King’s Lynn Town are masters of their own downfall
- Credit: Matthew Usher
It's hard to assess where the Linnets first developed the soft centre that continues to undermine their quest for progress.
It certainly wasn't during the early months of a campaign which raised expectations of a push for the play-offs during King's Lynn Town's second term in the Evo-Stik Premier Division. Gary Setchell's men were flying high in the league and enjoying forays into the latter rounds of the FA Cup and Trophy's qualifying stages.
George Thomson's hot goalscoring streak – which saw him land a winter move to higher-level Chester – maybe papered over some of the defensive deficiencies which have become all too worryingly apparent since the turn of the year. Yet perhaps they first surfaced way, way back in late October when Town failed to reach the FA Cup first round thanks to a painful case of carelessness.
Lynn were granted praise for pushing Conference North high-fliers AFC Fylde all the way in the fourth qualifying round, only to lose 4-3. Yet that defeat should have set about a stark reality that an inviting backline had proved the undoing. It's been the same old story too often since.
What's even more troubling is individually, each of Lynn's defenders have the ability to be fantastic masters of a reaguard action. Henry Eze is a beast of a man who will never be overpowered. Ryan Fryatt has the talent to become a Walks great. Saturday's centre-back pairing have been given plenty of chances to prove their worth, together or with a different partner.
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However, while they both – and they're not alone – struggle to take control of what, especially in the first five minutes against Blyth, can seem a chaotic collective, Lynn will lose as many games, if not more, than they win.
It's a nightmare conundrum for Setchell who, whatever the back four combination, seems to be unable to prevent widespread lapses of concentration and horror mistakes being made. This defeat was less catastrophic than many during the current seven-match winless run at home. But it was still a loss. Too many teams are getting too much joy against a team that on paper, and in reality, possesses some fantastically gifted footballers. Conor Marshall, Jake Jones, Peter Winn and Lee Stevenson impressed at the weekend especially during a fantasticly vibrant 45-minute display from mid-table Lynn. However, when your side has been breached 71 times in 41 Evo-Stik matches – the third worst defensive record in the division – confidence is hardly going to be brimming if your own half. So pressure needs to be removed by offensive dominance.
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That's what Lynn enjoyed at times against Spartans but they failed to make the most of their opportunities. Goalscorer Jake Jones should have doubled his account before the break while Steve Spriggs, Stevenson and Winn – who missed a penalty – should have got their names on the scoresheet. They didn't, and brilliant Blyth had the ability, without the help they were given – especially for their second goal which came like a gift from a corner – to inflict damage.
Setchell's men are six points off the drop zone with five games to go and should be safe. Yet he knows a formula will have to be found next season to make Lynn less leaky.Because at the moment they're too easy to pick holes in – even when for large parts of the game the team, and individuals, are showing their qualities.
- To read a match, and see more pictures, from Saturday's game click here.