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By GAVIN CANEY
, Sports Reporter
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Ace marksman Russell Dunkey made it one competitive goal in one start as King’s Lynn Town began life in the Evo-Stik Division One South with a victory.
Dunkley’s cool 66th-minute finish was enough to see the Linnets edge out Chasetown following an improved second-half display which helped clinch a morale-boosting victory on a sweltering afternoon at The Walks.
Gary Setchell’s side were hoping for a bright start to life in the Northern League after gaining promotion, via the back-door last season. Chasetown - famous for being the lowest-ranked team to reach the FA Cup Third Round - were also looking for an encouraging opening to their Step Four campaign after being relegated last term.
So it was no surprise that the game began in a typical season-opening million miles per hour pace with both sides desperately trying to get hold of the ball.
Both sides gave it away at will as opposing players hustled and harried with only Nick Wellecomme managing a shot on target in the opening 10 minutes. With players keen to fake on fluids at every opportunity, such was the searing heat of the hot August afternoon, every break in play was welcomed.
But the visiting Scholars weren’t as pleased with the next interruption when Dan Quigley’s crunching late tackle forced Jack Farmer to leave the field of play through injury.
It was Chasetown who fashioned the next chance when Wellecomme’s clever reverse ball found Gary Hay who had sprung a high offside trap. He cut inside from the left and forced Linnets’ keeper Alex Street into a routine save.
Setchell’s side started to show some encouraging signs, especially with Dunkley winning plenty of flick-ons. But it was Craig Harris’ Chasetown who nearly scored again in the 25th minute when Ross Watson stopped to claim offside and Wellecomme continued - only to fire wide thanks to Street’s lightning-quick attempts to close him down.
As the men in blue’s confidence began to grow, the Linnets appeared to drop deeper and deeper. They were starting to look second best.
However, some intelligent link-up play from Watson and Jamie Forshaw, followed by a long-range attempt from left-back Jordan Yong, seemed to settle some nerves.
And as the hosts enjoyed their best spell of the half, Quigley strode through the Chasetown back-line only to see his cross deflected wide. Minutes later, Forshaw, linking up well with Jordan Yong again, did the same but his centre failed to find a yellow shirt.
Jason Turner then missed Lynn’s best chance of the half when he latched onto a ball down the Scholars’ inside-right channel and fizzed his effort across goal.
Two chances quickly followed down the same side - but at the other end - with Simon Brown and the lively Wellecomme spurning opportunities for the Staffordshire outfit.
With the end-to-end play showing no signs of slowing, Jamie Thurlbourne then skewed an effort wide following good play between former Buckby pair Quigley and Dunkley.
With the score goalless at the break, both sides would have been fairly pleased with their opening 45 minutes. Chasetown had started the better with Lynn growing into the game.
And it was Setchell’s side who took that ascendency into the second half with Thurlbourne forcing a decent, if not slightly comfortable, save from Ryan Price.
Rock-solid centre-back Phil Gulliver, who barely missed a header at the heart of his side’s defence all afternoon, went close with a header before substitute Steve Spriggs and marauding left-back Yong fashioned another opening.
With Thurlbourne getting hold of the ball more, Lynn’s superiority began to grow - even if Chasetown continued to look strong at the back with captain Richard Teesdale marshalling the visitors’ back four superbly.
However, a defence-splitting pass from Watson caught Teesdale and his back-line all out of position and Dunkley showed incredible composure to stride through and slot the ball home.
And it nearly got better when Spriggs, who posed problems with his pace and directness after coming on, almost charged down a short back-pass from Matt Johnson to score before he went close again with a long-range effort following fine hold-up play from Dunkley.
Enjoying more possession, and posing a bigger threat going forward, Setchell’s troops looked destined to get a second. They would have done in the 75th minute had Chris Slater not made an outstanding last-ditch tackle on Dunkley with Lynn’s frontman poised to pull the trigger.
With Ryan Fryatt and Gulliver dealing with Wellecomme and company much better in the second half, the Linnets managed to see out the game without any serious scares - bar one little scramble and a unchallenged Wellecomme header.
Gulliver capped his heroic display with an outstanding block five minutes from time as Chasetown’s impressive number nine looked set to equalise.
And just as it seemed Lynn had done enough, Street made a fine save from Hay’s header to secure three big points and a promising clean sheet in their Step Four opener.
• Lynn: Street, Watson, Gulliver, Fryatt, Yong, Bunting, Quigley, Thurlbourne (Hughes, 73), Turner (Spriggs, 55), Forshaw (Beaumont, 68), Dunkley
• Sub not used: Buhlemann
• Goal: Dunkley (66)
• Chasetown: Price, Farmer (Johnson, 14), Teesdale, Slater, Branch, Westwood, Bate, Downes (Saunders, 61), Brown (Sullivan, 74), Wellecomme, Hay
• Subs not used: Sullivan, Evans
• Booked: Slater
• Referee: A. Park
• Attendance: 599