Culverhouse ponders the style over substance question
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
It's the time of the year when football managers are, in the main, concerned with only one thing: points.
It doesn't matter how they come by them, but the maximum addition to the final column of the league table is of over-riding importance.
Which means the adage, never mind the quality feel the width, rules.
It puts Ian Culverhouse into a difficult situation – and he is probably not alone. Lynn, coming off a defeat at Rushall, strengthened their play-off position with a hard-fought win over Hitchin – hard-fought and not perhaps as stylish as he'd like but, as the manager pointed out, they got the win. That's the essential.
But would Culverhouse, for whom style has been paramount this season, be prepared to sacrifice it all in the pursuit of the points?
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'No... I still like us to play and I said to the lads, full credit to them, they got three points, but I would just like us to be braver on the ball at times,' said Culverhouse.
'I think last week we got mixed up in their type of game through the conditions and the pitch and it doesn't suit us because we haven't got that type of player - we have got players who are good in possession of the ball, technical players and we just got caught up today.'
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After that defeat a week earlier Lynn got off to a flying start – inside a minute Adam Marriott had planted a shot inches wide, but on five minutes he was in acres of space and, curtesy of Michael Clunan's cross, fired Lynn ahead.
Even then Hitchin showed plenty of signs of adventure, but on 12 minutes it was 2-0. The wind played havoc with a clearance and Jordan Richards turned and shot into the far left corner.
That, pretty much, should have been that, but three minutes before half-time a free-kick was floated into the area and nodded down for Ezra Forde, who tapped home from a yard. Lynn did restore the cushion on 62 minutes when a wind-assisted free-kick floated in from the right caused havoc - and a Hitchin defender inadvertently got his boot to it. But once again Hitchin responded, making it 3-2 when Jay Bird fired home from 20 yards on 70 minutes.
It could have been worse, but goalkeeper Street did brilliantly to deny Forde after some excellent close-quarter play by Hitchin – a save that left him with a row of stud marks on his leg, but the appreciation of his manager for keeping the three points with Lynn.
'It was a great start,' said Culverhouse. 'We were flying and some of the passages of play were really, really good, but they weren't often enough and it became a game that we weren't in control of and I like to be in control of games and in the end it became a battle, and fair play to the boys. I thought Rory McAuley headed everything that came his way.
'But we gave the ball too cheaply at times, we really did.
'I just thought it was an ugly one and the conditions weren't the best.'
In some ways it was one of those 'games of two halves' - which, given Lynn had the first half, should have been in the bag by half-time.
'I thought the first half, on a couple of occasions we got the ball down and cut them open but it just was sporadic, we didn't get hold of the ball enough to really get our passing game on to it,' said Culverhouse. 'We scored good goals at good times and then conceded just before half-time, which is scandalous. Everyone just switched off and thought it was offside, but you just play to the whistle, it was schoolboy stuff.'
Lynn: Street, Robinson, Fryatt, McAuley, Blake-Tracy, Jarvis, Richards, Clunan, Henderson (Hawkins 80), Marriott, Gash. Subs: Parker, Mellors-Blair, Limb, Congreve. Goal: Marriott 5, Richards 12, 62og
Hitchin: Parker, Green, Chesmain, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, Cain, Draper, Forde (Belgrove 89), Galliford, Bird (Penfold 85). Subs: Cue, Ryan, Mensah. Goal: Forde 42, Bird 70
Ref: A Sannerude (Lowestoft)