Improving BULWELL survived a late red card to sweep into the top five of the Central Midlands League’s (CML) South Division for the first time on Tuesday night.
Entertaining mid-table Mickleover Royals, Bulwell came from behind to post their third consecutive victory.
And only the 90th minute sending-off of centre-back Ben Moore, which will mean a minimum suspension of three matches, took the gloss off a 3-2 triumph.
The referee had no choice but to show Moore red after he had deliberately elbowed Royals’ star striker Lukasz Rojewski. And the resulting free-kick, some 30 yards out, was smashed into the top corner by defender Andy Bacon.
But it was no more than a consolation goal for the visitors. The Bulls had done the hard work, with Moore himself among those on the scoresheet.
Royals quickly made their attacking intentions known, hitting the bar with a flick from a corner as early as the third minute.
They then struck a post before taking the lead at the end of a frantic opening 15 minutes when Chris Murdock gave away a penalty. Bulwell goalkeeper Matthew Simpson guessed the right way to save Rojewski’s kick, only for the same player to smash home the rebound.
The goal was no more than Royals deserved -- only for the home side to retaliate within four minutes as Marek Vipond levelled with a deft header from Murdock’s cross.
From then on, Bulwell began to run the show and Ian Marley, Conor Carter and Ako Abdullah all missed the target befiore Carter slid under the ‘keeper to make it 2-1 just after the half-hour mark.
The locals came out for the second half with the same attitude and commitment and extended their lead with a superbly-placed header from Moore.
At the other end, Simpson put the cap on a man-of-the-match display with a tremendous one-on-one save.
But Bulwell could have added to their tally as good work by substitute Scott Litchfield set up teenager Rhys Plackett whose effort was too weak and straight at the ‘keeper.
Now the locals face an acid test of their CML credentials in another home match this weekend.
They tackle second-placed Bilborough Pelican, who knocked Arnold Town out of the Notts FA Saturday Senior County Cup last Saturday.