Frustration was the buzzword after struggling LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE held leaders BULWELL to a surprise 1-1 draw in the latest Central Midlands League, South Division local derby.
Bulwell were kicking themselves after dropping two points in the race for the title, while Linby were asking themselves how they can be languishing in the bottom three of the table when they are capable of results and displays like this.
The Bulls remain two points clear with six games to play. But second-placed Clifton All Whites have a game in hand, while the teams in third and fourth, South Normanton Athlertic and Bilborough Pelican, both won to stay in touch.
Managers Terry Witts and Steve Osborne were angered by their side’s performance, branding it unacceptable and urging the players to “take a long, hard look at themselves”.
But Linby preferred to concentrate on what they felt was a triumph for tactics of manager Dave Marlow.
Marlow opted to match up Bulwell in midfield with a new 4-5-1 formation that included new signing Joe Kearney but excluded star striker Matt Murphy, who was dropped to the substitutes’ bench.
And it worked a treat to round off a week to remember for him after he had passed his UEFA B coaching course at St George’s Park in Burton the previous day.
The Bulls were again without overseas stars Emmanuel Kashila-Kanyinda and Ako Abdullah, and had to turn to third-choice ‘keeper James ‘Fingers’ Logan in goal because of injuries.
But they did welcome back to the fold the likes of Dwayne Soar, Ben Moore, Anthony Gregory and Ian Marley, so there were few excuses for the sloppy way they started the game.
Linby overran them in midfield and twice should have scored when Joe Butler put a one-on-one wide and then Logan rushed out to make a superb stop.
It was against the run of play then when Bulwell snatched a 16th minute lead when Ross McCaughey’s corner curled straight in. And it could have been two moments later when Jamie Walker whistled a free-kick just over the bar.
Linby regained their momentum, spearheaded by lone striker Butler, who had three more chances, two of which were foiled by the inspirational Logan, playing against one of his former clubs.
And although Rhys Watkinson made a cracking save at the other end to deny Walker, The Bulls were all at sea, persuading the management to make two substitutions on the half-hour mark, hauling off Felix Hogg and Richard Saunders.
They didn’t work, though, because Linby missed a penalty before finally netting the equaliser they so deserved.
Defender Mason Frizelle had his spot-kick brilliantly saved after he himself had been clumsily fouled by Logan. But five minutes later, another incisive counter saw Butler beat Jay Knight and cross for Ruban Mitchell to slot home from ten yards against his ex-teammates.
The second half followed much the same pattern as Linby continued to call the tune, only to squander chance after chance, most notably when McCaughey cleared off the line.
Tom Coupe came to the visitors’ rescue in a similar manner at the other end but, by and large, their defence was superbly marshalled by Terry Henshaw and Rhys Davies.
Bulwell did have strong penalty-appeals turned down when Walker was booked for diving. But their display did not warrant a winner.