King's Lynn have only themselves to blame for not returning with at least a point from their first visit to the Buck's Head ground, Wellington, on Saturday. Their defensive work was excellent but their attack lost too many opportunities in front of goal. Powerful wing half work generally gave Lynn superiority in mid-field but over embroidery by the forwards enabled Wellington's defence to overcome a shaky start.
It was, however, a most intriguing struggle to watch. The pace of the game matched the scorching heat of the sun throughout the ninety minutes and the final result might have swung either side. Both sides showed a need to settle down together before producing the football they are undoubtedly likely produce as the season progresses, but Len Richley, in his first season at the helm, can have confidence in the six newcomers who made their debut for Lynn.
John Thomas, the goalkeeper from Bourne mouth, proved himself a most capable performer by the way he dealt with most of Wellington's efforts; Tom Brown kept a close watch on Wellington's new winger, Brian Loughnane; Bill Cleary came out even from his struggle with the Town's burly leader Albert Minton into a strong left wing combination.
However, it was the wing halves, Steve Neilson and Mick Johnson, who were the real strong men of the Lynn side. They were unflagging in their energy and distribution.
Wellington's defence, their strong point in the last 33 matches of the 1958/59 campaign, was not too convincing for half the game and it may well be that the enforced change at left back could have had something to do with that loss of cohesion. Jimmy Kerr failed a late fitness test and was unable to play. His deputy, Alwyn Rogers, had to find his feet but later played excellently.
At wing half, Wellington were below par and they missed the brilliance of inside right Alan Rogers who, for some unknown reason failed to reach the ground from his Manchester home for the game. Veteran Les Wilson stepped in.
On the balance of play territorially, Wellington were undoubtedly lucky to take both points from their opening game, but it all goes to show the old adage the "it's goals that count." They will have to improve a lot to equal the form they showed in the closing stages of last season.
Losing the toss and set to face the strong sun, Wellington kicked off with a fierce onslaught which nearly brought them an early goal A strong forward pass by Hoof found Minton who quickly split the Lynn defence with a dream pass to the dashing Roberts.
It took a desperate rush forward and a daring dive by Thomas to smother the ball at the inside left's feet before a telling shot could be mustered.
Lynn settled down to move the ball about in more workmanlike manner with the wingers getting shrewd promptings from the intermediate line. Twice corners had to be considered with complete lack of ceremony by Davis to thwart the challenges of Dixon. The Lynn leader drew the defence nicely to put across a deft centre for Sewell who cracked in a fierce drive only for the ball to sear the bar. How the players maintained such a cracking pace in the heat at this stage was surprising.
The Town goal had a series of escapes through excellent centres by Baxter and there were further near misses by Luke and Sewell.
Gradually the Town mustered more cohesion in their forward play with Ken Roberts and Minton putting in excellent distribution. Lying deep, Minton was particularly effective at this point and, after 30 minutes he put Wellington ahead. Three quick corners were forced and from the last, taken by Loughnane, MINTON cracked the ball in.
Town's triumph seemed to have been short-lived, however. Five minutes later, with Lynn rallying strongly, Hurdley conceded a penalty. The kick was entrusted to Luke who is not reputed to take penalty kicking lightly.
He hit the ball well but, unfortunately for him, the Town's young keeper, Mick Richards, brought off a brilliant save.
Wellington opened the second half with more bite. Loughnane was particularly active and twice his former Bournemouth colleague, Thomas stepped in with timely saves. There was an element of luck about a third Thomas stop, though. Wilson and Loughnane went down on the right for the former to have a shot bounce off Thomas' chest. The keeper fell and was lucky when he saw Minton, rushing in, put the ball well wide from the re-bound.
But Lynn should have got on terms at this stage. Dixon had an excellent opening, beat Davies and Hoof, but shot well wide. The angle was not of the best, but there was not a lot of distance involved and he had only he keeper to beat.
Wellington got themselves into unnecessary defensive tangles, but Lynn lacked bit to turn these muddles to advantage.
Wellington: Richards, Hoof, Rodgers, Manders, Davies, Hurdley, Loughnane, Wilson, Minton, Roberts, Hancock.
King's Lynn: Thomas, Lay, Brown, Neilson, Cleary, Johnson, Baxter, Luke, Dixon, Sewell, Lockey.
Referee: Mr A. G. Chandler (Evesham). Attendance: 3,073