Photo gallery: Evo-Stik Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 0, Skelmersdale United 3
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Hat-trick hero Danny Mitchley was too hot to handle for Lynn as the league leaders breezed to victory at The Walks.
The striker's superb seventh-minute bending effort that found the net via the inside of the post was the start of a day he'll always remember in Norfolk. A second from the penalty spot soon followed – and the hosts never looked like offering any serious sort of fightback from then on in – even if the award of it was hugely controversial.
While Henry Eze should never have been caught trying to usher the ball out of play, Connor McCarthy's subsequent tumble looked theatrical. Yet it still convinced Josh Smith to point to the spot and the number nine never looked like missing.
Mitchley completed his treble after the break with an excellent first-time finish and in truth he could have netted even more as the mid-table hosts slipped to a fifth home league defeat of what is in danger of becoming a disappointing season.
Gary Setchell had hoped the midweek loan signing of last season's top scorer Leon Mettam was going to give his charges a timely boost ahead of facing a side that arrived 11 places above them in the standings.
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The visitors have played more games than anyone in the Northern Premier League though and have started the new year slowly by their impressive early-season standards losing two of their three matches. So Lynn were looking to capitalise on their mini blip and spark a push for promotion of their own, via the play-offs.
Jackson Ramm and Michael Frew had to miss out through suspension while David Bell and Jake Jones were sidelined with injuries. But the return of no-longer-banned midfielder Dan Quigley provided something of a relief, as well as the addition of the 2013-14 goal machine.
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The bright start the home manager was seeking almost arrived inside 60 seconds when captain-for-the-day David Bridges' cut back just evaded the head of the incoming George Thomson at the back post. The lightning-quick opening continued as McCarthy's trickery helped release Mitchley but Eze stopped him in his tracks.
Just a couple of minutes later the table-toppers pounced on the counter to devastating effect to take the lead. Steve Spriggs' corner was caught and fired forward quickly by keeper Steven James. Ben Tollitt drove at the heart of what backline was there and played in Mitchley who had acress of space down the right and picked his spot delightfully.
Bridges had a decent header saved yet the wind was taken right out of his troops' sails when the man in the middle pointed to the spot as Skem sparked another raid forward. The boos said it all about how the fans viewed the decision but it mattered little as Mitchley cooly doubled his and the account of the title-hopefuls.
It was soon nearly three when Alex Street, who seemed to take more of his own defender Ross Watson – substituted due to injury minutes later – than the ball and failed to clear his lines sufficiently. McCarthy span quickly to regain the attacking impetus yet his chipped effort was cleared off the line by alert defender Ryan Fryatt who had sensed the danger.
Mettam, despite his lack of game time through injury at Tamworth, looked sharp. His good touch, movement and deliveries produced sighters for Bridges and Gregg Smith but they couldn't haul Lynn back into things. And the new man was unable to be presented with an opportunity himself as Setchell's side went in two goals behind at the interval.
A sublime save from Street less than a minute after the restart kept the Linnets in it and robbed United's impressive two-goal striker of an even better treble.
It sparked some fresh impetus for the players in blue and gold as they surged forward looking to force a comeback. A clever move involving Thomson and Bridges would have paid off had Robert McIntosh not covered round to cut off the give-and-go.
The work in the opposing box was less impressive with frontmen McCarthy and Mitchley spurning chances to put the game to bed. The latter did just after the hour mark mind when he thumped his strike partner's delicious centre home to ensure his ownership of the match ball.
It could have got even worse had Street been punished for making a hash of his clearance. Thankfully, the usually clinical Mitchley fluffed his lines to spare the shot-stopper's blushes. He was then denied again by a combination of Eze and Street as The Walks outfit looked to prevent it from getting brutal.
Substitute Shaun Stocker's desperation to influence proceedings saw him go down in the area only to be booked for simulation. The youngster looked distraught but his team-mates offered little by way of protestation.
And that was the last time Lynn looked like netting a consolation as United cruised through the closing stages of their latest away victory without any hassle.
Lynn (4-4-2): Street, Watson (Stocker, 33), Eze, Fryatt, Yong, Spriggs (Mulready, 58), Bridges, Quigley (Biles, 71), Thomson, Mettam, Smith. Subs not used: Colman, Ward. Booked: Stocker, Mettam. Goal: None.
Skelmersdale (4-1-3-2): James, Fernandes, Holden, McIntosh, Wylie, Kirkbride (Wright, 30), Tollitt (Bakkor, 69), Burton, Mitchley (Bell, 88), McCarthy, Strickland. Subs not used: Mooney, Meaney. Booked: None. Goals: Mitchley (7, pen 22, 63)
Referee: J. Smith