Nailers give Robins a testing afternoon
The Nailers were beaten by a single goal away to promotion chasers Ilkeston FC on bank holiday Monday, writes Joe Malone.
Substitute Nabil Shariff saw his late effort deflect over the crossbar, as Belper pressed for an equaliser (Pic: Tim Harrison)
The goal came early in the second half for the Robins as they held out to take all three points, despite the Nailers' best efforts.
Manager Jimmy Albans changed to a 4-3-3 formation as Kern Miller was unavailable due to work commitments so Phil Watt and Paul Lister partnered each other at centre half with Scott Matthews and Ben Turner deployed as full-backs.
Indeed it was Belper who shaded the first half and produced more chances than the home side.
Rob Stevenson cut inside from the left wing six minutes in and beat two players before drilling his low shot wide of the near post.
Kane Richards had a good opportunity on the tenth minutes as he beat Matthews for pace in the left inside channel and placed his shot past the onrushing Dan Haystead, although the ball found the side netting.
Newly instated captain Laurie Wilson was pulling the strings for the Nailers, and his clever pass to Evan Garnett inside the box saw the forward rifle a shot on goal which was palmed away by Jordan Smith.
The remainder of the first half produced little in front of goal, as both sides struggled to break through their respective defences.
But, the second half began with a goal just two minutes in as the Robins took a surprising lead.
David Morgan swung in a free kick towards the back post where Rob Duffy arrived unmarked to power his header in to the back of the net, despite Haystead getting a finger tip to the ball.
The remaining chances fell for the Nailers but they struggled to find a clinical edge to their approach play..
Matthews and Wilson both went close around the hour mark as their speculative efforts caused goalkeeper Smith more problems than first anticipated.
Michael Towey then had a headed effort saved well by the ‘keeper as Matthews continued to deliver good crosses in to the Ilkeston penalty box.
Nabil Shariff and Jon Froggatt were introduced late on for the Nailers and each came close to finding the equaliser.
Ben Turner played the ball up towards Paul Grimes who played a neat flick on in to the path of Shariff who was on to it like a flash.
Shariff stormed in to the penalty area and fired in a shot on goal which was beaten away by Smith, but having a second bite at the cherry, an untimely slip by the Belper substitute saw his second attempt go astray.
Kane Richards then found himself completely clear on goal with two minutes remaining as he raced in behind the Nailers defence to latch on to a through ball but Haystead came to Belper’s rescue as he dived bravely at the feet of the Robins striker and take the ball from his path.
Immediately after the save, Haystead launched the ball up forward, which was flicked on into the path of Froggatt, whose half volley from 12 yards was tipped over in fine style by Smith after it looked a certain that the Nailers striker was going to score.
And one minute later, Shariff had another opportunity inside the box as the ball fell kindly for him, but again an Ilkeston defender bravely blocked his shot two yards from the goal line and deflecting the ball over the crossbar.
Ilkeston FC: Smith, Shaw, Reid, Baker, Burgess, Lane, Morgan, Chettle, Duffy (Simons 86), Richards, Williams (Wright 64). Subs: Gorman, Colqhoun, Wright, Burrows.
Belper Town: Haystead, Turner, Matthews (Froggatt 87), Lister, Watt (Varley 84), Towey, Wilson, Williams, Grimes, Garnett (Shariff 79), Stevenson.
Referee: C. Akers (Rotherham)