TWO wins inside three days, including one against local-derby rivals LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE, kept up BULWELL’S hunt for the Notts Senior League, Senior Division title.
Bulwell defeated lowly Sandhurst 3-1 and followed up with a narrow 1-0 verdict over Linby.
They remain fully 15 points behind leaders FC Cavaliers, who are still unbeaten this season. But they have five games in hand and, in a packed run-in, they have still to play Cavs in what could be a championship decider on Saturday April 7.
The Linby derby was a poor game, settled by a goal as early as the fifth minute when striker John Manders rose majestically to head home a corner from Allan Jeffries.
Bulwell failed to take full advantage, despite dominating early possession, and allowed the visitors back into it with their crisp passing football.
Yes, Ryan King, Manders and Jay Knight had further chances in the first half. But Linby gave as good as they got and after Matt Murphy had shot over, a drive from Ash Winfield flashed wide.
The Bulls weren’t helped by an injury to skipper Dwayne Soar, who suffered a cut eye after a clash of heads. And they struggled to get going at all in the second period.
Manders lobbed a poor effort wide when clean through. But Linby did most of the probing, pouring men forward in a display that deserved to find an equaliser.
A header by Aaron Ryan, from Jonathan Dakers’ free-kick, brushed a post and then a 25-yard free-kick from Murphy was only a whisker too wide.
Not even a double substitution by managers Steve Osborne and Terry Witts could shake Bulwell from their slumber. And although Connor Carter blazed over when he should have made the game safe, Linby were twice unlucky not to snatch a point in the closing minutes.
First, Hucknall referee Steve Sears denied them a penalty when substitute Matt Peberday appeared to be pushed by Soar and then a tremendous 25-yard volley by Ryan cannoned off a post with goalkeeper James Wheat stranded.
LINE-UP — BULWELL: Wheat/ Murdock, Walker J., Knight (man-of-match), Soar D., Keetley, King, Niblett J., Manders, Carter C., Jeffries. Subs: McCaffrey (for Manders 55), Gretton S. (for Niblett 58), England (for King 71).
LINBY (4-4-2): Miles/ Marlow D., Ball, Jago, Dakers/ Bradshaw J., Ryan (man-of-match), Winfield, Marlow S./ Mann, Murphy. Subs: Peberday (for Mann 53), Howell, O’Neill.
THE Sandhurst match, which started a crucial run of six games in 15 days for Bulwell, marked the debut of new signing, midfielder Mark Green,
Veteran Green, who captained Scots Grey to FA Sunday Cup glory at Anfield in 2009, turned in a man-of-the-match performance as The Bulls eased to three points with two goals from Connor Carter and one from Jeffries.
Carter clinically finished a King flick-on in the 20th minute and then converted a sublime through ball from Green on 44.
In between his goals, Sandhurst did level when Cliff Clarke pounced after goalie Wheat had saved a penalty. But in the second half, Robbie England twice struck the bar before the win was sealed by Jeffries with a low volley from King’s cross in injury-time.
BULWELL LINE-UP — Wheat/ Murdock, Walker J., Knight, Soar D., Niblett J., King, Green, Manders, Carter C., Carter J. Subs: Jeffries (for Carter J. 68), Gretton S. (for Niblett 81), England (for Manders 55).