RELIEVED LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE celebrated their first win in the Notts Senior League’s Senior Division for more than two months when seeing off perennial strugglers Sandhurst.
Not since November 12 had early-season tabletoppers Linby tasted success — amid a creaky run of just nine points from 11 games.
But they beat Sandhurst 4-2 to stave off the threat of them being overtaken in the table by local-derby rivals, Hucknall Rolls Leisure.
Mind you, they made it harder than it should have been, frittering away a host of chances, especially in the first half, which remained goalless.
Simon Marlow thumped the bar with a free header from six yards, a 20-yard drive by fit-again midfielder Aaron Ryan grazed the post and one-on-ones were squandered by both Ryan and Damian Mann, as visiting ‘keeper Simon Griffiths stood firm.
Thankfully, the second period was only two minutes old before Linby finally broke the deadlock — striker Mann sliding home yet another one-on-one from a through ball by Ryan.
And just a couple of minutes later it was 2-0 as Simon Marlow converted a penalty after a trip on centre-forward Ricky Hodgson.
Sandhurst emerged from their defensive shell to halve the deficit on 56 when centre-back Mark Summers rose to plant a header from a corner.
But yet another picture goal from Linby’s star player, Matt Murphy, restored the status quo as the 21-year-old drifted past two men to find the bottom corner with a vicious angled drive from 20 yards.
The plucky visitors refused to lie down and pulled another goal back two minutes later when Summers popped up with another header.
And they even thought they’d equalised on 85 when skipper Cliff Clarke broke clear to score — only for the referee to pull play back for an earlier foul on a teammate.
But there was little doubt that Linby were superior and having been denied by the woodwork again — this time substitute Matt Clowes striking a post — they wrapped up their win in the 88th minute. Good skill by Murphy left three men trailing in his wake before he teed up Aaron Potter for a tremendous left-foot shot that screamed into the top corner from just outside the box.
There was time for one more piece of audacious bravura from man-of-the-match Murphy, who hit a stunning volley that cannoned off the bar.
LINBY LINE-UP (4-3-3) — Miles/ Marlow D., Howell, Jago, Dakers/ Marlow S., Ryan, Potter/ Mann, Hodgson, Murphy. Subs: Clowes (for Hodgson 59), Falconer (for Howell 70), Bradshaw (for Mann 78).
n IN the quarter-finals of the league cup on February 18, Linby have drawn the same Sandhurst team at home.
The tie of the round is a local derby between Bulwell and Hucknall Rolls Leisure. Other games see Burton Joyce entertain Wollaton, and Kimberley Miners Welfare host FC Cavaliers.