KING’S LYNN 0, STOCKPORT COUNTY 3
Stockport County posted a seventh straight National League victory at Kings Lynn to move 10 points clear at the top of the table.
The Hatters, on their travels for the first of two successive long-distance away-assignments, had an impressive three-goal triumph at relegation-threatened King’s Lynn.
First-half goals from Elliot Newby and returning captain Liam Hogan put County in control, and leading scorer Paddy Madden added a third around the hour mark and immediately after the hosts had been reduced to 10 men.
The Hatters took to the field on a balmy spring evening in North Norfolk, showing four changes from the starting line-up at Edgeley Park against Wealdstone three days earlier. Hogan, Newby, Sam Minihan and Scott Quigley were recalled, replacing Ollie Crankshaw, Myles Hippolyte, Antoni Sarcevivc, all of whom were named among the substitutes, and the injured Macauley Southam-Hales.
Immediately following kick-off, the hosting ‘Linnets’ launched an attack which culminated in skipper Michael Clunan going to ground in the box only for referee Tom Kirk to wave away any thoughts of an early penalty. And at the other end, a couple of minutes in, a patient County build-up on the left eventually found Quigley who dragged his shot wide of the near upright.
Ten minutes or so later, Minihan struck a ferocious half-volley that home goalkeeper Paul Jones did well to parry. And the right wing-back then turned provider in teeing up Quigley, whose lofted effort landed on the top netting.
The hosts’ cause was not helped when, after only a quarter of an hour, they lost the services of Malachi Linton, whose brace had set them up for a three-goal win at Aldershot at the weekend.
In the meantime, the Hatters’ momentum was building – and with 17 minutes played, they took the lead. Minihan was involved again, crossing from the right for Mark Kitching to volley across the six-yard box from beyond the far post, before Newby applied the finishing touch from close range.
Jones tipped behind another Minihan shot, before County netted a second just before the half-hour as a Newby corner from the right was headed by Hogan into the far top corner.
Gold Omotayo headed wide from a corner, as the Linnets strove to reduce the arrears, although County continued to enjoy the greater shares of possession and chances, with Ryan Johnson clearing the crossbar with a volley, and Madden turning a shot beyond the right post.
A County break six minutes after the resumption saw Quigley drive his low shot wide of the right post. A second, similar attack on the hour resulted in a foul on the striker when he was through on goal and a straight red card for Aaron Jones and a third goal for the Hatters as Madden drove home the resulting free kick from inside the ‘D’.
The Hatters introduced Jordan Keane, Sarcevic and Crankshaw by way of a triple substitution shortly after going three-up, although the contest’s next chance of note fell to the hosts, when Omotayo squared from the left to Joshua Barrett whose shot was blocked by Hogan.
Kitching cut in from the left before unleashing a shot that was comfortably smothered by Jones, and Keane drilled wide of the left post, before Barrett again went close to grabbing a consolation goal courtesy of a free kick that stung the hands of Ben Hinchliffe.
But victory was assured. And as the Hatters set off home happily on the long and winding non-motorway route from East Anglia, spirits were boosted further by results elsewhere on the night which saw their lead at the top of the table extend to 10 points.
Stockport County (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan, Palmer, Johnson; Minihan, Collar (Sarcevic 65), Croasdale (Crankshaw 65), Kitching; Newby; Quigley, Madden (Keane 65). Subs (not used): Ashby-Hammond, Hippolyte.
Goals: Newby (17), Hogan (29) and Madden (61) for Stockport County,
Attendance: 914 (274 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans.