Gash, Mitchell and the leading man role at King’s Lynn Town
- Credit: Archant
Things look they are beginning to click for King’s Lynn Town after the 2-0 win over Dover Athletic – Chris Lakey takes a look into the near future...
Over the next few weeks an intriguing sub-plot will be played out as King’s Lynn Town seek to consolidate their position in the National League and, who knows, the FA Cup.
It involves two men at quite different stages of their career, but neither lacking the hunger to lay claim to the one position that has perhaps caused more problems for Ian Culverhouse than any other this season.
The shirt in question belongs to the big, physical striker. The claimants are Michael Gash and Kairo Mitchell. The latter is the current holder – but Gash is edging closer to making his move for occupancy rights.
Mitchell was brought in last month when it became obvious Lynn couldn’t wait for Gash to get back to full fitness following a debilitating summer illness. He’s not a replacement - you need to go a long way to find a Gash replica because even last season, as a 33-year-old, he was ripping it up on the promotion trail. A year older, just as wise, just as experienced, you’d expect him to cause National League defenders the same sort of headaches. Sadly for him, mother nature intervened, but the light at the end of the tunnel – a place on the bench for next weekend’s FA Cup tie at Portsmouth – came from Culverhouse after watching his side despatch Dover Athletic 2-0 on Saturday.
“We have got Gashy coming back,” said Culverhouse. “He is doing a lot of work so hopefully he can make the bench and he can be a part of it, which will be a great boost for the club, and we have loads of options at the moment so everything is rosy in the garden... for one week.
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“He is not match fit, he is training as much as he can. It is game time now and unfortunately at the moment he can’t get on to the pitch but he is working ever so hard on his own programme, he comes in to train with us when he can and it is nice to see him back.”
That return carrot is quite some accolade for a player who, whilst he has been warming up pre-match, has yet to kick a ball in anger; it’s a mark of the man, a mark of his importance.
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Mitchell, by an unfortunate coincidence, won’t be involved: he’s cup tied. But when the two are fit and available, Culverhouse will have competition and adaptability all over the park.
Mitchell perhaps doesn’t have the technical ability of Gash: he’s 11 years his junior and is a different type of presence up front.
But he has that same greedy striker’s approach: witness the late penalty he earned against Dover. Rolled by Ryan Hanson, who was harshly red-carded, he grabbed the ball. Adam Marriott is the penalty taker and he wanted it. Captain Michael Clunan did his job, and settled the issue, Marriott took it and scored. Mitchell was already heading back for the restart while everyone else celebrated.
After another good shift, Mitchell tried his hardest to get on the scoresheet but was out of luck by inches, every time. But that desire and hunger is just what Culverhouse wants, and needs.
“That just shows the hunger in Kairo,” said Culverhouse. “I thought he was magnificent today; it is a really hard task to lead the line on your own, but he is revelling in it. He is here to score goals and you can see the hunger.
“All centre forwards have to have a selfish streak in them and he has definitely got one and he’s a little bit disappointed in there because he hasn’t scored, but the shift he put in was magnificent, he has done ever so well.”
While Pompey will occupy the manager’s mind this week, he knows as well as anyone that this is all a sideshow to the main storyline and the aforementioned sub-plot. The money’s nice, especially in the current difficult climate, but Lynn won’t be going to Wembley any time soon. If it all ends at Fratton Park everyone will have enjoyed the ride and will get on with the main event. Staying up.
Currently it’s going pretty well: but Culverhouse will want a longer run of consistency than two wins on the bounce, welcome as they were.
“It will do the group a hell of a lot of good,” said Culverhouse, who confirmed that defender Danny Lupano would return to Hull City now his one-month loan has ended. “All we can do is keep trying to get wins. We know it isn’t always going to work and we are going to be on the end of some hidings but this bodes well going into a goof week where we can enjoy ourselves.”
The manager often gives an almost apologetic shrug of the shoulders when he says the next game “is a big one - they are all big ones”. But it is clearly true. Which is why writing their own scripts is vital, rather than allowing others to dictate the ending.