It's M for Merthyr for ailing Linnets
King's Lynn 0, Merthyr Tydfil 3: Lynn need a fast-acting hangover cure to prevent the club's Southern League Premier Division promotion push going into reverse.
King's Lynn 0, Merthyr Tydfil 3
Lynn need a fast-acting hangover cure to prevent the club's Southern League Premier Division promotion push going into reverse.
Losing to champions-elect Salisbury is one thing, but finishing second best to a Merthyr outfit hammered 4-1 by bottom club Chesham the previous week should set alarm bells ringing within Tommy Taylor's squad.
The Linnets drew a blank at home for the first time in nearly eight months. Perhaps far more worryingly they leaked three at the other end again - Gary Shephard's double salvo and Paul Keddle's spectacular half volley completing a miserable week.
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Forget accumulating points for a title push, on current form Lynn must be thankful they already have enough deposited for a play-off place.
Bath's defeat at Cheshunt and Chippenham's goalless draw at Rugby ensured no ground was lost in the race for second spot and home advantage in those end-of-season play-offs. Lynn trail current occupants Bath by a point with Chippenham a further point adrift.
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Salisbury's stroll against Hitchin means the Whites need just seven points from their five remaining matches to clinch the championship.
In the absence of a magic wand, Taylor looks set to put his faith in hard graft.
“Am I worried? Not at all. We've just got to get back on the bike and start pedalling again,” he said. “I told the boys before kick-off we can't afford to finish any lower than second and with the other results that hasn't changed.
“We'll have two training sessions this week for the first time in a while and I'll be running the legs off them. It'll be hard work and more hard work. The heads are on the floor right now in the dressing room. They just need reminding what got us into this position because we don't want to throw it away.
“We've been around the top for a long time and you don't get there playing poorly. The boys have conceded six in two matches so if people want to say we are a bad team that's up to them.
“It doesn't matter whether you play Salisbury or Merthyr, when you give the ball away in the wrong areas expect to be punished. I think all six goals we've let in were avoidable. From being very solid, we are suddenly giving away goals because we are losing the ball cheaply.”
Central defender Grant Cooper made a welcome return after missing the midweek defeat against Salisbury with a hamstring problem. The excellent Adam Smith crashed a 30-yarder against the outside of Ashley Morris' far post before Matt Nolan's audacious strike from just inside the Merthyr half had Morris scrambling.
Lynn's fragile confidence following that midweek mauling against Salisbury was shattered again on 13 minutes - Arron Benstead spilling Mike Fowler's piledriver at the feet of Shephard who slotted the gift from six yards.
For the rest of the half the men in blue and gold played like 11 strangers, or 12 to be accurate - John Higgs replacing Benstead after the keeper departed with a lower back problem.
Higgs was out bravely to foil Shephard after strike partner Craig Moses had left Cooper flailing with a neat swivel on the sandy surface.
The big centre back sidefooted a yard wide on the restart then Smith lobbed over from Jack Defty's slide rule pass.
Shephard went close to a second on 54 minutes, rising superbly six yards out to direct Steve Williams' pinpoint cross just beyond Higgs' far post.
Morris clutched Smith's rising 25-yarder underneath his own bar before the same duo went head-to-head again from Cedric Anselin's sharp free-kick - Morris grasping Smith's cross-cum-shot on his line.
The assistant's offside flag cut short Lee Charles' celebrations after the Lynn substitute had applied a point blank touch to Nolan's angled strike.
Merthyr's two-goal burst inside 60 seconds killed any hopes of a late home rally. Stephen Harvey's hopeful punt was returned with interest for Shephard to race clear and outmuscle the left back before despatching past Higgs from 12 yards.
Kettle settled the contest with a speculative left footer that flew into the top corner.
King's Lynn: Benstead (Higgs 20), West, Smith, Harvey, Cooper (Peters 65), Camm, Defty, Anselin, Nolan, Carey, O'Halloran (Charles 59). Subs not used: Hyde, Hammond.
Merthyr: Morris, S Williams (Jones 59), Keddle, Lewis, Wharton, Welsh, Thomas, Fowler (D Williams 57), Shephard, Moses, Diamond. Subs not used: Chappell, Owens, Jones. Goals: Shephard (13, 76), Keddle (77). Booking: Thomas.
Referee: A Sannerude (Suffolk).