Nailers extend unbeaten run against Romulus
Belper Town showed how far they have come under Aaron Webster's stewardship with a hard fought victory on the plastic pitch at Romulus FC, writes Nigel Oldrini.
Picture: Credit to Tim Harrison
It was anything but a comfortable afternoon against a hard and uncompromising Romulus outfit who, if they could only find someone to put the ball in the net, wouldn't be in the position they now find themselves in.
Put simply, the Nailers took the only two clear cut chances they created whereas the Roms couldn't get past a well organised Belper defence that contained, surely the shortest central defender in any side playing in the country last Saturday.
Dominic Allen belied his diminutive stature and gave a magnificent display against some of the toughest and uncompromising forwards the Nailers have played against this season.
Add to this Lee Williamson's polished display in midfield then the Nailers arguably had the two most influential players on the pitch.
It wasn't all about these two however as this was a magnificent team performance, and while the hosts had the lion's share of possession, it was Belper who had the killer touch when it mattered most.
Desperate for points and with games running out, Romulus went at Belper like a runaway express train and the first 20 minutes or so belonged in the main to the hosts.
The Nailers survived a lightning attack in the 10th minute as Romario Martin sent over a wicked cross from the left and Jordan Frances toe poked the ball inches wide of the far post, then in the following minute Malachi Farquharson put a free header over the crossbar from 10 yards when he should really have scored.
This was the pattern of the early stages with Romulus dominating and Belper having to bide their time in waiting for their own chance to get forward.
Yohan Ruth-Smith saw his goal bound shot blocked by Dominic Allen on 17 minutes but after this the Nailers managed to break out and relieve the pressure on their defenders.
Then in the 21st minute Belper stunned the home side by scoring an excellent goal.
After some good build up play, Dylan Garnett worked the ball on to his left foot and delivered a perfect cross over the Romulus defence and in to the path of Jonathan Jebbison arriving at the far post, and he converted the opportunity clinically.
Undeterred, the Roms renewed their efforts and kept the Nailers busy until half time, but the closest they came to an equaliser was in the 33rd minute when Malachi Farquharson hit a perfectly struck volley goal bound, and Joe Searson-Smithard in the Nailers' goal reacted with a magnificent reaction save to preserve Belper's lead.
It wasn't all Romulus though as Belper strung together some impressive passing moves with Williamson at the heart of most of them, although Billy Spink was rarely troubled.
The second half followed a similar pattern with the hosts asking most of the questions, and Belper providing most of the answers.
Roms' skipper Cameron Lee headed over a good chance at the start of the second period, and Kris Taylor was similarly wasteful two minutes later as he nodded over a corner kick.
Belper didn't meaninfully show up in the hosts penalty area until the 65th minute when Dylan Garnett cut inside to fire a low shot directly at the 'keeper.
A visionary pass from Lee Williamson a minute later saw Garnett run free but his header went straight at Billy Spinks and Belper matched Romulus pass for pass until the 80th minute when Cameron Lee volleyed another good chance over the bar.
As the Nailers finished the game more strongly, Sam Birks made a good run into the penalty area and made space for a shot to the far post but Spinks managed to turn the ball wide.
In the 84th minute Belper had the Roms at sixes and sevens ,and as a Kieran Harrison shot came off the post, the ball was returned into six yard area where Dominic Allen forced the ball over the line to give the Nailers a two goal cushion.
To their credit the Roms gave their all in the last few minutes to try and retrieve something from the game and were rewarded with a penalty kick after a Belper defender tripped Malachi Farquharson, and Romario Martin converted the spot kick.
The Nailers played out the last few minutes comfortably enough to clain the points, however it was difficult not to feel some sympathy for Romulus whose efforts perhaps should have yielded some reward.
It's five games undefeated for Aaron Webster's young team and his players are performing much more consistently in recent weeks.
Romulus: Spink, Jackson M, Williams, Lee, Taylor, Palmar (Jackson N 60), Francis, Coyle, Farquharson, Martin, Ruth-Smith. Unused subs: Perkins, Santos, Wilson, Seagent.
Belper Town: Searson-Smithard, Hunt, Goddard (Thornberry 29), Lloyd, Allen, Harrison, Steele (Cole 83), Garnett , Steadman (Birks 72), Williamson, Jebbison . Subs. Not used: McIntosh and Daniels
Referee: Mark Tinsley