Connor Southwell: Linnets need to restore their mojo in quest for promotion
- Credit: Archant
In the opening six months of the campaign, everything King’s Lynn Town touched turned to gold.
Adam Marriott was scoring goals. The Walks was playing host to scintillating football and the Linnets were romping their way to the title.
The journey of the Linnets over the last 18 months has been extraordinary. Simon Clark departed, Ian Culverhouse returned and guided them to their highest league position since they reformed in 2010.
Nobody predicted a meteoric rise in a division that consists of full-time operations and high budgets.
That's the thing about possessing confidence, it boosts performances and provides those extra percentages needed to end games as victors.
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In football, it is a trait that works as a switch. When a team is confident, they can break down walls and use momentum to keep them rolling.
To say Lynn have achieved all they have due to momentum and confidence would be a massive disservice to the work put in by Culverhouse and his coaching team.
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Evidently, it's a squad oozing talent. But, for the first time since the pair were wed, Culverhouse and the Linnets are experiencing some turbulence.
Since beating York City at the Walks in January, Lynn have lost four of their six. This defeat was their third consecutive loss at home.
Ultimately, this result could pale into insignificance if all major gatherings are suspended in light of the coronavirus outbreak that is affecting sport globally.
The real narrative surrounds the fact the Walks was a hub of footballing activity on a day when the sporting swamp was drained.
That final whistle could be one of the last to echo around the football world this season.
Lynn didn't possess the firepower to devastate a resolute and astute Guiseley side who defended deep and, in Kaine Felix, had a player capable to penetrating defences with his pace.
The Linnets will point towards a questionable performance from the officials as one of the sole reasons they lost the fixture, but a lack of combativeness in midfield and composure in attack proved decisive.
Felix pounced after a poor defensive header and nipped in ahead of Alex Street to tap into an empty net. Yet another example of Lady Luck's current opposition to the Linnets.
From there, Guiseley were happy to soak up pressure and contain. The pattern was set. Lynn were the aggressors and the Lions were looking for counters.
It's in moments like this that Culverhouse earns his corn. His tactical switch from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2 allowed them to overload in wide areas and unleash an aerial bombardment onto the opposing box.
Michael Gash provided a focal point. Simon Power injected pace.
They knocked at the door, but failed to force their way in. Some punters were quick to suggest the train had ran out of steam, whilst most vented their frustration towards the man in black.
As he trudged down the tunnel, the Walks became fixated on him. Each step seemed to evoke more anger.
In the first-half, Lynn were denied a stonewall penalty as Chris Henderson was bundled over in the area after profiting from a defensive slip.
He raced through on goal, only to be bundled over by the defender and Mr Atkinson produced a card, only to award it to the Lynn midfielder for simulation.
Tempers boiled over at full-time. The Linnets assistant manager, Paul Bastock, seemed to be encouraging the chants from supporters berating the officials.
Those on the pitch took it further, Ross Barrows was booked for dissent. Michael Clunan, a man currently occupying the sidelines due to injury, was sent off after he emerged in his tracksuit to protest.
Mr Atkinson then felt the wrath of the home support, the main stand were on their feet, aiming their gestures and frustrations firmly in his direction.
Lynn's director of football, Robbie Back, also saw red for his comments in the tunnel.
But, for Lynn, the frustrations run much deeper. Unwanted trends are beginning to expose themselves. They struggled to break down Guiseley's shape, didn't possess the quality in front of goal and looked a shadow of the side capable of breezing past sides previously.
That switch of confidence has been turned off. The Linnets are in desperate need of a victory they've ground out in order to get the wheels back in motion.
Culverhouse needs to reignite the touch paper, restore the confidence and ensure his squad aren't looking beyond the next fixture - if there is one.
The National League is set to meet on Monday to discuss what happens now. Numerous clubs have confessed to some of the employees are in self-isolation.
One of those sides is Gloucester City - the place the Linnets are set to travel to on Monday.
Those punters were discussing the points per game model they expect to be deployed to fulfil the season as they decide the final standings, should it come to that.
Lynn remain top of the table on those projections, although dented their tally after Saturday's defeat. Promotion can't be the focus in the middle of this rut - Lynn need to rediscover their confidence.