Pilgrims show their class
By David Laughlin
This was a comfortable victory for the newly promoted Conference North club, but on the other hand it was a very useful test for Andy Carney’s new look Belper side.
Only three players that finished the last campaign with the Nailers were on view in the starting line up and is a good measure as to how much this side has changed over the close season.
Simon Harrison, a midfield player on loan from Harrogate Town made his first appearance for the Nailers and in between the posts, Rotherham United junior ‘keeper Danny Hancock deputised well for the absent Ali Barcherini.
By contrast, Belper’s opposition have kept a settled side from the one that earned promotion through the play offs and it showed throughout the 90 minutes as their pace and skill on the ball was impressive.
The Nailers showed up well in the opening minutes with Simon Harrison’s 3rd minute cross almost finding Jon Froggatt on the edge of the six yard box, but Keiran Murphy managed to clear the danger.
However the Nailers were wide open for Boston’s opening goal scored by Jamie Yates in the 7th minute, after Spencer Weir-Daley split the Belper defence allowing Yates to place his shot into the far corner.
Ryan Semple, an early substitute for Mikel Suarez nearly made it two in the 9th minute but after rounding Danny Hancock, he saw his shot kicked off the line by a Belper defender.
The Pilgrims went close again on 15 minutes when the dangerous Weir-Daley turned and fired a shot just past the far post, however the Nailers levelled the scores four minutes later when Jon Froggatt hit a fiercely struck free kick high into the net from almost 20 yards.
Simon Harrison hit a great drive from 30 yards out minutes later that had Chris Adamson stretching back to tip the ball over, then Boston hit back with efforts from Semple and Weir-Daley that were stopped by Mark Barnard and Danny Hancock respectively.
Matt Plant conceded a soft penalty in the 34th minute to hand Boston a golden chance to retake the lead, and Spencer Weir-Daley thumped the spot kick home giving Hancock no chance.
Arguably Boston’s best goal came five minutes before the break when Marc Newsham weaved his way into the penalty area before threading an inch perfect shot just inside the far post, to put the Pilgrims in charge at the break.
The second half offered less in the way of goal mouth action although not long after the restart a good Belper move saw Lewis Pearce’s shot rebound off Adamson leaving Jon Froggatt to hit the ball over the top.
Danny Hancock pulled off a fine save from Weir-Daley in the 55th minute, then Belper might have reduced the arrears ten minutes later when Barnard’s free kick appeared to fall kindly for Froggatt but he failed to connect with his volley.
The Nailers survived a frantic 30 seconds in the 72nd minute when shots rained in on the Belper goal but somehow they managed to keep the visitors at bay.
A series of substitutions got in the way of the flow of the game and it gradually petered out in the final 15 minutes.
Belper manager Andy Carney said after the game, "I was impressed with Boston and they gave us a good game as I expected them to."
"I thought we had some good spells when we made them defend in depth, but they did expose some weaknesses that we will have to address before the season starts."
"They have kept virtually the same team that won them promotion last season which shows the benefits of a settled side. We will need time to gel and each game we play will help us define our strengths and weaknesses."
Belper Town: Hancock, Thompson, Barnard, Ingall (Mirfin 80), Booker, Plant, Pearce (Benger 74, Harrison, Froggatt (Swindells 69), Jenkins (Ramsay 51), Rushbury (Peel 51).Other subs: Wood, Warriner.
Boston United: Adamson (Butcher 79), Cullingworth, Jellyman, Church (Milson 75), Murphy (Ashton 75), Canoville, Yates (Deane 73), Sleath, Suarez (Semple 5), Weir-Daley, Newsham.
Referee: Nigel Smith (Chesterfield)