Can Ian Culverhouse create another King's Lynn juggernaut?
PUBLISHED: 21:10 11 November 2018
Matthew Usher Photography
It was just like old times: Ian Culverhouse standing outside the dug-out at The Walks, his King's Lynn Town team picking up points and moving up the table.
There have been changes since we last saw this manager in work-mode at The Walks – most notably the presence of assistant Paul Bastock next to him, as chalk and cheese a combination as you are ever likely to find.
While Culverhouse looked on studiously, making little changes here and there as Lynn gradually not so much took the sting but the enthusiasm out of the visitors, Bastock’s voice boomed out instructions.
Culverhouse doesn’t do hyperbole, so when he gives you a soundbite about what he thinks his team is capable of doing, you sit up and listen.
“We have got to be disciplined in the way we work, we have to have that discipline behind the ball. We have to play compact, so there are little adjustments all over, but the quality is there,” he teases. “We have to be consistent in our level of play and if we do that we will really be a force here. There are good players in there and give them that freedom to play, that is what they can express.
And then he adds: “We have got to get this thing moving and once we do it will be a downhill train – unstoppable.”
Bastock, of course, has been around the non league block as long as Culverhouse has in the pro game. They know the nuances, how to manage opponents and games. And that’s what they did with St Ives.
The visitors were busy in the opening quarter, not allowing Lynn – starting with three at the back in the absence of the suspended Rory McAuley – time to settle into a new shape. But, gradually, Lynn took control. Ryan Jarvis never shies away from possession, Michael Clunan never stops running – complemented by the wicked deliveries into the danger areas by man of the match Ryan Hawkins, with the superb left-back Frazer Blake-Tracey providing the assists from the left.
It was Blake-Tracey who teed up Craig Parker for the opening goal on 54 minutes, but wind back the move to its origin and perhaps you could see Bastock’s influence. Goalkeeper Alex Street, a confident rock at the back, picked up the ball after a rare foray into his territory by the visitors. Quickly, adopting the throw-in technique, he found Chris Henderson, who advanced before running into a yellow shirt. Clunan took over, slipped the ball to the overlapping Blake-Tracey whose cross found Parker. Bang. 1-0.
Street’s part should not be under-estimated.
“He was very decisive,” said Culverhouse. “Alex has seen it so quickly and we broke on them really quick. They had committed a few so it was nice to counter them, the spaces were there and the cross was really good.
“Paul is excited to work with him (Street). He is only going to improve because he will get hard work from Baz and Baz’s knowledge of the game will really help us out.”
Goal number two came just after the hour mark and this time it was sub Jordan Richards – a half-time replacement for the impressive Aaron Jones, who had started the match carrying an injury – who turned provider, planting a ball onto the head of Henderson, who was able to quickly erase the memory of a missed header just moments earlier.
It could have been more as Lynn turned on the style, but, as Culverhouse stressed, it is a start. Nothing more.
“I thought we were excellent, I really did,” he said. “Fair play to the boys, I thought we were in control from start to finish, a good professional performance. We just had to be a bit patient getting that first one, then you can hear the sighs of relief in the place and the confidence grows with the players and that it what it is all about – momentum and driving this club forward.”
Culverhouse knows that to get the fans onside, the team has to produce on the pitch. It’s a two-way street, though, and if both work in unison, then something could be stirring again.
Last season Lynn were hardly out of the promotion picture, falling only at the play-off final hurdle. Now they are happy enough to have moved into the top half of the table after the false start to the season.
Something is definitely stirring...
Lynn: Street, Jones (Richards 46), Fryatt, Blake-Tracy, Jarvis, Parker, Clunan, Henderson (Limb 80), Gash, Marriott, Hawkins (Frohawk 89). Sub not used: Bastock.