Gresley defeat Belper Town in a frustrating performance
Belper Town struggled to make an impact against Gresley FC in the New Years Day fixture at the Marston's Stadium, however despite losing the game there was an improvement on the debacle at Lincoln two days previously, Writes Nigel Oldrini.
Manager Aaron Webster drafted in Alex Steadman to the side that finished at Ashby Avenue but we had to wait until the second half before the Nailers upped their game to an acceptable level.
By then they were already two goals adrift and although The Moatmen had the majority of possession in the first 45, Belper appeared to have improved defensively compared to their showing at Lincoln.
The visitors might have taken the lead in the 6th minute after Reece Morris provided a great pass for Thomas Manship but Gresley wasted their opportunity. Jahvan Davidson-Miller had a weak shot saved by Callum Hawkins in th 9th minute, however The Moatmen broke away immediately and Matthew Melbourne escaped the attentions of the Belper defence to tuck the ball away just inside the near post.
The visitors were in control at this stage and Daniel Quinn threaded a teasing cross into the six yard area and Belper were fortunate not to concede another. Disaster struck the usually reliable Danny Roberts on the half hour mark when he fumbled a routine take from a Thomas Manship corner and Matthew Melbourne just had to nod the ball over the line for his second goal of the afternoon.
The Nailers were fortunate that Kieran O'Connell was well placed to head Josh Eggington's header off the line on 35 minutes, then trickery from Reece Morris left players in his wake before Danny Roberts saved his shot at full stretch.
In between times the Nailers had only their second shot on target in the first half when Haydn Goddard's effort was saved by Hawkins on 37 minutes.
Goddard was essential to restricting The Moatmen's lead at the break when he cleared Daniel Quinn's unchallenged header off the line two minutes later.
Belper looked better in the second half and certainly made Gresley work harder for their eventual victory.
But again there was precious little end product despite a more lively attacking strategy however The Moatmen still continued to look dangerous on the break.
One of the Nailers' best moves came in the 53rd minute and ended with a disappointing shot off target by Alex Steadman, then we had to wait until 12 minutes from time for Belper to get close again and this time Kieran O'Connell's close range header was grasped well by the 'keeper.
Beyond this, only Haydn Goddard came as close again when he let fly with a 22 yarder on 85 minutes and the game petered out tamely with Gresley grateful to have taken all three points much too easily from a Belper perspective.
Belper Town: Roberts, Thornberry, Goddard, Lloyd (Hallahan 69), Guy, Harrison, Allen (Birks 45), Williamson, Davidson-Miller, O'Connell (Garnett 80), Steadman. Unused subs: Butcher, Baldwin.
Gresley FC: Hawkins, Roome, Eggington, Barrett, Phillips (Harrison L 67), Manship, Law, Morris, Quinn (Danquah 61), Melbourne, Bassett (Hill 86). Unused subs: Stevenson.
Referee: Ryan Haynes