Salford City loanee proves the difference as Hartlepool United defeat King's Lynn Town
Vanarama National League
Hartlepool United 2
King's Lynn Town 0
It proved to be a frustrating evening for King's Lynn Town as their long journey to Hartlepool United resulted in a 2-0 defeat.
Debutant Luke Armstrong was the star man for Hartlepool as he scored twice after his loan signing from Salford City was announced earlier in the day.
It is now three successive defeats for The Linnets in all competitions with forward Michael Gash's return to the starting line-up after his recovery from a long-term illness the main reason for optimism.
Tai Fleming, Sonny Carey and Adam Marriott also came into the starting eleven as Lynn played Hartlepool for the first time in their history at Victoria Park.
It was almost a disastrous start for Lynn after just one minute as David Ferguson's cross brushed the bar after a short free-kick for Hartlepool, who came into the game two places above the Norfolk side in the league table.
There were strong calls for a Lynn penalty after Marriott was brought down by Timi Odusina on the left side of the box, but the referee waved play on. Lynn captain Michael Clunan made his feelings clear to the official moments later after his side were denied a spot kick.
An early towering header from Gash showed that his physical presence was being sought as an outlet for Ian Culverhouse's side, but it was Armstrong who gave Hartlepool the lead after 22 minutes.
The 24-year-old forward followed up a decent low save from Mair to finish into an empty goal from close range.
And having opened the scoring, Dave Challinor's side were happy to allow Lynn possession in their own half as the visitors failed to penetrate Hartlepool's pressing for large spells of the first half.
Lynn's first big chance arrived after 41 minutes as Marriott found space just inside the box before seeing his low left-footed strike saved for a corner.
Hartlepool proceeded to double their lead after 51 minutes as Armstrong poked the ball in from close range after a low cross into the six-yard box by Lewis Cass.
The forward had the ball in the net again moments later but he was denied a debut hat-trick after the referee had blown for a handball.
After Culverhouse gambled by making all three of his changes at once after 58 minutes, Lynn were indebted to Mair for keeping them in the contest as the young keeper pulled off a fantastic save to somehow deny Mark Shelton with 63 minutes on the clock.
A frustrating evening was summed up as Marriott inexplicably missed the target with the goal gaping after substitute Jamar Loza had squared the ball into his path inside the box on 73 minutes.
Despite eight minutes of stoppage time, mainly due to an injury to a linesman, Lynn were unable to find the net as Culverhouse's side have now shipped 12 goals in three games.
Lynn will now turn their attention to a tricky encounter on Saturday in front of a restricted crowd at The Walks as they host the league leaders Torquay United.
Speaking after the game, Lynn's captain Clunan told Radio Norfolk: "We have got to learn. We are not learning from our mistakes at the minute. I think they probably had three shots all night, they were clinical with their two chances they took.
"It was another tough night but we have got to move on again. The gameplan was to stay in the game, obviously 1-0 there was no need to panic. We knew our chance would come. Obviously Marriott has missed an unlike chance for him. If that goes in the back of the net it could have been a different game but that is the difference at the minute in both boxes. We are not clinical enough in their final third."
King's Lynn: Mair, Brown (Loza 58), Callan-McFadden, Smith, Fleming, Barrows, Clunan (C), Carey (Power 58), Richards, Gash (Mitchell 58), Marriott. Subs not used: Jarvis, Southwell
Hartlepool: Killip, Cass, Ferguson, Odusina, Johnson, Shelton, Featherstone (C), Holohan, Oates (Bunney 70), Grey (Molyneux 73), Armstrong (Bloomfield 89). Subs not used: Ofosu, Donaldson