Town suffer first defeat at new leaders

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Ben Stephens scored Town's goal at King's Lynn. Photo: Steve Wood

FOOTBALL

King’s Lynn Town 4
Stratford Town 1
Southern Premier

Report by Bryan Hale

STRATFORD’S unbeaten start to the season went west in East Anglia as King’s Lynn powered to the top of the Premier Division table with a convincing success.
The Linnets were three up at the break as they controlled the game straight from the kick-off, and although Carl Adams’ side pulled one back through a Ben Stephens penalty a fourth Linnets goal emphasised their superiority.
Stratford almost found themselves one down in the opening 20 seconds when Ryan Hawkins cut in from the left to hit a fierce effort which was beaten away by keeper Louis Connor, with Craig Parker hitting the rebound narrowly wide.
Five minutes later, a Cameron Norman cross from the right was headed inches over by Parker, and as the Linnets had far more of the possession Tom Ward was equally close with a header from Mike Clunan’s free-kick.
Stratford’s Mike Taylor wasn’t far away with a decent attempt from distance on the 20-minute mark before the Linnets went ahead in the 25th minute when another Clunan free-kick was met with a bullet header at the far post by Mike Gash.
The Linnets then doubled their lead on 37 minutes when Norman was brought down a yard inside the penalty area by Lee Thomas as he tried to work his way along the byline and Clunan blasted the spot kick past Connor with the minimum of fuss.
And it got worse for Stratford in added time at the end of the first half when Gash’s cross was turned in by Leon Mettam from ten yards out.
The Linnets continued on top after the break with both Gash and Mettam going close with headers before Stratford were given a glimmer of hope in the 68th minute when Jazz Luckie was floored by Ryan Fryatt and substitute Stephens sent keeper Alex Street the wrong way from the spot.
But any chance that Stratford may have had of getting back into the game was dashed ten minutes later when Gash crossed from the left and Mettam fired home his second and the Linnets’ fourth of a game in which they were the better side throughout.
“We were blown away by the best side we’ve faced this season,” said Adams afterwards. “And they will surely right up there as genuine title contenders.”
Town will look to bounce back on Tuesday when they visit Hereford.

KING’S LYNN: Street, Norman, Blake-Tracey, Fryatt, Ward, Jarvis, Clunan (c), Parker (Gaughran 79) Gash (Siddons 80), Mettam (Gillies 80), Hawkins, Subs: Hilliard, Whayman.
STRATFORD: Connor, Summerfield, Thomas, Gallinagh, Recci, Francis (Clark 54), Grocott, Fry (c), Taylor (Stephens 62), Luckie, Ahenkorah (Marsden 62), Subs: Evans, Hancocks.