Rival boss predicts promotion as King’s Lynn Town make a winning start

Michael Clunan, right, celebrates after converting the penalty kick. Photo: Tim Smith.
Michael Clunan, right, celebrates after converting the penalty kick. Photo: Tim Smith.

Southern League
Premier Division

King’s Lynn Town 2
Gosport Borough 0

Cameron Norman. Photo: Tim Smith.

Cameron Norman. Photo: Tim Smith.

Alex Pike watched King’s Lynn Town blow away his Gosport Borough side on the opening day of the campaign – and immediately predicted a top-five finish for The Walks outfit.

The Linnets took just 180 seconds to get their season up and running thanks to a Michael Clunan penalty and never looked back as they turned on the style during a mouth-watering first 45 minutes.

Craig Parker doubled Lynn’s advantage six minutes before the interval and the final damage could have been so much worse had summer signing Michael Gash not had two goals chalked out during a one-sided first half.

Pike, who has been in charge for 12 years at Gosport, had nothing but admiration for Lynn, saying: “I would expect King’s Lynn to be in the top five and also to be promoted.

Michael Gash has a second goal disallowed. Photo: Tim Smith.

Michael Gash has a second goal disallowed. Photo: Tim Smith.

“That’s not me trying to put pressure on anyone, they’ve got a great stadium here, a fantastic manager and a good chairman so good luck to them.

“What I’ve learnt about in football is that it’s about giving the manager the right tools to do the job.

“If you’ve got a chairman who is prepared to do that and give the manager what he needs then it makes a massive difference.

“You only had to look at the two teams when they lined up. King’s Lynn have got what you’d call proper, experienced players that a good budget buys you.

Leon Mettam. Photo: Tim Smith.

Leon Mettam. Photo: Tim Smith.

“To be fair you can set and organise your teams how you want, but when you’ve got young players, not only in football but also in life, you get what you pay for.”

Lynn, with five players making their Southern League debuts for the club, got off to the best possible start.

Ryan Hawkins was grounded in the opening minute and Clunan made no mistake from the spot despite visiting goalkeeper Sam Grey guessing the right way.

The Linnets continued to create chances, Hawkins shooting straight at Grey before the impressive Cameron Norman set up a rejuvenated Leon Mettam, who forced Grey into a point-blank save.

Craig Parker surrounded by Gosport players. Photo: Tim Smith

Craig Parker surrounded by Gosport players. Photo: Tim Smith

Lynn then had the ball in the net twice through Michael Gash but both were ruled out, the first for offside and the second because his hand was adjudged to have guided the ball home, for which the frontman was harshly booked.

A Clunan free-kick was narrowly headed wide by Gash but on 39 minutes Lynn deservedly doubled their lead when Norman’s mazy solo run ended with a cross which left Craig Parker with a tap-in.

Gosport set out to stem the flow of Lynn’s full-backs at the start of the second period and, although they improved after the restart, they were never really on top at any stage of the match.

The closest either team came to scoring in the second half was when Alex Street pulled off a smart save to deny Aaron Dawson.

Lynn: Street, Norman, Blake-Tracy, Gaughran, Fryatt, Jarvis, Clunan, Parker, Gash (Hilliard 75), Mettam (Siddons 75). Hawkins (Warburton 80). Subs not used: Ward and Whayman.

Booked: Gash.

Scorers: Clunan (pen) 2 mins, Parker 39.

Gosport: Grey, Saidy (Breed 74), Leigh, Dawson, Medway, McCarthy, Buse, Roach, Przespolewki, Mitford (Smith 74), Vine (Granger 46). Subs not used: Lis and Kimber.

Attendance: 827.

Lynn News man-of-the-match: Cameron Norman.