‘Everyone went up a notch today’ - Linnets boss on play-off final win
- Credit: Archant
Ian Culverhouse hailed his 'superb' King's Lynn team as they marched imperiously into the 'super' final showdown – and one step away from National League football.
Lynn turned on the style in front of more than 1,600 fans at The Walks to see off Alvechurch 3-0 and earn a trip to Northern Premier League counterparts Warrington on Saturday.
Lynn will travel north in good heart and good form – their twin strikers Adam Marriott and Michael Gash both hit the back of the net yesterday, but Culverhouse will be delighted that from front to back his team are hitting top form at just the right time.
'They were superb,' said the Linnets boss. 'We tried to mix it up first half and went long early just to make sure we squeezed it up because last time we played Alvechurch they were outstanding, really got at us and closed us down so we really just wanted to try and get a foothold in the game and the right to play.'
Marriott ensured the opening was comfortable enough with an 10th-minute goal taken in the style that dominates his showreel: possession on the edge of the area, a quick shift to one side - in this case his left – and a deadly accurate shot into the bottom far corner. His howitzers sometimes come out of nothing, but they have played a huge part in Lynn's success this season.
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The opening 45 minutes had shades of the weekend semi-final win over Stratford, with Lynn kept honest by a hard-working Alvechurch side whose biggest threat came through the extraordinary long throws of midfielder Tom Tonks.
'Marriott – great finish, and we were okay first half,' said Culverhouse. 'But I thought second half they were outstanding. They (Alvechurch) are a good side, they are up there by right and they have had a fantastic season, they really have, but we went to another level second half and everyone put a shift in. Everyone went up a notch today.'
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The semi-final win had been a gruelling affair, but once Lynn got their noses in front, that's where they stayed.
The half-time break brought a little tweak by Culverhouse as he pushed Ryan Jarvis further forward, and it worked wonders. Alvechurch struggled to keep pace with Lynn's slick passing game; Marriott was unplayable at times, Jarvis ran the show and Chris Henderson was the perfect foil behind the front two.
'We were worried at half-time because it was a bit to and fro,' admitted Culverhouse. 'We were putting a lot of work in closing them down and I thought we might run out of steam, but they didn't. They are a fit group in there and they showed it today.
'Marriott and Gashy again, their link-up play; Henderson in behind – he did so much work off the ball as well. The three of them at that top end were really outstanding.'
The win banished the memories of last year's play-off final when Lynn were beaten by Slough – but that day they just didn't turn up. This time, the performance would have left the Warrington scouts in the crowd with plenty to ponder.
Having got off to the good start, Lynn could well have added more – Marriott almost made it 2-0 after a superb inter-change with Jordan Richards, but his shot - from the same area he scored from seven minutes earlier - this time went the other side of the post.
Henderson went into the ref's notebook for diving in the area, despite his protestations, on 30 minutes before Marriott came close again, his shot coming back off keeper Daniel Crane's chest.
Crane then pulled off a great double save to deny Ross Barrows and then Marriott but then Henderson again went down in the area - this time the referee kept his notebook in his pocket and instead pointed to the penalty spot. Marriott stepped up, sent the keeper the wrong way and Lynn had the start to the second half they wanted.
Lynn were turning the screw - and in some style – and Gash's looping header forced Crane to stretch high to collect.
There was a scare when Roberts broke down the left, but Street did well to come out quickly and block his shot, the ball bouncing off the top of the bar.
Lynn only had to keep their nerve - and they did, with a good professional performance, Gash getting a reward for his hard work with a trademark towering header from Michael Clunan's corner to make it 3-0 in the 87th minute.
Lynn: Street, Barrows (Jones 74), Fryatt, McAuley, Blake-Tracy, Richards, Jarvis, Clunan, Henderson (Hawkins 83), Marriott, Gash (Mellors-Blair 88). Subs not used: Parker, Robinson. Goals: Marriott 10, 48 pen. Gash 87.
Alvechurch: Crane, K Morrison, Foster, Turton (Cook 69), Willets, Carter, Bellis, Tonks (T Morrison 56), Landell (Botfield 56), Roberts, March. Subs not used: Winwood, Price.
Ref: A Ajibola. Att: 1,617