REVIVED LINBY COLLIERY WELFARE are guaranteed to finish in the top four of the Notts Senior League’s Senior Division after another tonic victory.
Linby grafted their way to a 1-0 victory at Church Lane over struggling Kimberley Miners Welfare — and with a couple of games still to play, they could even finish third.
With a cup final to look forward to against champions-elect Bulwell in mid-May too, these are heady times for Dave Bradshaw and Dave Marlow’s Linby — only a year after they finished rock-bottom of the table with just seven points from 30 matches.
The manner in which Bradshaw and Marlow have transformed the team was not exactly evident against Kimberley. But full credit to George Hulley’s side, who came with a clear plan to stifle the locals and showed lots of determination.
It even looked as if the visitors would escape with a goalless draw until Linby finally found the winning goal 12 minutes from the end. Man-of-the-match Jonathan Dakers curled in a vicious, left-footed free-kick that came back off a post and fell for substitute Jonny Bernard, who gobbled up the rebound, smashing home from two yards to maintain his prolific run of goalscoring form in recent weeks.
The goal enticed Kimberley out of their defensive shell and they almost snatched an equaliser when ever-dangerous striker Jake Fisher was released for a one-on-one but was foiled by goalkeeper Scott Miles.
Earlier Linby had dominated a team they beat 3-0 only 11 days earlier. But with key players such as Aaron Ryan and skipper Mark Jago missing, they struggled to find their usual rhythm.
Right-back Tom Endy hit a 25-yard screamer that visiting ‘keeper Stuart Lewis did well to keep out. And further chances fell to Damian Mann and Matt Murphy.
But it was left to new striker Baz Payne to pose the biggest threat. Payne had a shot saved, from Jonty Bradshaw’s cross, and also went close with a couple of headers, one of which brought a brilliant stop by Lewis.
It was a similar story of frustration in the second period when Payne volleyed into the side-netting. And in a bid to freshen things up, Linby made the risky move of pulling off leading scorers Murphy and Mann.
On went substitutes Aaron Potter and Bernard — and it wasn’t long before bosses Bradshaw and Marlow were rewarded for their bravery.
LINBY LINE-UP (4-4-2) — Miles/ Endy, Peberday, Ball, Dakers/ Bradshaw J., Winfield, Marlow D., Mann/ Murphy, Payne. Subs: Potter (for Murphy 64), Bernard J. (for Mann 72), Prewett (for Marlow D. 85).
LINBY’S scheduled match at Selston in the NSL’s Senior Division on Wednesday night (April 25) was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. The fixture has been re-arranged for Tuesday May 8.