‘The last thing we wanted was a replay’ - Lynn boss on FA Trophy exit
PUBLISHED: 21:38 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 21:38 11 January 2020
All good things come to an end - but there are unlikely to be many inquests as the Linnets’ 14-game unbeaten run ended in a 2-0 FA Trophy second round defeat at Ebbsfleet United.
That it came in a knockout competition is the reason - with Lynn's National League North title ambitions and next weekend's massive home game against York City never far from the minds.
Manager Ian Culverhouse didn't appear unduly concerned after a performance which lacked a cutting edge, despite the man advantage for much of the game.
"The last thing we wanted was a replay," he said. "That would have killed us, because we haven't got a squad anyway at the moment so having another game on top and playing on our pitch as well, it could have been a recipe for disaster.
"I am obviously not happy to be out of the Trophy because it is something we wanted to do, but it is about protecting these boys and to come out with a couple of injuries, so it hasn't really been a fantastic day for King's Lynn Town."
While there are clearly bigger fish to fry, there were clearly mitigating circumstances: centre-half Rory McAuley and midfielder Jordan Richards were both left put because of niggling injuries, while Chris Smith returned to the heart of the back four after three months out and Michael Gash was named on the bench - on a day when he and Harry Limb were stuck in traffic and arrived at the Kuflink Stadium at about the same time as the players were emerging from the tunnel.
It was one of those days.
"A few of the players got stuck on the A1, these things you can't legislate for," said Culverhouse. "What we had we went with, those that were fit and able - and some weren't fit and able - gave as good as they can give but it wasn't good enough on the day.
"I thought we just lacked a bit of quality in the final third. We bossed the game of football; fair play to them they banked up really well and hit us on the break, so I wish them all the best in the next round."
Ebbsfleet are struggling near the bottom of the National League, and Lynn certainly had the better of proceedings, without really extending home keeper David Gregory.
Marriott put one just wide after Ross Barrows headed on Sonny Carey's corner in the opening minutes, before the Lynn hitman was involved in confusion over an uncontested free-kick which Ryan Jarvis took and Marriott chased down, to the anger of the hosts, prompting a few bench-to-bench apologies.
But the turning point came on 23 minutes when Jarvis upset Ebbsfleet in his enthusiasm to win possession and appeared to kick a grounded home player in the head. It sparked a shoving match which ended in Barrows on the floor clutching his face - and defender Andre Blackman shown the red card. Jarvis went unpunished, which perhaps proved that it was worthy only of handbags at 10 paces.
From then on, Lynn struggled to get past the Ebbsfleet backline: the hosts organised better and presented a red wall challenge for the visitors to try and negotiate.
Alfie Payne slid a shot past Gregory but saw it cleared off the line - and Lynn rarely tested the Fleet new signing thereafter. A misfiring attack against 10 men was always likely to end in a stalemate, and although Culverhouse brought on Gash and Limb - and giving Marriott a rest - the game was won and lost on 65 minutes after Smith's rash challenge on Josh Umerah earned Fleet a penalty, converted by sub Ayo Obileye.
"They managed the game quite well, and we didn't have enough quality in the final third today," said Culverhouse. "I thought we looked better with 11 v 11 on the pitch."
Ebbsfleet: Gregory, Wilson, Blackman, Goddard, Umerah (Adeloye 77), Grimes, Egan (Obileye 29), Sutherland, Ekpiteta, Payne, McGlashan. Subs not used : Palmer, Achuba, Dainkeh. Red card: Blackman
Goal: Obileye 65 pen
King's Lynn Town: Street, Jones, Fox, Jarvis, Barrows, Smith, Carey (Limb 61), Payne, Hawkins (Stewart 79), Marriott (Gash 61), Henderson. Subs not used: Kelly.
Ref: Adrian Quelch