Nailers youngsters hang on for the points
From a position of almost certain victory, this young Nailers side almost threw it away in the second half and ended the game nervously hanging onto the three points.
It had all looked so good in the first period as the Nailers raced into a four-goal lead at the interval.
After a relatively even opening 20 minutes, Belper finally edged in front when Joel Cain released a superb through ball to Brandon Doherty who ran forward and crashed a shot in off the cross bar from just inside the penalty area.
Five minutes later and Belper extended their lead when Josh Bullock’s pass allowed Scott Taylor to leave the Radcliffe defenders in his wake and he coolly chipped the ball over ‘keeper Joel Fletcher.
Belper extend their leader further on the half hour mark when a repeat of the move for the opening goal saw Doherty again clear of the Radcliffe defence and this time he slotted the ball into the far corner with the outside of his foot.
Fletcher then denied the Nailers with two high quality saves, first tipping over a 25-yard blockbuster from Joel Cain and then doing likewise from Scott Taylor’s volley that was destined for the top corner.
But on the stroke of half time, an unmarked Taylor headed at the far post after the Radcliffe defence had left him unattended from a left wing corner.
But, if all looked rosy for the Nailers at the break, they were in for a severe shock in the second 45 minutes.
Radcliffe substitute Adam Leach fired in a angled shot after 50 minutes which sailed past Nailers ‘keeper Jack Repton and gave a hint of what was to follow.
Joel Cain restored the Nailers’ four-goal cushion after 56 minutes with a finely struck 20-yard free kick that flew into the top corner, but that was as good as it got for the Belper youngsters in the second period.
Stephen Stretton was next on the Boro’ score sheet with a fine low drive into the bottom corner after the Nailers had made a hash of clearing the ball effectively.
Radcliffe were then awarded a soft looking penalty after 77 minutes. Belper skipper Sam Weston (pictured) tangled with Mujinga Makelele giving Radcliffe faint hope of gaining some unexpected reward from the game. Adam Leach made no mistake from the penalty spot.
And Belper’s nerves began to jangle after 79 minutes when Leach recorded a fine hat trick when his glancing header from a right wing corner crept in at the neat post.
There was still over 10 minutes play at that stage and with the referee generously adding on another six minutes of added time, it all added up to an uncomfortable finish for Tom Donlon’s young charges.
Team: Repton, Rodgers, East, Cain, Weston, Higton, Gandola, Bullock, Doherty, Taylor, Parker. Subs: Dronfield, Pickering, Nixon, Literski, Barrow, Tilley, Evans
Referee: David Barlow (Derby)