Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Hednesford Town

King's Lynn

Hudson (1), Evans (90)

(0) 0

(1) 2



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Neil Davis



Stafford Rangers (A) 27.8.01

A goal in the very first minute and one in the last minute of the game condemned the Pitmen to a third successive defeat of the season, leaving them joint bottom of the Dr. Martens League this afternoon following another game to forget for Paul Raynor's new-look side against King's Lynn


Monday night's derby defeat to Tamworth had given player/manager Raynor something to think about after an improved performance from his side compared to their opening day defeat at Crawley Town. Raynor made two change from Monday's team, with striker Graham Lancashire handed a full debut as he replaced Stewart Airdrie and Stuart Lake coming in for Lenny Curtis in defence. Raynor once again resisted the temptation to drop himself from the line-up, despite having midfielder Paul Bagshaw fit again after missing a chunk of pre-season injured


King's Lynn had started the season well with an opening day win over Newport County and a goalless draw in midweek against Hinckley United, leaving the Linnets lying in seventh place going into today's clash at Keys Park. There was only one change to the side that had started at Hinckley, with midfielder Louis Evans coming into the side in place of Adie Hayes as Tony Spearing's side looked to continue their unbeaten start to the new season


And what a start they made, as the Pitmen were once again made to pay for a slow start to the game with the quickest goal of the season yet; Jason Minett's quick break down the left caught Wayne Simpson out, with the winger sending over a fine cross that was headed into the Hednesford net by Lee Hudson, who had drifted unmarked into the six-yard box. The worst possible start for the Pitmen, in front of an alarmingly small crowd just three games into the new season

With three strikers on the pitch, Hednesford went looking for an immediate response as they went long in their approach to the game to utilise the height of Kevin Francis. A deep ball into the King's Lynn box from Wayne Simpson in the eighth minute saw Francis nod the ball down to Neil Davis, whose subsequent pass was just too strong for the incoming Lancashire

Val Owen did well to win the ball in midfield for the hosts on twelve minutes, robbing Evans of the ball and playing Francis in behind the Lynn defence. Francis held the ball up well and waited for reinforcements before passing to Dean Craven, whose deep cross from the left was headed behind by Lancashire

A free-kick from Raynor tested Linnets keeper Steve Wilson on fourteen minutes as the Pitmen's player/manager struck a powerful shot from range that Wilson turned over his crossbar

Stuart Lake received the first of what was to be two bookings in the game on twenty-one minutes for a foul on Evans before Hudson linked up well with Zeke Rowe to play in Jason Minett two minutes later. Mark Gayle was alert to the danger and smothered the ball down at the feet of the forward as he broke through the Hednesford backline

The Pitmen were struggling to create any real clear-cut openings against a side that appeared content to soak up the Pitmen's limited pressure and break in numbers when possible, with the likes of Minett and Rowe threatening with their pace and willingness to chase long balls forward

Rowe's trickery saw him escape the attentions of Simpson on twenty-nine minutes, drifting inside the full-back with a change of pace. He sidestepped a half-hearted challenge from Owen but struck a shot wildly over the crossbar and into the Heath Hayes end

Linnets skipper Dave Robinson headed into the crowd behind Gayle's goal on thirty-three minutes after rising highest to meet an inswinging corner kick from Evans

A driving run from Raynor created a pocket of space for Davis five minutes later as the King's Lynn defence retreated to the edge of their penalty area to allow the veteran former Linnet to push on and play the ball to Davis. The striker's instinctive shot looked to be curling into the top corner of the net but drifted just wide of the angle of post and crossbar

A strong run from Lyndon Rowland was checked by Craven on thirty-nine minutes, earning the midfielder a booking for his sins. Evans took the resultant free-kick and sent over a fine angled cross that both Hudson and Robinson were just too far away from meeting

In first-half added time, Francis's presence inside the King's Lynn penalty area saw him bring the ball down and shrug off a challenge from Jamie March. With the ball still not under his control, the visitors managed to snuff out the danger before the big man could get the ball out of his feet

A header from Lake early on in the second half was well held by Wilson following a Craven corner kick, followed three minutes later by a snap-shot from Davis that was two or three yards wide of goal

Lancashire was also unlucky a minute later as the Pitmen pressed, lifting a well-struck shot inches over the crossbar after he had done well to find a pocket of space

The Pitmen's bright start to the second half was checked however on fifty-three minutes, as Lake's challenge on Rowland was deemed a bookable offence by the referee, despite a feeling amongst the Hednesford players and management that Rowland was play-acting slightly. Lake was shown a second yellow and subsequent red card for his actions, leaving the home side with even more to do to get back into the game

Stung by the sending-off, the Pitmen played some neat football through midfield on fifty-six minutes with Raynor threading a fine through-ball into the path of Lancashire. The striker's quick turn upended Robinson just inside his penalty area, handing him time and space to line up a shot that caused Wilson to make a save

This was to be Lancashire's final involvement in the game, as he was replaced by Airdrie on the hour mark as the Pitmen changed formation by adding a wide player to the game

Airdrie was quickly into the action, making a weaving run down the left-wing on sixty-four minutes that saw him beat Simon Dakin with relative ease and cross low into the King's Lynn penalty area. Davis arrived to meet the cross, but was put off by Robinson's late challenge and only succeeded to poke the ball wide

Five minutes later, assistant manager Gavan Walker brought on his second substitute of the afternoon by handing Bagshaw his first game of the season as a replacement for the out-of-luck Davis

With two wingers now on the pitch, Hednesford started to play a far more expansive game as they sent over crosses towards the giant frame of 6ft 7" Francis at will. The big man nodded down an Airdrie cross on seventy-five minutes, but without the instincts of Davis or Lancashire on the pitch anymore, the chance was gone

Bagshaw was left frustrated on his return to the side as the game entered the final ten minutes as he got on the end of a fine cross from Airdrie on eighty-three minutes, only for Wilson to make a save with his legs to divert Bagshaw's low shot away from goal

The hosts started to become a little desperate in their attempts to find a leveller, with Bagshaw's free-kick on eighty-seven minutes dropping in the King's Lynn six-yard box and causing pinball between the two sides. No-one in white could force the ball home from close-range, with the excellent Robinson finally clearing his lines

As the game moved into the last minute, Bagshaw cleverly played Francis in on goal, only for the ex-Birmingham striker to blast his good chance over the crossbar

From the resultant Wilson goal kick, Lynn sealed all three points with a killer second goal; the Pitmen failed to switch on to the long ball forwards, allowing Evans to latch onto a flick-on from Minett to run in unchallenged before taking the ball around Gayle and tapping into the empty net

Cue a mass exodus from the stands, with the few Hednesford fans who stayed at the end venting their early-season frustrations at Raynor and Walker following a third successive defeat that leaves them bottom of the league table. With the ominous spectre of a historic local derby against Stafford Rangers looming on Bank Holiday Monday - and a reunion with a number of ex-Hednesford players - the Pitmen could not have wished to be heading for Marston Road in any worse form


Hednesford Town: Gayle, Simpson, Lucas, Lake ▆  (53), Haran ©, Owen, Lancashire (Airdrie 60), Craven , Francis, Davis (Bagshaw 69), Raynor ▆ (Curtis 87)     Subs Unused: None


King's Lynn: Wilson‚ Dakin‚ March , Robinson ©, Fuff‚ Welsh‚ Rowland ▆ (Hayes 80)‚ Evans, Rowe, Hudson (Clarke 70),  Minett      Sub Unused: Wright