Southern League Premier Division: King’s Lynn Town 3 Bedworth United 0
- Credit: Ian Burt
Lynn moved into the play-offs for the first time this season as they heaped more misery on relegation-threatened Bedworth.
The Linnets' charge for the top five gathered momentum as they leapfrogged the inactive Dunstable and Hungerford – who were beaten at Hitchin – to reach their highest position of the season, fifth, with another Walks win.
It's now just one defeat in nine for Lynn, who needed to be patient to see off a dogged United who remain in the bottom four. More impressively, Town also have the luxury of a three-point cushion as their momentum shows no sign of slowing.
Jacek Zielonka's second goal of the season in the first half opened the scoring and owed everything to Denham Hinds. The keeper let the Polish player's shot straight through his legs and from there on in it never looked like the Warwickshire club would recover.
Substitute Toby Hilliard made it two in the final quarter before skipper Ryan Fryatt put the icing on the cake of a triumph which raises hopes that this young Town side can reach the end-of-season shoot-out for promotion.
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Gary Setchell was forced into making one change ahead of the game with Lee Stevenson's ban for the red card he picked up during his side's last home game against Redditch United kicking in. The omissions of Liam Fryatt and Sam Gaughran – who also started Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Stratford Town – were not enforced however with the trio's places being taken by Michael Clunan, Sam Mulready and midweek goalscorer Jack Friend.
In-form Lynn flew out of the traps with Kern Miller's glorious header from Clunan's early corner being cleared off the line by Andrew Westwood.
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As the pitch stated to cut up, both teams struggled to escape the scrappiness. But it was Lynn who started to make waves with Friend working Hinds from the angle at the end of a flowing move involving Lee Smith, Zielonka and Liam Hurst.
Setchell's men did at least keep trying to move the ball through the bog with Zielonka's poor control letting him down after Clunan had clipped a lovely ball around the corner. Hurst then tore down the right flank and stood up a great delivery only for the head of Richard Bryan to take the ball away from the waiting home combination of Zielonka and Friend.
United continued to do their utmost to break up play, forcing the hosts to try their luck from distance. Jordan Yong fired at goal from 30 yards but the full-back's effort caused more trouble to the smattering of supporters behind the goal than it did the Greenbacks' shot-stopper.
In truth it probably was a good job for the strugglers that the defender's shot was so far off target as their keeper made a real hash of the next effort to gift Lynn the lead. Zielonka's attempt was hardly scuffed but it should have been gathered with ease – which it wasn't and the ball almost apologetically trickled over the line.
That Bedworth embarrassment turned to rage with five minutes of the opening period to go when Miller hauled down the goalbound Jordan Archer. As the visiting players surrounded referee Chris Francis, he decided to only book the centre-back with his colleague Matthew Castellan's presence presumably negating irate claims Miller was the last defender.
That anger barely had time to simmer as the half-time whistle blew with Zielonka and Castellan – who saw his header hooked off the line by Westwood – spurning opportunities to double their team's lead in the remaining moments.
After the restart, Mulready and substitute Hilliard wasted decent sighters as the hosts' control continued to grow.
Hurst then clipped the top of the crossbar with a glorious effort on his weaker left side after Smith's forward foray had been halted.
The decisive second arrived with 15 minutes to go and it owed almost everything to another arrival to the game, Gaughran. The centre-back – being used once again as a holding midfielder – clipped a lovey ball in the channel to free Hurst. The wideman squared for Hilliard and he showed great composure to do the rest.
Hilliard would have quickly made it three had Zielonka opted to play him in, after being picked out by Gaughran, rather than shoot.
It didn't matter though as Ryan Fryatt soon headed home Clunan's corner to wrap up what was, in the end, another convincing victory.
The clean sheet Miller and Castellan's efforts at the heart of the home defence deserved almost went up in smoke in injury time. However, Aron Wint's superb header flashed just wide of the post as Bedworth failed to net an undeserved consolation and Alex Street, in his 250th Lynn appearance, walked off having overseen Lynn's fourth shut-out in six matches.
Lynn (4-1-3-2): Street, R Fryatt, Miller, Castellan, Yong, Clunan, Hurst (Edge, 83), Smith, Friend (Hilliard, 56), Zielonka, Mulready (Gaughran, 74). Sub not used: L Fryatt. Booked: Miller. Goals: Zielonka (33), Hilliard (75), R Fryatt (82)
Bedworth (4-4-1-1): Hinds, Cartwright, Rowe, Westwood, Haines, Bryan, Marsden (Gould, 76), Parrott, Archer (Christie, 46), Dubidat, Creaney (Wint, 66). Sub not used: Mohammed. Booked: Rowe. Goal: None.
Referee: Chris Francis
* See Monday's paper for more reaction from this afternoon's action.