Belper’s fine form continues
Belper Town made it three successive victories after defeating Spalding United 2-1 to leapfrog the Tulips in the table, writes Nathaniel Kay.
Caretaker manager Wynne Garnett took charge again, as the permanent managerial role remains vacant.
Unsurprisingly, his team selection was virtually identical from last week, the only exception being Max Thornberry who came in for Jorge Knowles at full back.
Less than perfect pitch conditions led to a sluggish start to the game, lacking any zip or pace, which had been a feature of Belper’s last outing.
Spalding looked to crosses as their main ammunition in attack.
From one of these, the ball fell kindly in the box for Jamie Jackson only for the former Belper player to be denied from close range by Danny Roberts.
Belper’s first meaningful attack saw Alex Steadman surging in from the left, squaring to Dylan Garnett who’s shot was blocked. The ball then fell to Kieran O’Connell but his effort was smothered expertly by Michael Duggan.
John Guy then pulled off one of many perfectly timed challenges to deny Gary King, encapsulating a quality captain’s performance.
Garnett has galvanised the team since stepping in and a new-found confidence is clearly beginning to build.
This paid dividends for the opening goal after 37 Minutes when Will Dennis’ long range strike was denied by Duggan, who could only push the ball into the path of Kieran O’Connell who finished expertly.
Despite a largely untroubled half for the Nailers, Spalding fashioned a couple of half chances mainly through Jackson, firstly heading into the hands of Roberts and then attempting from range.
The Nailers came straight out of the blocks in the second half.
Just five minutes in, Dylan Garnett released a clever return pass into Leandro Browne’s feet who in turn laid the ball off to Alex Steadman.
The rejuvenated Belper striker stabbed the ball just over the line despite the efforts of the covering defender.
A change in the Belper formation was then implemented by Garnett which gave the back four a bit more protection and provided a platform to go forward.
Leandro Browne was bubbling throughout the game, breaking his stride to cut inside and managed to keep Duggan on his toes with a low save.
The Tulips rarely blossomed, yet grabbed a lifeline on 70 minutes after an accurate cross met the head of substitute Jonny Lockie, stearing the ball past Roberts who could do nothing to stop it.
But it was the home side who should have seen the game out comfortably but Browne skewed over from six yards out in a golden opportunity to add a third goal.
Instead, a wave of pressure began from the visitors.
Lee Beeson’s wicked free kick went all the way through without a touch to clip the outside of the post.
Hearts were in mouths in the final minute, as Lockie found space inside the area to take a shot at goal, only for Roberts to get his huge frame in the way.
Despite a nervy final fifteen, Belper protected their lead and gained another valuable three points as they continue to climb the table.
Belper Town: Roberts, Thornberry, Goddard, Allen, Guy, Harrison, Browne (Birks 77), Dennis, Steadman (Hutchinson 84), O’Connell, Garnett. Unused subs: Barr-Rostron, Butcher, Rathbone.
Spalding United: Duggan, Fixter (Spafford 71), Jackson, Davison, Humble, Walker, Maddison (Neil 63), Beeson, King, Jackson (Lockie 45), Acar. Unused subs: Smith.
Referee: Mark Tinsley