Magnificent LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE gatecrashed the title party of champions-elect Mickleover Royals with a famous 2-1 victory in the Central Midlands League’s South Division.
Leaders Mickleover arrived at Church Lane needing only one point to be clinch the league’s coveted prize with four games to spare. But instead they were outplayed by an inspired Linby team warming up in perfect style for their Notts FA Internediate County Cup final next Thursday.
In front of another bumper 100-plus crowd, Dave Marlow’s troops got off to a flying start with a superb goal after only 47 seconds when man-of-the-match Az Ryan hit a wicked shot into the top corner from 30 yards, giving goalkeeper Daniel Dobbie no chance.
They might even have had more as headers by Tom Coupe and Joe Butler were both cleared off the line. And all this from a team missing three key players in goalkeeper Luca Rocco, centre-back Matt Peberday and midfield man Ash Winfield.
Shellshocked Mickleover did equalise in the 28th minute. But it was only in controversial circumstances when a penalty was harshly awarded against stand-in ‘keeper Gary Hickman as he raced out to nudge the ball away from oncoming striker Joe Brockley, who fell over him.
Ex-professional Dan Martin duly converted the kick, but Linby restored their lead five minutes into the second period with what proved to be the winner. Good work by Butler and Coupe set up teenager Kaylum Mitchell, who thumped home a low drive off the far post.
Eight minutes later, Mitchell’s brother, Ruban, should have made it 3-1, only to see his penalty saved by Dobbie after Butler had been chopped down in a one-on-one. And Linby went agonisingly close again when Butler’s shot, through a sea of legs, hit a post and rolled along the line before being hacked away.
Mickleover did hit a post late on, through Pete Aliguma. But an equaliser would have been rough justice on Linby, for whom Butler and the speedy Dale Chapman were always dangerous up front and both Ryan and Rian Charles had massive games in front of a solid backline, superbly marshalled by Terry Henshaw.
LINBY LINE-UP (4-4-2) -- Hickman/ Frizelle M., Henshaw, Loydall, Coupe/ Mitchell R., Ryan, Charles, Mitchell K./ Butler, Chapman. SUBS: McDermott (for Chapman 79), Peberday, Marlow D.