‘It is not the be all and end all of the league’ - Linnets boss on York visit
PUBLISHED: 20:21 12 January 2020 | UPDATED: 20:21 12 January 2020
The Walks will play host to one of the biggest matches in its history when King’s Lynn Town face their closest title rivals on Saturday.
Glamour FA Cup ties and play-off matches rivals it, but this is a game which sees Lynn as high as they have ever been in the football ladder, against a team one point behind them - in league terms, it just hasn't been any bigger.
The fact that York are there is no great surprise, but Lynn's role in this match of the season was never on the cards.
Manager Ian Culverhouse knows it's a big game but, equally, knows Lynn's season won't be determined by what happens over the course of a couple of hours this weekend.
"It is not the be all and end all of the league," said Culverhouse. "I think we still have 18 games to play. Whoever wins the game or if it is a draw, we still have so many points to play for. But it is a big game because it is first versus second.
"It is going to be a great atmosphere. They are bringing down a few and I hope our crowd turn up, I'm sure they will, and get behind the boys. It is the games you want to be in, this is why we are in this league.
"As long as we are competitive and we really get at them and give them a good game - and I think it will be two sides really going hammer and tongs at it. It is a proper game, but we have many more games games to come after that one."
Culverhouse's CV has taken him to the biggest stages in European football, but it's clear that big games at this level still give him a buzz.
"I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "It is going to be a really good challenge because they are a good side, a really good side, a full-time side so they should be shouldn't they? And we just have to go out there and give our everything and I am sure whatever XI we put out there will give everything for the shirt."
The squad depth is one of the issues facing Culverhouse: midfielder Jordan Richards and defender Rory McAuley missed last weekend's FA Trophy defeat at Ebbsfleet, where Adam Marriott was given an hour and fellow striker Michael Gash a run-out from the bench. But the inevitable knocks will have stretched the physio's workload this week and once again Culverhouse will need to do a head count before finalising his plans.
"We picked up a couple (at Ebbsfleet) but Gashy has had a rest, and then we gave Mazzer and hour so we have had to rotate a little bit which will help them," said Culverhouse. "We are just trying to utilise the squad as much as we can. It isn't pretty at times but this is what we are down to."
York have reportedly got around twice as many squad players as the Linnets, so those meagre resources help ease some of the pressure, if not the expectation of a team beaten just twice in the league this season and unbeaten at home for almost 18 months.
"There's been no pressure on us all season because we have just come up and we are punching way above our weight, like I have always said, but the good thing about this bunch is they will turn up next week, they really will be up for it."
Lynn's two league defeats came at Guiseley, on the opening day, and at York on September 28. If proof is needed that Culverhouse's team are good learners then consider this: after Guiseley, Lynn went 10 league games unbeaten; post-York, they are unbeaten in 12.
"They play with no fear," said Culverhouse. "We are respectful of who we play but once we play, we play, and as long as we can handle the ball and play without fear we will be alright. We are a good side."
Culverhouse' reflection on that loss at York Street is quite simple: "I think I said on the day in both boxes we were poor and they were better in both boxes, but between both boxes I thought we played really well. we handled the ball really well, but they were better than us in both boxes."
Lynn, of course, have two men who have proved lethal in the box this season: Marriott and Gash, who will be facing one of his former clubs, having played at York from 2009-11.
Gash has played the perfect support role to the free-scoring Marriott this season and knows how big this game is.
"It is right up there," said the 33-year-old. "I think the levels you play at if you are playing another so called title contender - and we have to look at it like that in the middle of January and we are clear at the top - then it doesn't come much bigger than that. Whatever level, they are all big games when you are fighting against teams that are up there as well."