Linnets take centre stage as National League buck the trend

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Bu

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Ian Culverhouse will have breathed a sigh of relief when the National League decided to buck the trend - and surprise a few people no doubt – with its decision that games would go ahead, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Bu

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Popular opinion appeared to be that the league hierarchy meeting on Friday afternoon would follow the lead of its more senior brothers in the Premier League and EFL and suspend games.

But their statement, released around 3pm, revealed there had been no outside influence in the decision.

'Following a Board meeting held today, the National League has decided to allow matches in its three divisions to proceed as planned this weekend,' read the statement.

'The National League will keep the operation of its competition under constant and diligent review, and will remain in compliance with government advice at all times.

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Bu

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant


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'The Football Association has offered its guidance, and made it clear the decision to continue or to suspend a competition is a matter for each league to make.

'The National League places the welfare and well-being of all those involved in and connected to its competition as the highest priority.

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'All clubs and supporters are encouraged to stay up to date with the latest public health advice.'

With Norwich City's home game against Southampton suspended, Lynn might expect to pick up a few casual visitors for their home game against Guiseley. But these are not normal circumstances, and the threat of infection might have the opposite effect.

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Bu

Linnets sub Sam Kelly was introduced midway through the second half against Bradford Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Owner Stephen Cleeve is certainly hoping for the former.

'Lots of calls from Norwich City fans wanting their football fix - you are more than welcome,' he tweeted.

On a purely footballing front, Lynn boss Culverhouse will likely want to see his players out there shaking off the after-effects of a midweek performance that was well below par and saw them lose 1-0 to bottom club Bradford PA.

Guiseley taught Lynn a lesson on the opening day of the season, seeing off the league new boys 3-0. Lynn recovered quickly and began to make an impression at the top end of the table. They are still a big noise in the title race, two points behind leaders York with three games in hand, but if they are to stay there, Culverhouse knows he needs to see the steely, decisive, pinpoint-passing side to their game. And with no passengers.

'We have to lift,' said Culverhouse. 'Obviously the players go to work and they have got to recover properly and they have to turn up on Saturday and we will give it a good go, but we need everyone behind us, from the stands and all over the place, we need everyone pulling in the same direction. While we are in this position we will give it a good go. Against Bradford we didn't. We have to come back stronger on Saturday. From start to finish I thought we were poor, full credit to Bradford, I thought they were superb. Full credit to them, they came and did a job on us.

'It is very, very rarely we put in a performance like that - it's the first time since I have been here that we have put in a performance like that.'

What Culverhouse and his assistant Paul Bastock didn't do on Tuesday night was read the riot act to the players post-match.

'I don't need to holler and shout in front of them,' said Culverhouse. 'We had an off night. What we can't do is make a habit of it. We have to come back stronger on Saturday and find a way to win game of football, but they don't need me or Bazz pointing, they know what is needed to put us in this position, they know the standards we have set, they know they fell way, way below the standards.'

In truth, the National League is a minefield for every team: results are entirely unpredictable and at some point, Lynn had to be the victims of a shock - it's happened to most others at the top end this season.

'It's a strong league,' said Culverhouse. 'Who would have thought we would have been in the position we are in and we have only suffered two losses at home all season.'

Culverhouse has no new injury problems and may be able to include centre-half Ryan Fryatt following his return from a long-term injury absence.

Talks of coronavirus won't be far away, with the Linnets issuing health advice to supporters: 'In accordance with advice form the government and the NHS notices of advice have been placed around the ground as well as extra sanitiser gel around the toilet facilities at the stadium.

'We urge all people attending Saturday's game to practice the best personal hygiene methods and wash hands thoroughly in accordance with government and NHS advice.'

Linnets fans - why not cheer your team on in style against Guiseley?

We've got a limited supply of foam hands which we'll be selling with a goody bag and your local edition of the Eastern Daily Press before the game - all for just £2.

You can treat yourself at our special sales point just outside the ground near the turnstiles on Tennyson Avenue.

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