Rocked by yet another defeat, struggling LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE are bracing themselves for a turbulent trip to take on probably the best team in the entire Central Midlands League.
Linby failed to build on their improved performance in a draw against Hucknall Town just before Christmas when crashing 3-0 at home to Allenton United in the CML, South Division.
Now it’s off to moneybags AFC Mansfield, leaders of the North Division, in the last 16 of the league cup this coming Saturday.
Mansfield, who missed out on the title by a whisker last term, have lost just once all season and hammered Hucknall outfit Rolls-Royce Leisure 4-0 in the Notts FA Saturday Senior County Cup.
In winning 17 of their 19 matches, they have already fired 87 goals and boast a goal-difference of plus-74.
Linby -- still just two wins in 23 outings -- attracted their second highest crowd of the campaign (92) for the visit of Derby side Allenton. But as a team, they themselves never turned up.
OK, Allenton sit fifth in the table and are one of the few sides to have beaten tabletopping Bulwell.
And they boast a sprinkling of good players, including much-travelled striker Danny Briscoe, whose pace and trickery can hurt anyone, skipper James Blount, who wasn’t at Derby County as an 18-year-old for nothing, and Michael Meehan, who is probably the best left-back in the division.
But there were still few excuses for Linby’s lame effort, especially as manager Dave Marlow enjoyed the luxury of naming the same back four for the first time in 12 months and welcomed back top striker Matt Murphy.
They were behind from the tenth minute when Briscoe’s cross to the far post found former Ilkeston Town man Dave Carr, who was free to control and finish easily from 12 yards.
The rest of the match revolved around penalty decisions -- two that weren’t given and two that were.
First, Linby’s teenage frontman Joe Butler seemed to be pushed to the floor inside the box -- only for the referee to ignore home protests.
Then, just 60 seconds later, came a bizarre sequence of events triggered by Briscoe going down theatrically at the other end and grabbing hold of the ball.
Rather than book him for simulation or handball, the ref waved play on and pointed to the spot when Briscoe was kicked while on the floor by Linby midfielder Ash Winfield. Blount stepped up to convert the kick.
As Linby tried to fight back, a shot by Charlie Niblett was blocked on the line, but their frustration increased in the 70th minute when another penalty appeal was rejected -- this time when Tom Coupe was wrestled to the ground.
They were handed a lifeline five minutes later when Allenton’s Ben Blackburn was sent off for an over-the-top tackle on Rhys Davies, who later headed off the line from Briscoe.
However, their hopes were finally dashed by a second spot-kick for the visitors in the dying seconds. This time, no-one could deny that Troy Black was tripped, leaving Blount to net again.
The goal capped a ninth defeat in 12 home games this term for Linby in which they have scored only 13 goals but leaked 34.