Nailers respond to secure league cup progress
By David Laughlin
Belper Town progressed into the next round of the Integro League Cup with a strong performance in which they dominated for long periods, writes Nigel Oldrini.
All the Nailers needed was to enjoy better fortune and quality in front of goal and the tie would have been won by half time, yet it required a headed goal from the smallest player on the field to send the game into a penalty shoot-out.
The Nailers were missing some key players but those that replaced them made the most of their opportunity and for the few supporters that travelled to deepest Lincolnshire to watch the game, they put on a display that was in total contrast to the one against Cleethorpes a few days earlier.
Belper got into the groove quickly with Nathan Curtis and Jake Sturgess having efforts saved by the Tulip’s ‘keeper, Mike Duggan, in the early stages.
The Nailers played the ball swiftly and accurately on the grassy surface and they buzzed around the host’s penalty area just waiting for a goal scoring opportunity.
Some good approach play nearly led to an opener on 32 minutes after Danny Gordon split the fence with a great pass only for Tyler Johal to shoot too close to the ‘keeper.
Persistence from arguably the night’s best performer George Milner, in the 40th minute led to a half chance for Alex Peterson who hit the side netting, then the Belper front man headed a Nathan Curtis cross goal bound but once again the ‘keeper saved well.
Belper spoiled their near perfect defensive display when they switched off to allow Johnny Lockie to slip through with barely a minute of the second half gone to score past James Leverton, however the Nailers quickly picked up the pace and worked hard to get back in the game.
Alex Peterson hit the cross bar after his header came up off the ground in the 69th minute, and George Milner’s blistering 25 yard shot was brilliantly saved by Duggan, who was rapidly becoming the Tulip’s man of the match.
Peterson was a victim of Duggan’s brilliance on 77 minutes when he connected firmly with a header from 10 yards out, and the Tulip’s ‘keeper frustrated Belper again when he stopped Ross Haig’s shot after he was put clear with 10 minutes to go.
The tie looked to be slipping away from Belper until the 89th minute when Danny Gordon’s free kick found the diminutive George Milner who jumped higher than anyone to plant the ball beyond the ‘keeper, to give the Nailers a much deserved equaliser.
While James Leverton had been relatively untroubled during the 90 minutes, he came to the fore in the penalty competition and made two excellent saves to deny George Zuerner and Tulip’s skipper Jordan Lemon.
Meanwhile Alex Peterson, Nathan Curtis, Piteu Crouz and Danny South scored their spot kicks to send a jubilant Belper through to the next round.
Spalding United: Duggan, Floyd, Hugo, Humble, Fixter, Zuerner, Lemon, Brooks (Chippanunga 78), King, Meham (Spafford 86), Lockie.Unused subs: White, Davison, Waters.
Belper Town. Leverton, Lucas, Clark (Crouz 63), Sturgess (Haig 63)’ South, Assenso, Curtis, Gordon, Peterson, Milner, Johal (Esmaeily 80) Unused sub: Sissmey.
Referee: Brian O’Sullivan.