Chances missed, soft goals conceded, penalties not given. It was a tale of woe that encapsulated LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE’S season near the foot of the Central Midlands League’s South Division.
A large crowd that included non-league groundhoppers from as far away as Kent went home in disbelief that Linby had failed to beat mid-table Mickleover Royals.
Instead the Derbyshire visitors pinched a 2-1 triumph to condemn Dave Marlow’s men to their 18th league reverse of a torrid season.
Marlow shuffled his pack, selecting midfield wizard Aaron Potter after numerous man-of-the-match displays to inspire Linby’s reserves to a cup final. And orchestrator Potter stood out as the best player on the pitch in a first half that really should have ended with the home side four or five goals up.
Joe Butler, Ruban Mitchell and Adam Fox all squandered one-on-ones, while Butler’s header was foiled by Mickleover ‘keeper Ash Warner and a flying header from Tom Coupe flashed inches wide.
A frustrating half ended with the referee rejecting appeals for a penalty after visiting centre-back Ben Osbourne appeared to handle.
And the second half opened amid more controversy as Mickleover full-back Gaz Oliver also seemed to handle in the box when Matt Murphy tried to turn.
So you can imagine Linby’s anguish when, after all their openings, they fell behind in the 59th minute in the visitors’ first real attack of the game -- substitute Toby Wainwright hitting a hopeful shot from 25 yards that took a deflection past ‘keeper Rhys Watkinson.
As the match opened up, chances fell at both ends. Ruban Mitchell was unlucky with a 30-yard lob before Linby levelled with a superb goal in the 75th minute. Ash Winfield carried the ball from the halfway-line and, after playing a one-two with Butler, he struck a sweet left-footer from 25 yards into the top corner.
It was a goal that deserved to earn the locals a much-merited point. But it wasn’t to be.
Six minutes from time, Mickleover seized on a sloppy pass, and Tom Sheffield beat Watkinson with an angled shot from 14 yards for a most unlikely winner.