U21s share points with FBT International in top of table clash
By wynne garnett
U21s maintain unbeaten run with a fine performance away at FBT
The U21s faced a tough Friday night trip to the FBT International Academy on the 3G pitch at Eastwood.
FBTs only defeat all season was in the home fixture at Belper and the full time outfit were looking to put that right.
The game lived up to expectations with some excellent football and chances for both sides.
Belper started quickly and caught the hosts cold after just 5 minutes.
A Butcher cross evaded the Eastwood defenders, was fumbled by the keeper and Constable was on hand to put the U21s ahead.
This was the signal for some sustained pressure by FBT who had a lot of possession, though the Belper backline of Butcher, Brumby, Broughton and Gandola kept their shape well.
However the pressure told and a great diagonal ball found an FBT player free to finish well past Rathbone.
Belper now came back into the game and both sides had good chances prior to the break with Rathbone making a great double save just before half time.
Belper made a change to the shape at half time and emerged much stronger.
Knowles, Barnes and Cartwright began to get a hold of midfield with Bullock and Taylor coming into the game more.
Belper were passing the ball much better and again creating chances. It came as no surprise when Belper went ahead with perhaps the best move of the game.
A succession of pass and move found Bullock in the penalty area and he finished well.
Belper continued to press with Taylor causing particular problems and Constable working hard but despite getting on top there was always a danger from FBT on the break and it was from such a situation that they equalised.
Although the FBT player appeared off side when he received the ball, he ran through to finish well.
As the game drew to a close, both sides continued to have chances.
Constable found himself clear a couple of times, Bullock just missed with a spectacular long range effort and Rathbone made another excellent save to push a long range FBT effort onto the bar.
The game finished 2-2 and over the balance of the two halves, this was probably a fair result.
The U21s were excellent, showing a combination of flair, resilience and organisation against a good side that has the advantage of training full time.
Belper go into their final league game at home against Sandiacre knowing that a win would secure a second league title.
Rathbone, Gandola, Brumby, Broughton, Butcher, Barnes, Knowles, Cartwright, Bullock, Constable, Taylor. Subs. Cain, Taggart, Wood, Sismey, New.