Double-chasing Rollers book place in cup final

KING BILLY -- midfielder Billy Brooks marked his return to the team with a man-of-the-match performance in Rolls's cup semi
KING BILLY -- midfielder Billy Brooks marked his return to the team with a man-of-the-match performance in Rolls's cup semi

What a day for HUCKNALL ROLLS LEISURE! Not only did they book a place in the final of the Notts Senior League’s Senior Cup, they were also handed a boost in their push for the champions’ crown.

Rolls held on to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over top-flight rivals Wollaton in the semi-finals of the cup.

They will now meet former groundshare rivals, Boots Athletic, in a repeat of the 2011 final, on a date and at a venue to be fixed.

But equally importantly, from elsewhere came news that top-of-the-table Kimberley Miners Welfare had suffered a rare and surprise defeat -- 3-1 at Burton Joyce.

This left The Rollers six points behind Kimberley in the table, but with a vital match in hand.

Sadly, they lost that match in hand, 3-0 at home to Magdala Amateurs, on Wednesday night, and are now being stalked for second spot by Selston..

Jez Corthorn and Jonathan ‘Toddy’ Wass’s team went into the semi-final on the back of a worrying run of only one goal in three games.

So they made the bold decision to drop striker Reece Jackson and switch left-back Ash Marshall to the frontline to play just off Andy Start.

Drafted in from the reserves were Adam Tolley to cover for Marshall, and Billy Brooks, who replaced the suspended Kane Matthews in midfield and responded with a man-of-the-match display.

The changes seemed to pay dividends straight away because Rolls started the tie very brightly, with Brooks and Greg Conn linking well down the right. Brooks even came within a whisker of opening the scoring when his thunderous 20-yard drive smashed against the underside of the bar and bounced clear.

Wollaton always carried a threat going forward, and it took two smart saves by Jake Pearson to keep them out, First he turned over a looping header and then he blocked a close-range header.

Rolls just about held the upper hand, however, and after Marshall had been bundled over for what looked like a penalty, they went in front on 43 minutes. Brooks flicked the ball on and there was Start to finish from a tight angle for his side’s first goal in 271 minutes of football.

It proved to be the winner too because the second half was a very scrappy, frustrating affair, littered with free-kicks and stoppages.

Rolls got bogged down in their own half, unable to get the ball wide and threaten as they had in the opening period. But at least they defended stoutly to keep their third successive clean sheet.

They had to cope with numerous set-plays, one of which produced an almighty goalmouth scramble. But even though Wollaton threw everything at them, including during five minutes of injury-time, they survived.

In fact, Rolls had a half-chance to snatch a second when Start fired into the side-netting.