Bulwell charge ten points clear at the top

MATCHWINNER -- new signing Darren Garmston (left), whose exquisite free-kick won the points for Bulwell.
MATCHWINNER -- new signing Darren Garmston (left), whose exquisite free-kick won the points for Bulwell.

Beaming BULWELL forged TEN points clear at the top of the Central Midlands League, South Division after exacting sweet revenge on shellshocked South Normanton Athletic.

For the second week running, Bulwell came from behind against one of their main rivals for the title.

The 3-2 win wiped out the memory of a humiliating 6-0 defeat at the hands of Normanton last September.

And as an added bonus, they heard of a shock reverse elsewhere for fellow high-fliers Bilborough Pelican, against whom The Bulls grabbed a 2-2 draw the previous Saturday.

Pelican lost 2-1 at home to Real United, leaving Terry Witts’s troops clear favourites to be crowned champions in the first season in the league.

They have nine games to play, knowing that the destination of the championship is now in their own hands.

It was a riproaring contest last Saturday as Bulwell marked their first game at their weather-battered Greenwich Avenue since Christmas.

They were without a cluster of key players, such as Emmanuel Kashila-Kanyinda (injured), Conor Carter (suspended), Ian Marley (flu), Ako Abdullah and Ben Moore (work commitments).

However, already bedding in a posse of new signings, they introduced two more in youngster Connor Croft and ex-Mansfield Town trainee Aaron Marks, and began the match like a house on fire.

Left-back Ross McCaughey and midfielder Jamie Walker brought fine saves from ‘keeper Scott Whittingham. And although Danny Roberts should have done better for Normanton, man-of-the-match Darren Garmston was running the show in midfield for Builwell, with Ryan Bowen in sizzling form on the flanks against his former club.

It came as a surprise then when The Shiners opened the scoring in the 26th minute as poor marking from a corner gifted lethal leading marsksman Shane Newton a goal.

But it didn’t take Bulwell long to not only equalise but also go in front by the break -- even though they had to undergo a reshuffle because of a knee injury to defender Chris Murdock.

First, a cross from Bowen was headed home by Marek Vipond, who left Whittingham picking daisies. And then, McCaughey swung in a corner for Jay Knight to head in at the back post.

Dominant Bulwell had every reason to be chuffed with their first-half efforts., But the second half was only minutes old when Normanton were level at 2-2. McCaughey was adjudged to have fouled for a penalty that Lee Sutton dispatched with aplomb.

It was game on now and as The Bulls sat back, the visitors squandered a gilt-edged chance when former Hucknall Town midfielder Sam Sims headed over the top from close range.

The locals also showed signs of tiredness -- but still conjured up what proved to be the winner 16 minutes from time. Walker was brought down for a free-kick 25 yards out that Garmston deftly floated over the wall and into the bottom corner.

Two minutes later, it could have been 4-2 as Knight headed against a post.

But The Shiners hadn’t finished yet and forced goalkeeper James Wheat into a couple of crucial late saves, spreading himself to deny Newton and then tipping over a dangerous cross-cum-shot.