Wasteful Nailers crash out of FA Trophy
By David Laughlin
Belper Town crashed out of the FA Trophy at the first hurdle after missing a penalty and a last minute open goal that should at least have taken the tie to a replay.
The Nailers embarked on the FA Trophy knowing that their past record since reaching the third qualifying round in season 1997/98 had been unimpressive and they were long overdue some success in the competition.
In addition, after three successive defeats it was important that the Nailers got back to winning ways.
There was just one change from the starting line up that had faced Goole a week earlier and this was the inclusion of Russ Peel in place of Luke Fedorenko who was named as a substitute.
New signing from Wakefield, Craig Laight (pictured) was named as a substitute.
Harrogate arrived under the new management of the former Goole boss Nigel Danby and assistant Mick Norbury, however they had only managed one win in nine Division One North league fixtures and were third from bottom in the table.
Belper had the first chance in the 3rd minute when Darryl Thomas found himself through on Chris Elliott but the Harrogate ‘keeper came out quickly to block the shot.
Ali Barcherini showed good handling skills two minutes later when Ryan Harrison struck a fierce shot from 22 yards and he caught the ball cleanly.
But he could do nothing about the opening goal scored in the 7th minute when Colin Hunter whipped over a low cross from the left and Jon Maloney blasted the ball in from six yards.
Ryan Harrison stuck a low shot just past the far post straight from the restart and a shaky looking Nailers left Wayne Harratt completely on his own in the 12th minute, but the Railway defender pulled his shot wide of the target.
Belper were fortunate again in the 22nd minute when Colin Hunter’s free kick eluded everyone to reach Jon Maloney at the far post only for the ball to strike Barcherini’s head and fly over the crossbar..
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas won a free kick just outside the Harrogate penalty area in the 31st minute and the Nailers peppered the visitor’s goal with a series of shots with Lee Thompson having two good goal bound efforts blocked.
Belper came the closest to a goal in the 39th minute when Jon Froggatt’s looping header had Elliott back tracking and he had to push the ball in front of him to prevent him taking it over the line.
Daryll Thomas might have done better with a header in the 44th minute after Mark Barnard picked him out with a great cross to the corner of the six-yard area, but he steered the ball well wide of the target.
Belper needed to take the initiative in the second period and a good individual run from Luke Fedorenko in the 51st minute ended with a shot straight at Elliott, but at least in was an effort on target.
A good opportunity befell Jon Froggatt in the 55th minute after the Nailers broke down the right and Darryl Thomas looked to have set him up with a cross to the far post, but the Belper striker completely missed the ball and the chance was gone.
An even better opportunity came Froggatt’s way in the 59th minute after Fedorenko was held in the penalty area by Ben Parkes, but the usually reliable Froggatt hit the spot kick tamely and Elliott guessed correctly.
A great pass from Lee Thompson put Wiggins-Thomas in possession and his subsequent cross was spilled by the Railway ‘keeper but no Belper player was there to take advantage.
The Nailers held the initiative as the half wore on but the Railway defence were always one step ahead and any attempts at the long ball, and most crosses were swallowed up by Harrogate’s defensive pairing Josh Radcliffe and Wayne Harratt.
A rare chance to seal the win fell to Steve Palfrey on 80 minutes but fortunately for the Nailers his shot went into the side netting.
Belper continued to toil away in search of an opening and new signing Craig Laight put an 88th minute header just wide and Railway ‘keeper Chris Elliott denied Jon Froggatt with a good one handed save from his well struck effort from 15 yards.
Nicky Darker has time to pick his spot but sent his effort high and wide.
Then seconds before the final whistle Belper should have earned a replay when Jon Froggatt crossed to the far post and only Justin Jenkins will know how he missed a virtual open goal from just a few yards out!!
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride (Laight 73), Barnard (Jenkins 73), Darker, Adams, Plant, Wiggins-Thomas, Thompson, Froggatt, Thomas, Peel (Fedorenko 30). Subs. not used: Wood, Warren.
Harrogate RA: Elliott, Thirkell, Husband, Radcliffe, Harratt, Gray, Durham (Palfrey 60), Stansfield (Parks 27), Maloney, Harrison, Hunter (Ryan 73). Subs. not used: Danby, Osbourne.
Referee: David Lawrence (Barnsley)
Match Sponsors: CDR Plant Hirers Ltd
Man of the Match: Luke Fedorenko