Linnets boss loves it when a plan comes together
- Credit: Archant
There are few things that a manager, particularly a former defender, loves more than a clean sheet – unless it's one of his back four getting on the scoresheet with a goal worthy of any of his strikers.
Ian Culverhouse got both as the Linnets made it 12 matches unbeaten ion the Evo-Stik South Premier Central, seven of those under his watchful eyes, with a 3-0 home win over Rushall Olympic.
The man who brought a smile to his face was Rory McAuley, a no-nonsense defender who sticks his head in where it hurts and is tough enough to perhaps not have noticed the cold, the wind and driving rain that threw itself over The Walks.
Lynn were ahead through first-half goals from Ryan Hawkins and Michael Clunan but with the final 15 minutes approaching were looking for the insurance goal. Clunan put in a corner to the edge of the area, Lynn kept it alive and when it dropped for McAuley, his back to goal some eight yards out, he produced a superb, acrobatic overhead kick.
Not only did it seal the points, it was the icing on the cake for McAuley who, alongside Ryan Fryatt had battled the conditions to keep the visitors at arm's length.
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The goal was the bonus for a Lynn side who had conceded in their last four league games – a stat which clearly stuck in Culverhouse's craw.
'It was unbelievable, a great finish and I don't think the boys will hear the end of that for a while,' said the Lynn boss.
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'He was outstanding at both ends, really solid defensively.
'I was pleased we got a clean sheet because we have just stepped away from that a little bit and if we can build on clean sheets we won't be far away.'
It was one of those games where the conditions, coupled with determined opponents, perhaps dictated that brawn and brains would be required in equal measure. Lynn have an abundance of quality players; fortunately they aren't show ponies. When sleeves needed rolling up, they obliged: Clunan and Ryan Jarvis shirked nothing in midfield, Adam Marriott and Michael Gash likewise up front.
Hawkins' goal came on 14 minutes after some early forays by Rushall: Lynn broke, the winger's first shot was blocked but he banged home the follow-up. Turns out a word in his shell-like pre-match worked a treat.
'We had a little word with him before the game and said his levels have dropped a bit in recent performances,' explained Culverhouse. 'But he was up there again today. I thought first half he looked a threat and when he's on fire the tempo and the intensity goes through and you can see the crowd gets behind him and it raises him a touch.
'I have been back for seven games now and the first two he was outstanding, he was excellent and we just think his levels had dropped so we had a little word. He knows, he is not a stupid boy, he has just stepped off the pace, but he responded really, really well. He was always a threat.'
Clunan popped in a penalty a minute before the break before McAuley's 74th-minute cracker.
'I thought they were excellent, I really did,' Culverhouse said.
Victory takes Lynn within two points off a play-off spot, with a busy period ahead – the trip to Biggleswade at the weekend is followed by two huge homes games in Christmas week – Lowestoft on Boxing Day followed three days later by Kettering Town. Culverhouse doesn't have the biggest squad so good management between games is vital.
'We just have to keep building,' said Culverhouse. 'This football club is on a good run at the moment, we can't take our eye off it. We are coming into a really busy period now and we have to look after the boys and it is all about recovery and making sure everything is right for the next game.'
King's Lynn: Street, Castellan (Richards 71), Blake-Tracy, Jarvis, Fryatt, McAuley, Clunan, Henderson (Limb 82), Gash, Marriott, Hawkins (Parker 75). Subs not used: Bastock, Parker, Clark. Goals: Hawkins 14, Clunan 44 pen, McAuley 74.
Rushall: Przybek, Smikle, Adelekan (Maye 32), Whittall, Lyttle, Ahenkorah (Monterio 75, Waldron, O'Callaghan (Singh 65), Pendley, Sammons, Lund. Subs not used: Slinn, Hull.