DEPLETED they might have been — but LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE were offering no excuses when savaged by fellow title contenders BULWELL in a one-sided Notts Senior League, Senior Division derby.
“Bulwell were the best team we played this season,” said Linby secretary Adrian Ward. “In my opinion, they will win the league. Their back four were outstanding.”
The Bulls romped to a 4-0 victory that kept them second in the table, eight points behind unbeaten leaders FC Cavaliers with two games in hand.
In contrast, Linby’s sparkling, startling start to the season now seems a distant memory after four defeats and just two wins in seven.
They had no fewer than seven regular first-teamers missing from the side that tackled Bulwell — and expected to make new signings this week. But Ward was philosophical about his side’s status in the first season of new managers Dave Bradshaw and Dave Marlow.
“Despite our great start to the season, we know we are a work in progress,” he said. “Let’s not forget that this time last year, we were rubbish — played 14, lost 13. So we have to be happy with the position we are in now.”
Bulwell were missing a couple of key personnel of their own — joint manager Steve ‘Ozzy’ Osborne, who was on holiday, and rampant leading scorer Allan Jeffries, who has a hamstring injury.
But under the irrepressible tutelage of Terry Witts, they had more than enough, ruthlessly exposing the makeshift Linby line-up with an an impressive, dominant performance from the off.
The only surprise was that the first half remained goalless, especially as Jeffries’ stand-in, Ryan King, caused lots of problems with his trickery and pace and home goalkeeper Scott Miles was forced into several saves.
Linby seemed more content on getting men behind the ball than posing any offensive threat. They continually tried the long ball over the top but found the Bulwell backline, marshalled by man-of-the-match Jay Knight, in superb form.
The breakthrough goal finally arrived in the 58th minute when new signing Craig ‘Jock’ McCaffrey skipped past his full-back and whipped in an excellent ball for Jamie Moore to ghost in and sidefoot home from eight yards.
By now, The Bulls’ slick, quick passing game was too much for Linby, who leaked a second goal 13 minutes later. This time Knight found space at the far post to rise unopposed and head home a Moore corner.
The home team responded by committing more men forward. But Bulwell picked them off on the break with a couple of classic counter-punches.
First Dave ‘Nookie’ Ward stole the ball off a dawdling defender for a shot that was parried by Miles, only for Carl Horder to pick up the pieces.
And then Moore capped a superb performance by rounding the ‘keeper to slot home four minutes from the end.
As The Bulls refused to take their foot off the gas, substitute Robbie ‘Steptoe’ England might even have added a fifth in the closing moments.
n LINE-UP — LINBY (4-4-2): Miles/ Peel, Jago (man-of-match), Howell, Dakers/ Martin, Marlow S., Marlow D., Mann/ Hodgson, Murphy. Subs: Coupe (for Mann 59), Cheeseman (for Martin 59), Prewett (for Hodgson 78).
BULWELL (4-4-2): Wheat J./ Ward, Knight, Soar D., Murdock/ McCaffrey, Keetley, Moore, Horder/ King, Manders. Subs: Carter J., Walker J. (for McCaffrey 63), Gretton (for Keetley 72), England (for Manders 66).