Nailers give Basford a scare
Belper Town came away from Greenwich Avenue with their heads held high despite losing by a single goal against the runaway league leaders Basford United, writes Nigel Oldrini
PHOTO: Leandro Browne is denied by Basford 'keeper, Saul Deeney (Pic: Tim Harrison).
The Nailers' newly appointed manager Aaron Webster took charge of his first league game and introduced two new signings to his starting line up with Burton Albion youth loanee Jack Hallahan and former Matlock Town midfielder Callum Lloyd making their debuts.
The Nailers were without Haydn Goddard who was unavailable, Kieran Harrison (suspension) and Will Dennis, who faces a further two weeks out with a leg injury.
Belper Town's Phil Varney, acting in his role as an official of the Evo-Stik league presented Basford chairman Chris Munroe with the November Team of the Month award prior to the kick off.
The opening 15 minutes belonged to the hosts who showed their pedigree with some attractive football that had everything but a goal to show for it.
This was due in the main to excellent defensive organisation from the Nailers who frustrated Basford's prolific strike force with timely tackles and important headers.
'Keeper Danny Roberts played his part too with a fine save from a Liam Hearn drive on 8 minutes and an even better stop moments later when former Nailer Deon Miekle met a corner kick on the volley and Roberts saved brilliantly.
Dylan Garnett had Belper's first effort on goal in the 15th minute which heralded a good spell for the Nailers in which they took the game to the league leaders and temporarily at least, spoiled the game plan of the home side.
In fact Belper nearly took a shock lead in the 19th minute when Alex Steadman dispossessed Ashley Grayson and fired a narrow angled shot that hit the far post with the Basford defence all at sea.
The Nailers broke swiftly soon afterwards and when the ball reached Max Thornberry on the right, he put over a cross that Dylan Garnett headed just over the bar.
Leandro Browne finished another impressive Belper offensive on 28 minutes with a good shot that took a decisive deflection, however the hosts regained the initiative in the latter stages of the first half.
James Reid saw a fine effort deflected wide for a corner kick on 36 minutes from which Deon Miekle headed wide, and the Nailers had to dig in until half time and defended brilliantly until the break even though there was an anxious moment when Liam Hearn put the ball in the net, only for the referee's assistant's flag to deny him.
The second half was tough going for the Nailers who came up against the best side in the division who wanted to maintain their 15 point gap at the top of the table.
Ironically, Leandro Browne had a golden opportunity to put Belper ahead barely 3 minutes into the half when he escaped the Basford defence and in a one on one with Saul Deeney, the Basford 'keeper made a great stop to deny Belper the lead.
Sadly, an otherwise excellent Nailers rearguard allowed Basford front man Rob Duffy all the time he needed to meet a 48th minute corner to firmly head into the corner of the net to give the league leaders an all important advantage.
Belper managed to keep Basford at bay as they buzzed around their penalty area for long periods, and they were happy to benefit from some indifferent finishing to complement their heroic defending.
Belper's best opportunity to equalise came in the 70th minute when they caught Basford on the break which led to Alex Steadman intelligently pulling the ball back for Jack Hallohan to hit a rising goal bound effort that Saul Deeney tipped over the bar.
With everyone playing to stay in Aaron Webster's long term plans this was a good start against a team hot favourites for promotion, with half the season left to go.
Basford United: Deeney, Grayson, Bartle, Nash, Meikle, Roma, Bell-Toxtle, Fenton, Duffy (Wells 66), Hearn, Reid. Unused subs: Carr, Austin, Wakefield, Brown.
Belper Town: Roberts, Thornberry, Butcher, Lloyd (Williamson 82), Guy, Allen, Baldwin, Hallahan, Steadman (Davidson-Miller 75), Garnett, Browne (O'Connell 67) Subs unused: Atkinson, Rathbone.
Referee: Martin Chester