ball found usual left-back Yong at the back stick but his shot reached Ben Simpson in the visitors' goal. The keeper tipped his powerful drive over and from the resulting corner Wall's header drifted comfortably into the shot-stopper's hands.
The strugglers' first foray forward saw Gavin Allott smash wildly wide. The approach play had looked good, the finish certainly didn't.
Both out-of-form outfits seemed keen to find that confidence-building spark to take control. And when Jones, playing in a more central role, was fouled, gifted midfielder Thomson provided it. His set piece from outside the area whipped over the wall into the top corner.
Little happened for the next 15 minutes until Quigley, who had previously barely missed a sniff, let Allott nick the ball off of him after a misjudgement. But the contracted youngster more than made up for his error by producing a sublime goal-saving challenge to win the ball back as Athletic's number 10 went to pull the trigger.
A goalmouth game of ping-pong after Town goalie Alex Street had weakly punched a set piece away saw Bore hook away off his own line. It was enough for a few nerves to filter through an otherwise quiet and relaxed home crowd. But those worries soon dispersed as the rest of the first period petered out with little activity.
Frickley nearly drew level immediately after the restart when Ryan Clarke almost turned into his own net. But he was relieved to see Street gets fingertips to his attempt to divert Allott's probing centre. At the other end, the same Linnet flashed Thomson's corner past the foot of the post with a header.
But the next header was more fruitful as Quigley rose like a salmon at the back post to power the corner-taker's latest delivery in the opposite direction and into the side of the net.
To many it appeared it was game over but Luke Hinsley's daisy-cutter across goal, which took a slight deflection off Wall, hit the woodwork to remind the home faithful that Athletic were still in the game.
However, Jones removed any minimal lingering doubt of an undeserved comeback by robbing Sam Denton of the ball with about 15 minutes left and strode into the box before finishing cooly.
Allott capped a miserable couple of minutes for the away side as he missed a sitter almost instantly to pull a goal back. The three-goal gap would have widened had Simpson not made a sprawling stop to deny Yong's rocket from finding the net.
And that was that for goalmouth action as Lynn saw the game out in second gear to return to winning ways.
Lynn (3-5-2): Street, Bore (Stocker, 82), Yong, Wall, R. Clarke, Thomson, Hall, Quigley, Mulready (Sanders, 69), Hurst (E. Clarke, 80), Jones. Subs not used: McDonald, Ward. Booked: None. Goals: Thomson (20), Quigley (57), Jones (74).
Frickley (4-4-2): Simpson, Amdal, Villerman, Picton, Denton, Jeffs, Moke (Grant, 62), Wilcox (Hornsey, 62), Hinsley, Allott, Ghaichem (Kerr, 72). Subs not used: Stratford, Woodhead. Booked: None. Goal: None.
Referee: D. Plowright