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King's Lynn 3 Workington 1
1st January 2004
New boy Craig Thompson won the cheers of the Linnets fans on Saturday with two timely goals in this excellent start to the new Northern Premier League season.
And he openly admitted afterwards that with more accuracy he could have secured a hat-trick on his debut.
Thompson, a busy midfield player somewhat in the mould of former Linnet David Brooks of a few years ago, was previously on Gainsborough's books and has not actually signed for the Linnets yet.
But manage Keith Rudd has been impressed with Thompson's ability to move into potential goal-scoring positions and after this example of finishing it is likely Thompson will soon be signed on.
Thompson was not the only newcomer to catch the eye.
Andy Bircumshaw at centre half is a strong partner for Richard Johnston and goalkeeper Mick Drewery made some important saves to keep the scores level at a vital stage in the second half.
David Burrows, a slightly built winger was a crowd pleaser when he was taking on and beating defenders and Freddie Easthall matched him for the last 25 minutes after coming on as substitute.
Striker Brian Skelton much experienced in NPL football and four goals in four pre-season matches, may still have to prove himself to Rudd. It was Skelton who came off in the 67th minute for Easthall (who had been feeling unwell on Friday) and this change was the turning point of the game.
Rudd said before the match that he was optimistic about the team's chances for the season and this first result goes some way to justifying his hopes.
"I said at the end of last season that we had half a dozen really good players in the squad and now we have added a new set of lads who have quality and the ability to put into practice my ideas.
"There were periods on Saturday when we looked an ordinary side, but I urged them to keep playing that ball out to the wings and build on from there and when they did that we looked a far better side.
"I think now that we have a squad of players who can match the opposition from the start whereas often in the recent years we have had local players going out and always trying to lift themselves to the level of their opponents.
"I know that we can play better than we did today but even so I think we would have still given any Alliance Premier side a hard game.
"So long as we can get the ball into the right areas and players into the penalty area we will score goals. Look at our second goal, we got to the by-line and there were three or four people who could have scored when the cross went in."
Rudd must also be hoping that his defence learns from mistakes. When Workington scored their 14th minute goal there was a yawning gap for Martin Harris after he had slipped Richard Johnston's tackle and he made use of space to go in and beat Mick Drewery.
Had Harris added a second just two minutes later then Lynn's character would have been tested, but he was off balance as he shot and the ball drifted wide.
The danger over, Lynn gained the initiative in midfield and equalised in the 33rd minute, Thompson, who had twice got on the end of previous Lynn attacks, found himself in the right position five yards out to guide home the ball when it fell to him after Paul Chapman's shot was blocked.
But the early play in the second half must have had Rudd fretting with Workington looking the more dangerous. Drewery made a fine one-handed save low down to stop Barry Diamond, then twice thwarted the lively Harris and finally was beaten by a header from John Smith which was only inches wide.
The substitution of Easthall for Skelton did the trick. He came on in the 68th minute and it was in the 72nd minute that he turned in the cross from which Ray Elliott easily nodded home.
Easthall himself turned a header into the side-netting from the next attack and in the 75th minute he took a pass from Chapman and cut inside before setting up the chance for Thompson to tap home the third goal.
Burrows continued to torment the Workington defenders and the Lynn midfield of Watts, Thompson, and Elliot took full command which left little for the Lynn defence to do; mention however should be made that Wilson, Wiles and Johnston together with Bircumshaw should become a most useful defensive unit. Lynn: Drewery, Wilson, Wiles, Bircumshaw, Johnston, Watts, Elliott, Thompson, Burrows, Skelton (Sub Easthall 68 mins), Chapman.
Workington: Fisher, Hill (sub Hardcastle 46 mins), Johnston, Kisby, Roberts, Williams, Diamond, Smith, Gill, Innes, Harris.
Attendance: 402.
Report by permission of the Lynn News