Belper Town 2 Newcastle Town 0
By David Laughlin
Belper Town reached the President’s Cup Final for the second successive season with a comfortable semi final victory over Newcastle Town.
The Nailers unveiled a new signing for this tie at Christchurch Meadow with Charlie Weir making his debut after signing from Maltby Main earlier this week.
Darryl Thomas was serving the second of a two match suspension while Liam Davis was ineligible having already played in the competition for Goole.
Craig Laight was back in contention after a six week injury lay off while Kallum Keane was unavailable after suffering a back strain against Quorn.
Newcastle Town came into this semi final off the back of a home league defeat against Leek Town but nevertheless this was expected to be a tough hurdle in Belper’s attempt to retain the President’s Cup.
The Nailers made a positive start and forced Newcastle to defend for the first five minutes, but it was ‘Castle’s Jordan Johnson who had the game’s first real effort when he volleyed a 25 yard effort over the bar.
Jon Froggatt sent Aaron Pride away in the 13th minute and his cross was put out of play by Paul Donnelly, and from the resulting corner kick Matt Plant (pictured) rose unchallenged to head firmly past Daniel Read to give the Nailers the early advantage.
Jordan Johnson was a whisker away from the far post with a free kick taken from just outside the penalty area in the 17th minute, and Dan Skelton went even closer with a speculative effort five minutes later.
Nicky Darker found himself with a clear shot on goal in the 28th minute and he was unlucky with his calculated shot that was intended to drop over the ‘keeper but credit to Read who judged it well.
Charlie Weir put in a good cross to the near post that was blocked by Read and the Nailers had played well in the first half hour, and came close to increasing their lead when Charlie Weir’s header landed on the cross bar.
John Skelton could have levelled the scores in the 44th minute when he failed to make proper contact with Jordan Johnson’s cross but it was the Nailers who tightened their grip on the semi final when Jon Froggatt got through to blast his shot in off the advancing ‘keeper to send the Nailers into the half time interval well on top.
It was a scrappy start to the second period which suited Belper and the expected onslaught from Newcastle was slow to materialise, and their tepid opening prompted a double substitution after 60 minutes by the visitors.
With most of the play concentrated in the middle of the park attempts on goal were at a premium but in the 76th minute there was an anxious moment for Belper when Chris Budrys stretched for the ball just outside the six yard box and Ali Barcherini just got a touch before clattering into the Newcastle substitute.
Then moments later Jon Froggatt was denied by a tremendous flying save from Daniel Read as the Belper striker struck a venomous effort from 25 yards.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes play became more edgy and was littered with mistakes, then Belper nearly sealed the tie in the 84th minute when Daniel Read hit his clearance against Charlie Weir but the ball spun backwards away from the goal line into the ‘keepers’ arms.
Then it was Barcherini’s turn to perform heroics when he saved brilliantly from Chris Budrys’ shot and Lee Thompson was well placed to stop Alan Nagington’s follow up effort on the goal line.
This was a vastly improved display from the one against Quorn last Saturday and the Nailers never looked like relinquishing their lead, and they now face Lancaster City in the final on 5 April at Witton Albion’s ground.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride, Thompson L, Darker, Plant, Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Simmons, Weir. Unused subs: Barnard, Rushbury, Laight.
Newcastle Town: Read, George, James, Donnelly, Espley, Douglas, Johnson, Skelton, Richards (Heler 60), Thompson N (Nagington 75), Sheldon (Budrys 60). Unused subs: White, Willis.
Referee: Mick Bell (Rotherham)
Match Sponsor: Midland Fencing Contractors.
Man of the Match: Matt Plant