Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

King's Lynn

Clements (52)

Hednesford Town

(0) 1

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Mark Gayle



Kettering Town (H) 11.3.02

The Pitmen's recent run of good form comes to a halt this afternoon amidst a stormy afternoon at King's Lynn's Walks Stadium as the hosts give themselves a lifeline in their relegation battle by beating one of their lower-table rivals with a second-half Matty Clements goal

Hednesford were still smarting from Monday night's late, late equaliser from local rivals Stafford Rangers that had seen the Pitmen denied a third win in a row - and a first league win over Rangers in over fifty years - to lift them clear of the bottom three in the Dr.Martens Premier League. Manager Kenny Hibbitt welcomed back the experienced pair of Mark Gayle and Mark Haran after the duo had missed Monday night's game due to suspension and injury respectively, replacing Adam Jenkins and Adam Shakespeare in the process

King's Lynn had been struggling for form in recent weeks, culminating in back-to-back defeats against Worcester City and Tamworth that led to the departure of manager Tony Spearing in midweek as the Linnets continued to sink towards the bottom three in the table. Caretaker manager Kevin Boon made two changes to the side that had started last weekend against Worcester, bringing Simon Dakin and Tommy Wright back into the side in place of Steve Welsh and Paul Watts

The game was played amidst a gale-force wind blowing in from the Wash, making the ball difficult to control at times and leaving the side with the wind in their faces at a significant disadvantage. A portion of the Walks main stand also blew off during the first half to further highlight the gusty conditions the two sets of players faced

With the wind at their backs, the Linnets made a good start to the game and tried their luck with a free-kick in the fourth minute; Adie Hayes' initial shot rebounded off the Hednesford wall and dropped kindly for Dakin, whose rebounded effort took a nick off the wall once more and drifted wide for a corner kick

Centre-back Glen Fuff headed wide for the hosts three minutes later as he rose highest to meet a Clements corner kick and glanced his effort wide of Mark Gayle's goal

The returning Wright went close for the Linnets in the eleventh minute as he attempted a curling effort from twenty yards out that drifted just over the crossbar by a matter of inches

Back came the men in red as Stuart Lake exchanged passes with Derek Rae in midfield on fifteen minutes before slipping the ball into the feet of Francis, who did well to hold off the challenge of Fuff before being robbed of the ball by Martin McNeil as he shaped to shoot

Francis was involved again for the visitors on twenty minutes as his clever pass from Lake's long ball played strike partner Neil Davis in on goal. The Pitmen's top scorer took a touch before drilling a low shot just wide King's Lynn keeper Steve Wilson's near post

Four minutes later, Richard Lucas crossed from the left flank and found Francis lurking at the far post, only for the big man to head tamely wide of the target

Gayle did well to parry a low shot from Lee Hudson on twenty-eight minutes and followed this up with a fingertip save two minutes later to turn a Fuff header over the crossbar from another Clements corner kick

A mazy run from Stewart Airdrie saw the winger drift inside from the left-wing on thirty-three minutes and elect to shoot from long range, only to drive his effort into the group of Hednesford fans gathered behind the goal

Three minutes later, Airdrie was played in down the inside left position by Rae's angled pass but was denied a clear shooting opportunity by a covering tackle from Fuff

Zeke Rowe tried to take advantage of the gusty conditions for the hosts on forty minutes as he picked up a loose ball fully thirty-five yards from goal and attempted an audacious lob that drifted just over Gayle's crossbar

In the final minute of the first period, Wilson plucked the ball out of the air on his goal line to claim a Haran header after the centre-back had flicked an Airdrie free-kick goalwards

It had been a tough first half for the visitors, who had done well to deal with the storm-force conditions in their faces and limit the home side to long range half-chances and off-target efforts


The Linnets made a half-time tactical substitution as Wayne Anderson came on for Wright in a move that saw Clements pushed further forwards to an attacking role down the right


With the wind at their backs, King's Lynn started the second half well and were denied an opener on forty-nine minutes through the leg of Haran as he managed to block Hudson's first-time shot at goal from just ten yards out

The Linnets' tactical change at the break had the desired effect as they did take the lead with what proved to be the winning goal on fifty-two minutes; Kevin White won the ball off Wayne Simpson and played the ball into the feet of Hudson, whose deft touch played Clements in on the right-hand side of the penalty area. Clements took a touch and rounded Ashley Williams before slotting home past Gayle at his near post with a well-taken finish

The Pitmen were almost on level terms again within two minutes of the restart as dangerman Airdrie picked up a loose clearance from Wilson and attempted a lob over the head of the retreating keeper from thirty yards out. However, the ball got caught in the wind and ended up drifting harmlessly over Wilson's crossbar, much to Wilson's relief

Gayle did well to read the trajectory of a long ball forwards from Jamie March on fifty-eight minutes, making a timely clearance with his boot to deny Hudson a clear shot at goal as the pair challenged for the ball on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area 

A Clements corner kick nearly curled straight into the net on sixty-one minutes, relying on Gayle to keep his eye on the ball and tip it over for another King's Lynn corner

At the other end, Wilson's arm deflected a Davis shot out for a corner kick on sixty-four minutes, from which Lake headed just over the bar as he met Airdrie's subsequent cross from six yards out

The luckless Francis - still struggling to find any form after his return to the side - wasted another good chance to level matters on sixty-eight minutes with a swing and a miss from Lucas's square ball inside the Linnets' penalty area. The ball ran kindly to Rae, whose low shot nestled in the side-netting


 Lake and Airdrie were once again proving to be the Pitmen's most effective performers and linked up again on seventy-one minutes to create space for Davis in behind the King's Lynn defence. The striker took a couple of touches before playing the ball back into the path of Simpson, only for the Pitmen's utility man to fire well wide of goal with a horribly miscued effort

Hibbitt elected to make his first change of the afternoon with fifteen minutes remaining as Francis was hauled off after another unconvincing display and replaced by Wale-Kwik Ajet up front

Gayle kept his side in contention with a fine double save on seventy-seven minutes as he firstly pushed White's long-range effort away from goal and then smothered a bouncing effort from Hayes after the ball had run kindly to the midfielder fifteen yards from goal

With twelve minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their second and final change of the game as Andy Brownrigg came on in place of Simpson at the base of the midfield 

Another error of judgement from Wilson with nine minutes remaining saw him unconvincingly clear the ball to Airdrie once more, with the winger's shot at goal once again catching the wind and allowing Wilson to tip the drifting ball onto the crossbar before March hacked the loose ball away

Ajet was denied a first Hednesford goal on eighty-five minutes as he tried to turn the ball home from close range following a corner from Lucas, but was denied the chance after the assistant on the main stand side spotted some pushing in the six-yard box

Clements had been a constant threat to the Pitmen in the second period after being moved further forwards and tested Gayle's reflexes once more with three minutes remaining as his rising shot was forced behind by Gayle for a King's Lynn corner kick

In the final minute of the game, Clements was involved again as he played White in on goal, only for Gayle to once again prove his worth to the team with another fine stop before Williams completed the clearance

The Pitmen had been second best for much of the second period and could have few complaints about the result after their hosts had got to grips with the tricky conditions and used it to their advantage well. This ends another one of the Pitmen's mini-revivals and pushes them below the Linnets in the table and back amongst the relegation-threatened sides. The games continue to come thick and fast this month as the Pitmen continue to play their games in hand over the sides around them and they play host to league leaders Kettering Town at Keys Park this Monday night looking for a performance similar to the one they produced when they earned a 1-1 draw at Rockingham Road last month

King's Lynn: Wilson, Dakin, March, McNeil, Fuff, Rowe, Clements, Hayes, White, Hudson (Clarke 89), Wright (Anderson 45)      Sub Unused: Welsh

Hednesford Town: Gayle, LakeLucas, Haran ©, WilliamsBarrow, Simpson (Brownrigg 78), Rae, Davis, Francis (Ajet 75), Airdrie     Subs Unused: Shakespeare