THE crunch match billed as the Notts Senior League title decider left BULWELL dancing for joy after a magnificent 2-1 victory over FC Cavaliers.
At one stage this season, Cavaliers boasted a massive 18-point lead at the top of the Senior Division table.
But Bulwell have gradually whittled that down and last Saturday, they became the first side to inflict defeat on the top dogs to move just three points behind with two games in hand.
The Bulls followed up with a fine 4-2 win at Selston on Easter Monday (their 13th on the trot) to go level with Cavs on points thanks to goals from Connor Carter (2), Ryan King and John Manders.
And that, combined with a second-successive defeat for Cavaliers — a 3-0 reverse against Awsworth Villa on Tuesday night — has left managers Steve Osborne and Terry Witts on the verge of championship glory in their first season in charge of the club.
Cavaliers head the table on goal difference but they have only three fixtures remaining — away to Keyworth United and Linby Colliery Welfare and at home to Wollaton. Bulwell have five, which are away to Ruddington Village and Kimberley Miners Welfare and at home to Ruddington, Hucknall Rolls Leisure and Vernon Villa.
The two teams also have the small matter of a league cup semi-final to tackle tomorrow (Saturday) when the winners are likely to face Linby Colliery Welfare in the final. But if the semi is anything like last weekend’s encounter, The Bulls will hold the upper hand.
They might have been without star player Allan Jeffries, plus injury victims Dave Ward, Robbie England and Jamie Carter. But they were backed by more than 100 supporters on the sidelines and were soon doing most of the pressing.
The breakthrough goal came in the 31st minute when a shot by Ryan King was blocked and striker Manders reacted quickest to poke the ball home from five yards.
Cavaliers almost equalised within two minutes when a long-range effort by Winston Brown rattled the bar of nervous goalkeeper James Wheat.
And 11 minutes into the second half, they did level when a long ball from goalkeeper Dave Martt found Chris Joseph, who had time to pick his spot.
But in general, the home team relied too heavily on livewire Ryan Perkins, who was kept quiet for most of the game by young Jamie Walker, while Cavs’ long-ball approach was always nullified by Bulwell’s impeccable centre-backs Jay Knight and Dwayne Soar.
The visitors’ winner came on 58 as Knight rose majestically to head in a corner and from then on, there was no way back for Cavaliers against a well-marshalled backline, with man-of-the-match Josh ‘Billy Elliott’ Niblett epitomising the hard work of Bulwell’s midfield.
Knight nearly bagged his second of the afternoon before starting a move that led to Manders going close too.
As the clock ticked by, Cavaliers ran out of ideas and the final whistle signalled the end of their run of 25 games without defeat.
n BULWELL LINE-UP — Wheat/ Murdock C., Walker J., Knight, Soar D., Keetley, King, Niblett J., Manders, Carter C., Moore. Subs: Carter J. (for England 81), McCaffrey, England (for Moore 73), Gretton S.