A brave attempt to upset the Notts FA Saturday Intermediate County Cup applecart by LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE RESERVES was scuppered in their first-ever appearance in the quarter-finals.
A competition that means so much to Linby, given their history, was just a bridge too far for Jamie Wheatley’s side, who lost 3-0 to Awsworth Villa’s first team.
The Church Lane club first lifted the prestigious trophy way back in 1946, which sent them surfing a ten-year-long crest of a wave as they embarked on further glory in the Notts FA Senior County Cup.
Linby’s first-team won the Intermediate Cup again in 1995 and were finalists in 2009, which puts into context the achievement of Wheatley’s reserves to reach the last eight.
However, they were unfortunate to be drawn against Awsworth, who not only play a division above them in the Notts Senior League (NSL)
They are also a decent outside bet to snatch the NSL’s top-flight championship, having lost only twice all season, and are favourites to land this tourney too.
Linby started well enough -- and the tie might well have taken a different path but for a moment of controversy that went against them in the 12th minute.
Ross Cheeseman volleyed a superb pass to Luke Price, whose shot was fumbled into his own net by Awsworth ‘keeper John King. Everyone on the pitch, and in the crowd of 80, thought it was a goal -- only for the visiting linesman to raise his flag for offside, which the referee belatedly accepted.
To rub salt into Linby’s wounds, the visitors took the lead themselves 17 minutes later when a goalmouth scramble ended with Luke Henson netting from close range.
And it was 2-0 three minutes before the interval as former Bulwell midfielder Josh Niblett released Danny Towle, who went on to score despite looking suspiciously offside.
Linby battled on, despite losing two influential players, midfielder Aaron Potter and centre-back Sean O’Neill, through injury.
They created several good chances in the second half, including a one-on-one for Price, whose shot was saved by King after fine work by Ant Wallis.
First-team striker Damian Mann, who was sent on as a 63rd minute substitute, also went close with a close-range effort saved.
But another disputed decision by the young referee helped Awsworth seal their passage into the semis on 73 minutes.
This time, Linby sub Matt Falconer appeared to be fouled and when play was allowed to carry on, Towle capitalised with his second goal.