King’s Lynn Town 1 Hitchin Town 2
As King’s Lynn Town kicked off their crucial Southern League clash at home to Hitchin Town, there were nearly many people outside the ground as were in it.
A backlog of frustrated supporters were still queuing to get into the Walks Stadium as the new ticketing system in place at the club again caused problems.
Perhaps their only regret on the night was missing Ben Walster’s early strike for the Canaries.
Walster’s stunning half-volley in the seventh minute - a clear contender for goal of the season - was worth the admission money alone on another night to forget for Linnets fans.
Unfortunately for home fans who did eventually make it in to the ground, they were witness to Hitchin’s second goal early in the second period.
Just a few days before Halloween, it had horror written all over it after Dan Quigley’s attempted pass to Alex Street was intercepted for a gift of goal for Matt Lench.
Lynn did reduce the arrears from a Michael Clunan penalty but once again they were made to pay for another slow start in front of their home faithful.
The Walks outfit were barely able to get out of their own half in the first eight minutes as Hitchin bossed the opening exchanges.
Lynn were given an early scare when Alex Street was at full-stretch to keep out Lucas Kirkpatrick’s 30-yard free-kick in the fourth minute.
It was a warning that was not heeded when the Canaries took the lead three minutes later.
There looked little danger after the ball was cleared away from danger until Walster unleashed a dipping half-volley past Street on the edge of the box.
Hitchin continued to ooze confidence with Robbie Burns glancing wide before Street was called into action soon after with an instinctive save to foil the same player.
It took 26 minutes for Lynn to threaten the Hitchin goal but debutant Warburton’s effort was high and wide of the target.
Their best spell of the first half came towards the break when they forced four corners in quick succession with Sam Gaughran coming close to equalising with a header from the last.
Lynn, with two half-time substitutions, started the second half brightly and had claims for a penalty turned down after Leon Mettam was upended.
Their good work was undone on 58 minutes through Quigley’s howler and it was harsh on the no-nonsense Northampton-based player who, otherwise, has been largely magnificent for Lynn this season.
The Linnets were eventually awarded a penalty when visiting goalkeeper Michael Johnson clumsily upended Mettam and Clunan made no mistake from the spot.
Minutes later, the scores could have been level when Lee Stevenson’s howitzer of a free-kick looked destined for the back of the net before hitting Jacek Zielonka, who was two yards from the line, in the back of the head.
Further chances fell to the hosts with Stevenson blasting wide from an acute angle and missing again with seconds remaining.
It was another rousing finale from Lynn but once again they fell short and were left without a win from their last eight matches.
King’s Lynn Town: Street, Emmington (Hilliard 46), Yong, Gaughran, Quigley, Warburton, M. Clunan, Stevenson, Zielonka, Mettam, Revan (McWilliams 46). Subs not used: McQuaid, Edge, Pearson.
Scorer: Clunan 72.
Booked: Emmington, Gaughran
Hitchin: Johnson, Wright, Walster, Bickerstaff, Webb, Rolfe (Clarke 88), Smith, C. Donnelly (B. Donnelly 83), Kirkpatrick, Burns, Lench. Subs not used: Ann, Verney and Brooks.
Scorers: Walster 7, Lench 58.
Referee: Paul Quick (Stowmarket).