Relieved LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE not only beat the freakish weather last Saturday, but also fellow strugglers Holbrook St Michael’s for the rarest of victories.
Not since 19th October -- when they defeated the same Holbrook side 2-1 -- had Linby tasted success in the Central Midlands League, South Division. A run that spanned 11 league and cup games.
But a solitary goal earned them a precious 1-0 triumph for just their third win in 24 matches all season -- and helped them climb out of the bottom three in the table.
The match was one of only four in the division to survive the heavy rain. And it was fortunate to survive a wild thunder and hailstorm on the half-hour, which engulfed Linby’s Church Lane ground.
As the crowd of 75 sheltered in the stands, witnessing a lightning strike too close for comfort, referee Liam Jones took the players off the field for 20 minutes to allow the storm to pass over. The match then finished with the pitch resembling a mudbath.
But manager Dave Marlow found himself indebted, as much as inconvenienced, by the weather because the postponement of Arnold Town’s match in the Northern Counties East League meant that he could name two of Linby’s dual-registration players in his squad.
Centre-back Danny Hayes came in at centre-half, and produced a man-of-the-match display, while former Hucknall Town striker Mitch Slawson was named on the substitutes’ bench.
Hayes also started the move that led to the only goal as early as the second minute. He volleyed a pass to Aaron Ryan, who found Matt Murphy with an inch-perfect pass. The forward turned his man and curled a lovely left-footed shot into the top corner from 22 yards.
Linby failed to add to their tally, but they were always in control, and it would have been an injustice if their Derbyshire visitors had salvaged anything from the game.
Hayes and fit-again skipper Terry Henshaw, renewing their former central defensive partnership at Carlton Town, snuffed out any threat and helped keep a clean sheet for stand-in goalie Luca Rocco, who replaced the injured Rhys Watkinson.
Most of the other chances were created by Linby, with the lively Murphy shooting inches too high and then forcing a superb save from Holbrook ‘keeper Chris Whiteley early on.
After the storm, youngster Ruban Mitchell was just wide with a one-on-one, Hayes had a shot blocked on the line and Whiteley showed his prowess again to deny Ash Winfield and Rhys Davies.
Winfield had to limp off injured at the start of the second period after he was on the receiving end of a poor tackle. But Linby continued to pour forward.
Murphy’s shot was cleared off the line after a cross by strike partner Kyle McDermott, and when Slawson was sent on, he drove a 20-yarder a fraction off target. A second sub, Damian Mann, then teed up a third, new signing Tom Reid, but again Whiteley was there to make the save.
LINBY’S scheduled match against Clifton All Whites this coming Saturday has been postponed because Clifton have a league cup tie to fit in.