Rams' Under 21's too hot to handle
The first official outing for the Nailers at the newly named Marston’s Stadium, was a prestigious friendly fixture against a Derby County U21 side, writes Joe Malone.
Former Nailer Tom Naylor (4) heads clear from Kieran Wells (Photo; Tim Harrison)
Manager Peter Duffield named a rather more familiar side to the one seen throughout last season, with Jon Froggatt and Mark Ward partnering up front, Colin Marrison back in the side on the left of midfield, and Chris Jones coming in at right back.
It was a night for stern concentration for the Nailers as the Rams moved the ball well from side to side, with chances coming at a premium for the home side.
The first opportunity inevitably came for Derby after 7 minutes, a low shot by former Nailer and Rams skipper, Tom Naylor, whose shot towards the near post and tipped wide by James Martin.
Two minutes later saw the first goal of the game.
A well worked cross from Calero on the left hand side was headed away well by the defender, but the ball dropped for Callum Guy whose tremendous right-footed volley from 20 yards scorched into the top left corner, with nothing that Martin could do to stop it.
Mark Ward produced the Nailers first sighting on goal a minute later, as he cut inside into a central position, and curl a shot towards the top left corner, which rose a yard above the bar.
The Rams found themselves two goals up after 16 minutes following patient play in the middle of the park.
As was the theme of the night for the Rams, their insistence on keeping the ball moving until the chance presented itself proved dividends as Bunjaku saw the diagonal run of Ivan Calero in from the left
Bunjaku picked him out with an inch-perfect pass which was side-footed first time by Calero through the legs of the goalkeeper, earning applause from all parts of the stadium.
It wasn’t long until the third goal came for Derby, as a second strike by Ivan Calero from close range made it 3-0 to the Rams after just 20 minutes.
Alefe Santos did well to beat his man on the right hand side to storm into the penalty area and fire a shot which was saved well by Martin, however Calero followed up to stab the ball home from 8 yards.
The Nailers were nearly caught out two minutes later from another diagonal run by Calero after Naylor had played another superb ball through to him, only for the winger to chip the ‘keeper and send the ball inches wide of the far post.
Further first half chances came for Bunjaku and Santos, as a dominant first half display ensured a comfortable margin by the interval.
The second half was more promising for Belper Town, as a greater amount of control was earned through more intelligent play and the injection of pace into the team.
Bunjaku hit the bar from a free kick, right of centre, and Kwame Thomas rounded the goalkeeper on the left hand side only to place his shot across the face of the goal and wide, all within the first ten minutes of the second period.
Jon Froggatt then had his first effort on goal after a lovely touch on the right hand side to beat Max Lowe to the ball.
Froggatt drove inside, pulling the defence towards him, and unleashing a left-footed effort which was held well by the goalkeeper.
Dave Ratcliffe (pictured)then came on in goal for the Nailers and produced a ‘man of the match’ performance, with a string of fine saves.
Most notably, Santos worked the ball well on the right hand side and dinked a cross to the back post for Thomas, who guided his header down from six yards, but Ratcliffe threw himself across the face of the goal to keep out Thomas’s effort with an extraordinary piece of goalkeeping.
The Rams then had a good chance to make it four, as a foul by Regan Edridge inside the penalty area earned Derby a penalty on the 81st minute.
Ivan Calero, with the chance to claim a hat-trick in front of the watching Steve McClaren, could only blaze his spot kick over the bar.
A final effort from the Nailers came on the 90th minute after a foul 20 yards from goal on the right hand side. Left back, Billy Bennett took charge, but curled his free kick inches over the bar.
Belper Town: James Martin, Chris Jones, Jack Andrews, Ian Ross, Regan Edridge, Dan White, Aaron Cole, Steve Warne, Jon Froggatt, Mark Ward, Colin Marrison. Subs: Kieran Wells, Jordan Ball, Evan Garnett, Gareth Davies, Aaron Pride, Rob Stevenson, Billy Bennett, Dave Ratcliffe, Scot Low.
Derby County U21: Ross Etheridge, Luke Hendrie, Max Lowe, Tom Naylor, Gigi, Sosthene Bah, Alefe Santos, Callum Guy, Gomez, Alban Bunjaku, Ivan Calero. Subs: Cover, Kwame Thomas, Shaquille McDonald, Alexander Gardikiotis, Dean Gardikiotis.
Referee: Oliver Bickle (Derby)