NOT content with wrecking their long, unbeaten record in the title race, BULWELL beat tabletopping FC Cavaliers for the second week running to reach the final of the Notts Senior League’s Senior Cup.
Seven days after a 2-1 victory in the league, Bulwell triumphed 3-1 in the cup semis — to set up a showpiece showdown against local-derby rivals, Linby Colliery Welfare, at Arnold Town’s Eagle Valley Stadium ground on Tuesday May 15.
Bulls bosses Steve Osborne and Terry Witts picked exactly the same side for the tie, which was played on the neutral ground of Woodview, home of Cotgrave.
And although they had to endure some scary moments, and even fell behind, they clinched victory with a grandstand finish that yielded three goals in the last 20 minutes.
First, a long through-ball by Chris Murdock was brilliantly brought down by Connor Carter, who smashed his effort beyond the ‘keeper.
Next, striker John Manders finished off terrific work on the left by man-of-the-match Carter.
And then Manders, who has recovered so well this season from a career-threatening broken leg, sealed the win three minutes before the end with a scuffed shot from a Murdock cross.
Now with a month before the final, the locals can concentrate on their pursuit of the league title. They have five games to play and need ten points to guarantee overhauling Cavs.
A goalless first period had begun cautiously for Bulwell, who nearly conceded as early as the third minute when a long throw caused mayhem in the box and the ball ricocheted off the knee of Jamie Walker, forcing ‘keeper Jamie Wheat to tip it on to the bar.
In a tense midfield-battle, chances were few and far between, although Jake Keetley and Josh Niblett grafted away, man-of-the-match Carter was a constant menace and the workrate of Manders was excellent.
The Bulls opened the second half with two golden chances. But skipper Dwayne Soar headed narrowly over, from a Jamie Moore corner, and then Manders sent a 12-yard effort high, wide and handsome when finding himself free in the box.
The entertainment was reduced to surreal farce moments later when referee Mick Leslie took the players off for five minutes to shelter from a ferocious hailstorm.
And when they returned, Bulwell were caught cold as Cavaliers snatched the lead. A long ball was headed out by Murdock — but only as far as Ryan Martt, who fired his shot into the top corner from 25 yards.
BULWELL LINE-UP — Wheat/ Murdock C., Walker J., Knight, Soar D., Keetley, King, Niblett J., Manders, Carter C., Moore. Subs: Carter J. (for King 81), Spencer (Daz) (for Manders 89), Gretton S.