Empire one win from title after Bulwell derby triumph

CONOR CARTER -- scored one of the goals for Empire in the Bulwell derby against Mellish.
CONOR CARTER -- scored one of the goals for Empire in the Bulwell derby against Mellish.

A key clash at the top of the NOTTS COMBINATION was one of only two matches involving Dispatch district clubs to survive another rain-drenched football programme last Sunday.

Premier Division leaders EMPIRE faced potentially one of their stiffest tests of the campaign so far -- away to Bulwell rivals MELLISH.

For although Mellish trailed them by 13 points, they had five games in hand and had suffered only two defeats.

However, a terrific 2-1 victory extended Empire’s advantage at the top of the table to the same margin of 13 points from Blacks Head, who have three games in hand.

Goals from Conor Carter, who plies his trade on Saturdays for all-conquering Bulwell, and Robbie England did the trick. Mellish’s reply came from David Corkhill, whose cross-cum-shot floated over the ‘keeper and into the top corner.

The result means that, in a truncated division now containing only eight teams, Empire will be crowned champions if they win their sole remaining fixture.

Elsewhere in the Combination, only four other matches escaped the clutches of the soggy weather.

And it was a similar tale of waterlogged pitches in the NOTTS SUNDAY MORNING LEAGUE (NSML), where the six divisions hosted just four games.

For the second week running, the quartet of Hucknall teams in the Premier Premier Division -- T8’S, STATION HOTEL, GREEN DRAGON and BARFLYS H20 -- were all wahsed out.

The only side to see action were THE EMPIRE in Premier Division Two -- and that was all thanks to artificial 3G pitches at West Bridgford.

Mind you, relegation-threatened Empire must have wished their trip to play ABP had been called off because they slid to a 5-3 defeat.

In fact, they trailed 4-0 at half-time as ABP, backed by a strong wind, took control with goals inside a 25-minute burst from Rickey Jouhal (2), Tim Jackson and Mark Bird.

To their credit, the Hucknall side refused to buckle and mounted a rousing fightback in the second period.

Alec Morton spotted the ‘keeper off his line to lob home their first goal and after the same player had struck again, incessant pressure led to Kieran Shortland reducing the deficit to 4-3 with ten minutes to go.

However, Empire’s hopes of snatching a dramatic point were dashed in the dying moments when ABP broke and Jouhal completed his hat-trick.

The outcome lifted the home side into second place in the table, but left Empire in the bottom three and desperate for a win against rock-bottom Rempstone in their next fixture.

With the rain refusing to go away, there are already question-marks over several games in both the NSML and the Combination this Sunday.