GOALKEEPER Scott Miles was the hero as LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE survived a penalty-miss and a long injury-delay to scramble into the final of the Notts Senior League’s (NSL) Senior Cup.
Senior Division high-fliers Linby were given an uncomfortable ride in a close semi by Second Division tabletoppers and underdogs Burton Joyce.
And their twitchiness was not helped when the tie was held up for fully 55 minutes as Burton Joyce full-back Roman Easom sustained a suspected dislocated knee-cap just before half-time.
Not wanting to move Easom, officials decided to wait until paramedics arrived at the ground to cart him off to hospital.
Both sides went on to squander spot-kicks. But amid all the drama, a masterful performance by Miles, plus a classy goal from inspired new signing Baz Payne, enabled Linby to hold on for a 1-0 victory and a place in the final against local-derby rivals, Bulwell.
The tie was played at the neutral ground of Regatta Way, home of another Division Two outfit, West Bridgford.
It wasn’t a classic by any means but Miles was unleashing his antics from the opening moments when producing a top-drawer save to deny Burton Joyce’s Mark Buckle in a one-on-one.
In an extraordinary response, Linby had no fewer than three headers cleared off the line in the space of nine minutes — twice to foil Aaron Ryan and then to deny Payne.
And as the end-to-end action continued, man-of-the-match Miles pulled off two more brilliant saves from a shot by Sam Buckle and then a rasping 25-yarder from Mark Buckle, which he tipped on to the bar and caught the rebound with one hand!
Yet another goalline clearance prevented top scorer Matt Murphy giving Linby the lead. But after the injury hold-up, they emerged looking hungry and bagged the crucial winning goal within four minutes.
Damian Mann swung over a corner and Payne wriggled free of his marker before sweeping the ball home on the volley from eight yards.
Three minutes later, it should have been 2-0 when a sublime piece of skill by Mann tempted a defender into giving away a penalty. But Simon Marlow, normally so reliable from the spot, saw his kick saved by ‘keeper Adam Swietlinski.
The miss looked like being costly when Burton Joyce were awarded a penalty of their own on the hour after Miles was harshly adjudged to have brought down Ryan Easom. But the Linby cat simply dusted himself down to superbly save Danny Harris’s kick.
Burton Joyce poured men forward in their search for an equaliser. But Linby’s back four of Dave Marlow, Matt Peberday, Mark Jago and Jonathan Dakers held firm.
Indeed the locals created the best chances on the counter as Murphy and Mann were unusually wasteful, sending shots wide.
LINBY LINE-UP (4-4-2) — Miles/ Marlow D., Jago, Peberday, Dakers/ Mann, Ryan, Winfield, Marlow S./ Murphy, Payne. Subs: Bradshaw J., Endy T., Bernard J., Prewett, Howell.