Something stirs when stars align at The Walks
- Credit: Ian Burt
The fans returned to The Walks, and King's Lynn Town responded against league leaders Torquay - CHRIS LAKEY reports
It took all of 15 seconds to see that this was going to be a game that delivered something different from King’s Lynn Town.
When Michael Gash nodded the ball on to Dayle Southwell, only the intervention of the excellent Torquay goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald prevented Lynn from taking a surprise, and very early, lead.
That, though, set the tone for a 90-minute performance that was arguably as good as anything Lynn have produced this season.
The sometimes porous defence is the only one to have prevented the leaders from scoring this season. For Lynn, that is terrific news for starters, but there was evidence from back to front that Lynn’s 18th place position in the National League is a false one.
The tempo was maintained, remarkably, until the final whistle, with Lynn doing everything but score. Had it been a boxing match, Lynn would have got the verdict on account of their willingness to take the game to the visitors.
How can Lynn play so well against the league leaders when on occasions they have crumbled against much lesser teams?
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In football, there are only theories, no answers. But if you are looking for an unscientific response, here it is: the crowd and Michael Gash.
Neither has been in the same football ground at the same time since March, both different victims of illness, if you like, but when they came together on Saturday, the stars aligned.
Gash is a force of nature: his presence is talismanic, he inspires team-mates and supporters. He’s a brilliant striker who is so much more than just a big man up front: one minute he is flicking a delicate pass, the next he is helping out his defence in the thick of the physical action. Manager Ian Culverhouse has wanted a little more streetwise behaviour from his players. Gash has it in spades.
Assistant manager Paul Bastock has been around the block a bit and knows exactly what an asset Gash is.
He said: "When you are coming up against big physical teams, big powerful defenders... he ain’t no lightweight, so he is competing, he is a wily old man, he knows how to put his body in at the right time and it is just that physicality - and he is a great player. You don’t do what he has done in his career and not achieve things. You need someone like that in your team if you are going to be able to keep the ball.
"Long may Gashy’s fitness continue.”
Whether he lifts the crowd or the crowd lift him and the other players is a bit chicken and egg: but on Saturday, the symbiotic relationship worked a treat, from the moment Lynn ran out to a huge roar for the first time this season.
For half an hour or so, Lynn were playing on an adrenaline rush. The crowd were noisy – 625 was disappointingly low, but in the circumstances of economics and safety concerns, perhaps not a great surprise – and their presence has always been a major factor in Lynn’s performances.
Last season when Lynn were going full steam ahead, Gash was imperious, the crowds were noisy and growing – and performances were very similar to this one: courageous, exciting and swashbuckling.
It isn’t scientific, but when the stars align, things happen.
Will it be the start of something better? Who knows, but Culverhouse has plenty of choices now. And he has players who have shown what they can do: Kyle Callan-McFadden was excellent, Jamar Loza thrived on a live audience, Ryan Jarvis rolled back another year or two, and alongside him Jordan Richards was superb.
Simon Power got the sponsors’ man of the match champagne, but there were times when 11 bottles of champagne were required.
Power and Loza are terrific wingmen, when they are fully utilised. That’s what Lynn did – they gave them the ball. Loza had his man on toast, Power is just what it says on the tin... ridiculously quick and brave.
Bastock summed it all up perfectly: “The boys to a man were unbelievable, the effort, endeavour, the chances and it made it different having a crowd there as well, it lifts the boys.
"We were the better team on the day in my opinion and we feel we have dropped points against a top of the table team that has been blowing teams out of the water.”