A Marriott goal but not quite business as usual for excellent Linnets
- Credit: Archant
King’s Lynn Town’s first game in the National League was a cracking 2-2 draw with Yeovil – played out in the strangest of circumstances, as Chris Lakey reports.
It’s becoming a cliche in these troubled times, but this was a game that definitely deserved a crowd.
Even before kick-off it was Lynn’s biggest league game ever, at home to one of the promotion favourites, in Yeovil, and big enough to be deemed worthy of live broadcast on the telly – all after an anxious build-up when no one even knew it would even go ahead.
The main body of evidence, though, was on the pitch. Lynn went out and produced the brand of football for which manager Ian Culverhouse is rightly acclaimed: good movement and passing, a Rory McAuley-led passion not to let Yeovil anywhere near his penalty area – and great entertainment. There was no fear, nor a lack of pragmatism.
Had to not been for the fact strikers Michael Gash and Adam Marriott were in the stands and on the bench respectively, it might not have been goalless at half-time. Neither watched on by choice - illness and injury caused that. In their absence Dayle Southwell ploughed a sometimes lonely furrow up top, Simon Power the lone winger/provider with Jamar Loza injured. Ryan Jarvis looked every inch the experienced pro, alongside him Jordan Richards doing the leg work.
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Much of the first-half danger came from the left, where Alex Brown, on his senior debut, was excellent, although he might find in future the acres of space Yeovil afforded him will not be provided by opponents wised up to his threat.
But these National League heavyweights are no mugs: there were shades of Chester at home last season, when the visitors scored twice in the first 20 minutes of the second half to make it 2-1, only for Lynn to level and claim a point. It had shades of that as Yeovil came out for the second period with sleeves rolled up. It was they who attempted to steal the initiative: at times they did, but that’s expected.
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A free-kick from the left gave them the lead, headed in by Luke Wilkinson, only for Dayle Southwell to level. Courtney Duffus fired past Alex Street to restore the advantage but Marriott, who else, popped up with the equaliser late on.
Salient point: Marriott, still getting back to full fitness, did what he does best - nipping in front of a defender to prod the ball home, in this case from Aaron James cross to the near post. Marriott is huge for Lynn and the fact that, not yet fit, he in on target, will please his boss.
“Brilliant,” said Culverhouse. “Nipped in at the near post and squeezed it in... he is a goal scorer, but I thought Dayle did really well up there as well and I am glad he got his goal.”
Goals change games, but so can substitutes and when teenager Sonny Carey came on, Lynn looked more dangerous
Mention him and Culverhouse gives you the knowing look: “That’s a player.” Emphasis on the first word. Carey is learning his trade, but when he was introduced, he changed things: forcefully driving forward from midfield, although profligate in front of goal when Marriott teed him up. That will come - there is a lot of learning and a lot of talent still hidden away.
“His runs into the box were very good,” said Culverhouse. “He should have scored, he is a bit disappointed with that – you thought that might have come back to haunt us a little bit, but the character they showed... I thought Rory McAuley at the back was magnificent, he led by example, and Smudge (Chris Smith) next to him. They had to stand up to a lot of balls into the box and they did it well.”
The second half was more even, and hugely enjoyable for those fortunate enough to have seen it.
“They pressed a little bit higher and got into our face a little bit more, but we didn’t turn away from our beliefs, which I am so proud of,” Culverhouse added. “We still tried to play through the thirds and get into good pockets and I am please that we got something out of it because there was a lot of hard work there.”
It is inevitable given the rise in status that the character they showed is going to be needed on many occasions: Culverhouse has a simple motto for what he wants: “We have to produce it every week because if we don’t then we are going to get our backsides smacked. As long as we out-work teams and are on par with teams we will be alright.”
The plus points are that those who came in didn’t let Lynn down – but there will be some licking of lips at the prospect of a team which includes Gash, Marriott, skipper Michael Clunan, who was suspended, and Loza problem.
“We are not big on numbers anyway so everyone will get their chance,” said Culverhouse. “If they can delivering performances like that we are going to be in for an enjoyable season.”
Hopefully, at some stage, more people will be able to join the fun.