Culverhouse wants his players to get streetwise to survive
- Credit: Ian Burt
Ian Culverhouse has warned his King’s Lynn Town players to be more street wise if they are to cope with life in the National League.
The Linnets’ part-time status was always going to put them at an immediate disadvantage against most teams, but the 3-0 home defeat by Boreham Wood – play-off semi-finalists last season – also highlighted the need for some savvy when it comes to dealing with opponents, discipline and match officials.
The visitors were excellent and in big striker Matt Rhead had someone who ‘played the game’ – his attempts to win, sometimes successfully, free-kicks and his accusatory finger-pointing at Lynn full-back Aaron Jones were an old pro’s ways of intimidating opponents, among other things. On the occasions the referee was taken in hook, line and sinker, it was advantage Boreham Wood - as if they needed one.
Culverhouse had no complaints about Boreham Wood, far from it, but it was clear post-match that he knows his players have to read every aspect of the game in the same way.
“We have got to learn,” said the Linnets boss. “Two games we have played against really good sides. We are not competing at that level yet, we really ain’t. But we have to learn from these how they do things, how they use their body, how they get around the ref, things like that, and then we will be better.
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“We are not at that level, we are not competing with them, far from it, but to stay in the league we have to learn all the tricks of the trade, how game-wise they are, how street wise they are and if we learn that we will be okay, I am telling you.”
A case in point was perhaps the sending off Jamar Loza for two yellow cards. The first, fairly early on, was for an innocuous challenge, more of a side-by-side coming together really. The second was fairly similar, just minutes before half-time. It was handled farcically by referee Elliott Swallows who didn’t at first appear to realise he had already booked the Lynn player. Consultation with an assistant, prompted by some loud barking from Boreham Wood staff in the stand, meant he saw the error of his ways. Had he realised Loza had one yellow to his name he may not have gone for the second one – but why was no Lynn player all over him imploring him to keep his card in his pocket?
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“I thought the sending off were two ridiculous fouls to be booked for,” said Culverhouse. “The game’s getting comical I think. But fair play, they bought them and we got punished.
“They managed the game superbly from the bench and on the pitch they managed it. You need strong officiating but I’m afraid it wasn’t.”
Culverhouse has the benefit of instant feedback for his players, but the simplicity of it is that of the 12 goals conceded on their first four games, plenty were avoidable.
One of Yeovil’s two goals came from a set-piece, the other from a wayward Lynn pass; at Maidenhead, both their goals were penalties; of Solihull’s five goals, two were from free-kicks, one from a wayward pass.
The manner of conceding will disappoint Culverhouse, but if there is some mitigation, it is that Lynn are starting on the back foot against most teams. Boreham Wood and Solihull are more likely than not going to be at the top end of the table. What Lynn need to do is take points off teams in and around their area of the league.
“They have got to understand what league we are in - there are probably three leagues within one and we are probably in that bottom bit and we have our own little league to win.”
The adjustment needs to come quickly: and this weekend’s trip to Weymouth sees Lynn come up against a team in a similar boat. Promoted from National League South via the play-offs, the Terrras have had an equally difficult start, unable to score in their opening four games, which have yielded just one point.
“We have to adjust quickly to it, but it could be 10 games,” said Culverhouse. “The thing is, we give them feedback and they have got to learn from it, we all do, as a collective, even staff. We will learn. We have to coach better, I have got to coach better and we will be alright if we all stick together and don’t lose the belief, because we have earned the right to be in this league and we will be fine, we really will be.”
The conviction from Culverhouse is accompanied by that knowing look that says he knows the dressing room has the quality to respond to two bad results.
“It is going to be very hard, they are a good side, Weymouth, and play a good brand of football. They have just come up and they are the type of teams we are competing with at the moment. They are finding their feet in the league as we are and it is about who responds better on the day.”