King's Lynn Town 0-4 Stockport County

A dominant first-half showing set a relentless County on the way to a 0-4 win at King’s Lynn on Tuesday evening, as The Hatters kept up the pressure on the National League’s top three – and secured a twelfth game unbeaten in the process.

Boss Simon Rusk opted for two changes to the side which started in Saturday’s emphatic 0-3 win at Boreham Wood, as Will Collar – suffering with illness – was replaced by Elliot Newby in midfield, whilst Sam Minihan replaced Macauley Southam-Hales, who took a place on the bench alongside new signing Ryan Rydel.

In what represented a first trip to the home of the Linnets since 1912, The Hatters started brightly early on, with John Rooney heading straight at Theo Richardson in the first ninety seconds, before Paddy Madden fired low and inches wide of Richardson’s upright moments later.

Harry Cardwell looped a header over the crossbar from an Elliot Newby cross as the County pressure continued – before that opener did come inside the first ten minutes.

After Cardwell saw a first-time effort put behind for a County corner, Rooney swung one in which Madden instinctively flicked on at the near post and glanced inside the far corner to provide a deserved lead.

Things got even better on the quarter-hour mark when County’s lead was doubled, with Linnets forward Michael Gash the unfortunate party as he could only bundle a wicked James Jennings corner past Richardson in his own goal.

Despite the slice of fortune with the own goal, the end result was a two-goal lead for the dominant Hatters, and two goals from two delightful deliveries from set-pieces early on.

The visitors refused to let up on their relentless early start, with Elliot Newby curling just wide of the far post following a flowing move started by a stunning through ball by John Rooney, before Harry Cardwell skewed wide when teed up by the impressive Sam Minihan.

Ben Hinchliffe had to remain alert to tip long-range strikes by Gash and Michael Gyasi over the crossbar as the hosts looked to wrestle any sort of foothold back in proceedings, before highly-rated youngster Sonny Carey blazed well wide from the edge of the area as the first-half rolled on.

Despite a bright mini-spell of possession for the home side late in the half, County made it three when Newby broke at pace and crossed for former Chorley teammate Cardwell to head past a helpless Richardson and ease The Hatters into a three-goal lead.

The Chorley connection struck again on the stroke of half-time, as the mercurial Newby popped up on the left wing to skip past his man and lay on a plate for Cardwell to prod home from close-range, giving County a superb fourth before half-time.

The Hatters resumed for the second half showing a solitary change; Macauley Southam-Hales replaced skipper Liam Hogan, with a subsequent reshuffle seeing Sam Minihan drop back into a three-man defence alongside Jennings and Ash Palmer.

The marauding Southam-Hales won County a clear penalty on the hour mark when he was felled by Linnets captain Kyle McFadden, but for the second time this month, ‘keeper Theo Richardson denied John Rooney from the penalty spot by springing low to his left and palming away.

Elliot Newby went close twice to opening his Hatters account with two stinging efforts parried by the busy Richardson past the hour mark, whilst Gash curled a lovely effort inches wide at the other end as Ian Culverhouse’s men went close to a consolation.

Alex Kiwomya should have grabbed that consolation in the 70th minute, when the former Chesterfield man burst clear on goal only to be denied by Hinchliffe – and, with the goal gaping on the rebound, Kiwomya could only fire over.

Ryan Rydel entered the fray late on for his Hatters debut, as did top goalscorer Alex Reid, with the affair rather petering out following the action-packed first half.

Michael Gash twice came close to registering the hosts on the scoresheet with close-range efforts blocked by Ash Palmer, whilst Newby drilled wide at the other end – but the evening g came to an end with no further damage to the scoreline, following a scintillating first-half by The Hatters.

County line-up (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan © (Southam-Hales, 46), Palmer, J. Jennings; Minihan, Croasdale, Rooney, Walker (Rydel, 69), Newby; Madden, Cardwell (Reid, 72).

Unused subs: Fitzsimons, Maynard.

Booked: Rooney, Madden.

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