THE HECTIC charge towards three possible trophies for bubbly Bulwell began with a cup triumph over local-derby rivals, Hucknall Rolls Leisure.
For the second week running, Bulwell booked a semi-final ticket — this time in the Notts Senior League’s Senior Cup, courtesy of a 1-0 victory.
They travel to play First Division high-fliers Southwell St Mary’s in the semis of the Notts FA Intermediate County Cup.
And then they can start thinking about their challenge for the Senior Division championship. Somehow they must squeeze no fewer than 14 games into eight weeks, including one against unbeaten leaders FC Cavaliers, whom they trail by 15 points, but with five games in hand, in the table.
After defeating Rolls, Bulwell have also learned that their opponents in the league cup semis will be Cavaliers — in a tie likely to take place on Saturday April 14 at a neutral venue.
Rolls were determined to make it as difficult as possible for The Bulls, defending doggedly and in depth at every opportunity, while attacking on the break with long-ball tactics.
After a couple of early chances for Connor Carter, one of which produced a terrific save from impressive young ‘keeper Mark Rollson, their strategy seemed to work.
Boosted by an unbeaten run of 18 matches, the home side were full of confidence but were definitely stifled by the visitors and struggled to find any sort of rhythm.
The only other chance of note in the first half was a header from Robbie England that glanced off the bar, with the rebound cleared by the well-marshalled Rolls backline.
Bulwell’s frustrations intensified when Jamie Moore had to limp off injured, to be replaced by debutant and new signing Josh Niblett, who lined up against his brother Charlie, playing for Rolls.
The second half was much the same, with few chances created. Indeed the Hucknall side almost snatched a surprise lead when Dan Poole forced James Wheat into a fine save.
At the other end, Carter had a couple of penalty-claims rejected before he finally scored The Bulls’ matchwinning goal in the 71st minute. Niblett was felled in the box for a penalty that the former Vernon Villa hitman smashed down the middle, giving Rollson no chance.
Allan Jeffries went close to a second goal when his lob bounced agonisingly wide. But despite further injuries to John Manders and Jeffries, Bulwell, inspired by man-of-the-match Jake Keetley, held on with comfort.
LINE-UP — BULWELL: Wheat J./ Ward, Knight, Soar D., King, Keetley, England, Moore, Manders, Carter C., Jeffries. Subs: Carter J. (for Manders), Niblett J. (for Moore), Gretton S. (for Jeffries).
ROLLS (4-4-2): Rollson/ Conn, Short, Paterson D., Tolley/ Poole, Niblett C., Wass, Osbourne/ Start A., McDermott. Subs: Greeley (for Start 70), Brooks, Murray.