‘One bad game and I don’t think the gaffer would think twice about bringing someone else in’ - Chris Henderson
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
Anyone who thought King's Lynn Town would be a pushover in National League football have been giving a sobering reminder that counting chickens before they hatch is a dangerous past-time.
The sobering opening defeat at Guiseley has been followed by two hugely impressive home wins, in midweek over Kettering and then, on Saturday, an even better 3-1 home win over Hereford.
It leaves them third in the table, the highest position for 18 years, and whilst it has been a highly productive week, it is the manner in which they have gone about the game that has raised eyebrows.
Regulars have been used to the quality of Ian Culverhouse teams, but at a higher level, Saturday's performance was exceptional. For the first hour they destroyed a Hereford side tipped for promotion on the back of a very large weekly budget and the weight of history on their shoulders. Some thought we'd see a higher degree of pragmatism from Lynn, but this latest win wasn't about 'never mind the quality, feel the width'; it was all about the game in its purest form. And, yes, at this level, football can be quality entertainment.
What Culverhouse has on his hands is a squad that runs deep: he always remind us that you are only as good as your bench, and that quality has pushed the starters to new heights. Selecting a man of the match on Saturday was near impossible; the back line was excellent, the wing backs much improved, Up front Michael Gash was his usual superb self, even if Adam Marriott was a shade off his game. And in the middle, the engine room purred: Ryan Jarvis goes about his game understated but effective, but it was Michael Clunan - on his 200th appearance - and Chris Henderson who stood out.
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And it was Henderson who nailed it when he explained his own role in the first week of the new season... and what he had done differently.
"I've looked after myself a bit better really," he said. "When I was younger I used to get away with being able to step off the pitch on the last day of the season and then come back pre-season and not really do anything between.
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"But I was 29 last week and I have to look after myself a bit better. The gaffer has brought in Sonny Carey and Sam Kelly in pre-season and I know I have got to fight for my place.
"I didn't want another opportunity to lose my shirt. I have grabbed it at the moment and it is mine, but one bad game and don't think the gaffer would think twice about bringing someone else in, so I think it is that competition for places that keeps you really hungry.
"I think I have started the season well and I hope I continue that way too."
Michael Gash got Lynn's reward for their early dominance with a trademark header from a fine cross from Nathan Fox on the left, with Henderson then firing home on the stroke of half-time, this time Gash the supplier with an intelligent square ball from the right flank.
Hereford, for all their supposed quality, were predictable and there were few complaints when Lynn just about wrapped it up seven minutes after the break when Aaron Jones crossed from the right side of the area, but the ball took a touch off a defender who was closing him down and looped over the keeper. Fortuitous, but you earn your luck.
If there was anything to take the edge off Culverhouse's mood it was that Lynn allowed Hereford back into the game. Alex Street made a fine stop - his second of the afternoon - to deny Jordan Nicholson, but on 75 minutes the visitors got a consolation through Mike Symons.
"I thought we played really well," said the Lynn boss. "Especially first half - we got on the ball and moved it around really, really well and created some good chances, then going 2-0 up it was important we managed the game and I thought we did that. Alex Street pulled off a great save at 2-0 and obviously we go up the other end and get the third goal. Whoever scored it was important and luckily we got that and killed the game."
Culverhouse is the master tactician, but it is the simplest ideal that could be most important.
"We have got to win our home games," he said. "It has got to be a massive place for us - the crowd turned up again and got behind the boys and made some noise and it was really great."
King's Lynn Town: Street, Jones, Fryatt, Smith, McAuley, Fox, Jarvis (Richards 64), Clunan, Henderson (Kelly 73), Marriott (Hawkins 80), Gash. Subs not used: Payne, Carey.
Goals: Gash 24, Henderson 45, Jones 52
Hereford: Hall, Hodgkiss, Pope (Styche 46, Symonds 62)), Thomas, Cullinane-Liburd, Gowling, Nicholson, Jagger Cane, Liburd, Owen-Evans, Hanley (Ash 69). Subs not used: Maye, O'Sullivan.
Goal: Symonds 75