Culverhouse knows just how far the journey is from King’s Lynn to York
- Credit: Archant
Ian Culverhouse has been keen to stress the size of the mountain King's Lynn Town have to climb this season in an effort to quell over-enthusiastic expectations.
A video of the only 90 minutes a Linnets team will ever play at York's crumbling Bootham Crescent ground should be sufficient to do the job.
Lynn went down 3-0, but no game this season is likely to illustrate with such clarity the difference between the top teams in National League North and those taking tentative footsteps, hoping to establish themselves for the day such giants of the non league games take their places at a higher level and leave behind a gap for a young pretender to fill.
For York will surely do that: they are a full-time club, and at this level, that it is already a distinct advantage.
More than 3,000 fans saw this game - almost three times Lynn's average home gate - and that sort of backing is vital if promotion pushes are to be financed.
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Forgetting the dilapidated state of their home ground, this is what Lynn aspire to. The big fan base, the ability to go full-time, and the ability to stand out from the crowd.
The fact that Lynn went there and stood toe to toe with illustrious opponents for much of the game won't earn them any points, but it should serve as a matter of some pride for the 250-plus travelling fans that they follow a team who won't be parking the bus, but which prefers to play football the right way. Pack your defence and you have little chance of winning. Play the game expansively, be brave and take on such a good, strong team, and you have a chance of winning if you are on your game. If you don't, you will earn plaudits. Lynn deserve that for trying and coping, and keeping their hosts honest. They came home empty-handed, but lessons will have been learned, realities confirmed.
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The problem for Lynn was that they weren't really on their game, which just added an their already difficult challenge on the day.
Culverhouse summed it up perfectly: "I thought we were very good from box to box but poor in both boxes - that sums it up really.
"I think we moved the ball well at times but came up against a really good side that kept their shape, disciplined, got bodies behind the ball really well and were ruthless when their chances came."
That's a game in a nutshell. But the gap between full- and part-time is what makes the difference. Had Lynn been a full-time club this scoreline wouldn't have happened.
To borrow from another sport, pound for pound Lynn were better. But York were bigger, stronger, quicker, more ruthless. That's what you get for your buck.
"It is not a side that is on our level," said the Lynn boss. "They are a full-time outfit - they had a practice game in the week when they played against a team which is roughly expansive as well. That's what they can do. We train Monday and Thursday nights after work. There is a big difference in it, isn't there?"
Lynn had chances, not great ones - but Chris Henderson skewed a header well wide, Michael Gash shot straight at the keeper - while hot-shot Adam Marriott was well shackled by a backline that perhaps exemplified their team more than any other part of the pitch: strong, organised and disciplined.
When York had their chances they scored: three crosses, three goals, perhaps all avoidable.
"In both boxes we were poor," added Culverhouse. "Poor defending from three crosses into the box - you are not going to win any games if you don't defend crosses, especially at this level. And I think our quality into the box attacking wasn't good.
"But it is learning for us. It is what we have to aspire to, that organisation and discipline when they are defending and when they are attacking they throw a lot of bodies forward and their quality from wide areas is very, very good. They make good runs in the box and we didn't deal with that today."
A straw poll of York fans suggested Lynn were the best side they'd faced this season - a feather in the cap, if nothing else.
But in a sport of ifs, buts and maybes, consider this: had Lynn been on their game, they could well have left with something to show for their efforts. And considering the gulf between the two clubs, that would have been outstanding.
They didn't, they have to take it on the chin. And those expectation levels have been handed a timely reality check.