Why battle of the giants was a compelling sideshow to the main event
PUBLISHED: 12:06 20 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:16 20 January 2019
As a goalkeeping veteran of more than three decades, Lynn's assistant manager Paul Bastock has seen some meaty battles going on in front of him.
It’s left him with a respect for old-school warriors – and in striker Michael Gash, he believes the Linnets have a master of the art.
The 32-year-old has been around the lower leagues for a while, but shows no signs of battle fatigue - surprising given the battering he takes for the cause.
Henry Eze, a former Lynn player with thighs the size of tree trunks, was the latest defender to try and curb gash’s enthusiasm on Saturday, and who,e he may have kept the Lynn frontman of the scoresheet, he did little to keep him quiet, without resorting to dubious tactics. It was a ‘hands-on’ attitude which raised Bastock’s eyebrow, but the knowing look was one of admiration for the man in the yellow and blue.
Michael Clunan and Gash’s strike partner Adam Marriott got the goals on a day which proved rather more difficult than it should have done, but it was Gash who kept the visiting back four honest.
“I love Gashy,” said Bastock. “Old school – a lot of modern footballers would be thinking, ‘right I think I’ll go and pull out he full back. Not Gashy – he stands there and takes it. Fantastic.
“I think football has changed dramatically and not always for the good and it is nice to see a bit if old-fashioned wrestling against each other and some decent tackles as well.”
Whilst Bastock admired the battle, he was mindful that Gash probably got short shrift from the referee.
“Nowadays you can’t man-handle a forward like that – his arms were all over him. The 87th minute was the first time gave a free-kick to him and that was probably the weakest challenge he did on Gashy.
“That is what you expect from Gashy - he thrives in a battle.”
What Lynn didn’t expect perhaps, was Barwell’s second-half response after Marriott had opened the scoring, tapping home after Frazer Blake-Tracy’s low free-kick had been spilled and Clunan’s free-kick from the same spot had put the hosts in control at the break. Eddie Nisevic pulled one back with 20 minutes to go, but Clunan almost immediately added his second from the spot after Ryan Hawkins had been fouled. Barwell responded again when Brady Hickey headed home, but an equaliser wouldn’t come.