Belper Town 3 Harrogate Railway Athletic 2
By David Laughlin
Belper Town staged a remarkable recovery from being two goals down and a superb Daryll Thomas brace helped keep the Nailers on course to retaining the President’s Cup.
Craig Laight was unavailable through injury for this tie against Harrogate Railway and new signing Matt McKenzie went straight into central defence alongside Richard Adams.
The Nailers were looking for revenge for their FA Trophy defeat against the Railwaymen earlier in the season, and more importantly as cup holders, they were keen to progress in the competition.
Belper soon fell behind when as early as the 2nd minute Dan Husband headed in from a corner kick unchallenged.
Colin Hunter nearly made it two moments later when he ran clear and hit an angled shot against the upright, but Daryll Thomas was close to getting an equaliser in the 8th minute with a shot into the side netting.
Jon Froggatt was a whisker away from scoring after Aaron Pride sent Daryll Thomas away but the Belper striker couldn’t quite reach the cross.
Steve Palfrey broke away and tried to steer the ball over the advancing Barcherini but fortunately the ball flew past the near post, then Ruben Wiggins-Thomas hit a swerving shot that hit the near post with the ‘keeper flapping.
Daryll Thomas swung wildly at a half chance at the far post in the 21st minute and the Nailers were trying hard to get back on level terms after a poor start.
Michael Duckworth hit a hopeful effort from 22 yards and Barcherini was happy to see it swerve away from the near post at the last moment.
Daryll Thomas hit an equally speculative effort on 37 minutes although this time the ball was always rising and the ‘keeper wasn’t troubled, but the Nailers needed Barcherini to stop Duckworth’s shot on the run shortly afterwards.
Harrogate should have scored on the stroke of half time when Colin Hunter streaked away down the left and delivered a pin point cross for Steve Palfrey who promptly nodded the ball wide when it looked simpler to score.
Belper’s grasp on the President’s Cup loosened further in the 53rd minute when Luke Durham powered his way through the Belper back line and drilled the ball hard and low past Barcherini.
The Nailers needed a spark of ingenuity to get themselves going in this tie but despite plenty of endeavour, there was very little end product and Belper were struggling against a modest Harrogate side.
But in the 63rd minute Daryll Thomas provided the boost the Nailers needed when he latched onto Russell Peel’s measured pass, took the ball around Tom Osbourne and scored brilliantly from an acute angle.
The goal breathed life and belief into Belper who nearly equalised in the 65th minute after some excellent work from Jon Froggatt who supplied a perfect cross to the far post where Daryll Thomas saw his volley pushed around the post by the ‘keeper.
However the momentum was with the Nailers and in the 75th minute Harrogate gave away what seemed to be a needless penalty when Ian McClean left his leg in when Ruben Wiggins-Thomas turned on a sixpence and Jon Froggatt blasted in the equaliser from the penalty spot.
Paris Simmons had the ball in the net in the 83rd minute but celebrations were cut short when the referee’s assistant’s flag went up for offside.
But in the 85th minute the Nailers took the lead when Daryll Thomas (pictured) beat the offside trap and went on to score a similar goal to his first by drilling the ball in from a narrow angle.
Belper kept their heads for the remainder of the tie and fully deserved their place in the semi final.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride, Thompson, Darker, McKenzie (Simmons 73), Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Thomas, Peel (Rushbury 63). Subs not used: Jenkins, Barnard, Carney
Harrogate Railway Athletic: Osbourne, Thirkell, McClean, Danby, Husband (Maran 69), Maloney (Parks 50), Duckworth, Parkes, Durham, Palfrey (Davey 78), Hunter. Subs not used: Jackson.
Referee: Matt Walsh (Sheffield)