Belper Town 0 North Ferriby United 1
By David Laughlin
Belper Town faced North Ferriby United in a friendly fixture at Christchurch Meadow and this was their first game since the players met up for pre-season training three weeks earlier.
New signings Simon Harrison and Ryan Mallon were named in the starting line-up and there was a host of substitutes in the dug out, all waiting for their opportunity to impress.
It was an even start to this game and it took eight minutes for the first shot to arrive and this was from Ferriby striker Jack Muldoon who burst through to fire the ball over the top.
Ben Leonard went close with a shot across the face of goal 3 minutes later, and Paul Foot nearly handed the Nailers the first goal of the afternoon when he dwelt on the ball in the 19th minute but Ashley Longstaff, with just the ‘keeper to beat, couldn’t direct the ball into the goal.
Longstaff had a half chance moments later but couldn’t connect properly, then in the 25th minute Aaron Pride overlapped on the left and Mark Ward just failed to make proper contact after Pride picked him out with an early cross into the box.
Chris Hall chipped the ball high over the bar in the 26th minute after an isolated Ferriby attack, and it was Belper who were leading the way against their Premier Division rivals.
The Nailers produced a good passage of play down the left flank and it deserved a better ending as Adam Nicklin got a vital touch to Longstaff’s shot.
The Nailers lost Ryan Mallon with an ankle injury on 32 minutes and he was replaced by Andy Rushbury who entered the fray much sooner than he would have expected to.
Jack Muldoon snatched at a good opportunity in the 37th minute when the ball fell to him on the corner of the six-yard area, and he made poor contact and missed the target by two yards.
The Nailers put Adam Nicklin under pressure with some teasing crosses in the latter stages of the half, and they could have taken the lead in the last minute when Mark Ward linked up with Ashley Longstaff, but once again the Ferriby ‘keeper got a vital touch to deny Belper.
There was a raft of substitutions for both sides at the start of the first half and while the Nailers were settling in to a new defensive pairing, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 50th minute when marksman Gary Bradshaw headed in a Ben Hunter corner kick at the near post.
The Nailers tried to fight back and stretched the visitors particularly on the break, and in the 65th minute Glyn Cotton hit a finely struck effort that Antoni Pecora was grateful to push away.
Jordan Turner struck a low shot from the edge of the penalty area that the ‘keeper was able to save comfortably and as more substitution were made the game became more disjointed and there didn’t seem any possibility of further scoring.
Manager Peter Duffield will take some satisfaction from this first outing against a strong North Ferriby outfit that had already played twice, but with more than 21 players currently at his disposal, the remaining five friendly games are likely to be very competitive indeed as he whittles his squad down to 16 to 18 players.
Belper Town: Aaron Chapman (Dave Ratcliffe 45), Aaron Pride (Sam Vickers 63),Greg Wright (Ashley Worthington 82), Ben Leonard, Dan White (Karl Colley), Michael Simpkins (Jon Froggatt 45), Simon Harrison (Ashley Hunter 60), Steve Warne (Ben Gowing 60), Mark Ward (Glyn Cotton 45), Ashley Longstaff (Jordan Turner 45), Ryan Mallon (Andy Rushbury 32)
NFU (First half): Adam Nicklin, Steve Gardner, Steve Ridley, Nathan Peat, Gregg Anderson, Paul Foot, Chris Hall, Russell Fry, Jack Muldoon, Lee Morris, Chris White
NFU (Second half): Antoni Pecora, James Williams, Sam Belcher, Nathan Peat, Mark Gray, Neil Stevens, Russell Fry, Chris Hall (Timothy Taylor 60) Ben Hunter (Steve Ridley 55), Lee Morris, Gary Bradshaw,
Referee: S Cook (Belper)