Opening match ends in disappointment
By David Laughlin
It wasn’t the start that manager Andy Carney had wanted as he took sole charge of team affairs in the first league outing of the season.
However it wasn’t all bad news though as the Nailers considered themselves unlucky to go in at the break a goal adrift, but an awful 20 minute spell at the start of the second period would have given Andy Carney plenty to ponder on over the remainder of the weekend.
With Asa Ingall unavailable Simon Harrison’s recovery from injury proved timely while Luke Fedorenko got the nod over a number of other candidates on the right of midfield.
Justin Jenkins was selected ahead of Chris Wood, who had only returned from holiday a few hours beforehand to play alongside Jon Froggatt and confidence levels were high after an impressive pre season campaign.
Sutton Coldfield’s line up included David Blenkinsopp, the former Gresley Rovers striker a long time target of Andy Carney’s, although his time on the field was relatively short as he was replaced after only 18 minutes.
Belper made the better start and looked quicker to the ball and slicker with their passing although the game’s rather pedestrian pace lacked excitement.
Lee Thompson tested Simon Hands in the Sutton goal with a drifting pass come shot in the 15th minute, but the first real opportunity of the game arrived in the 23rd minute after Ali Barcherini’s less than convincing punch was headed back by James Quiggin just over the cross bar.
The Nailers enjoyed good possession in midfield but all too often let the opposition off the hook by not being incisive enough.
Russ Peel broke well down the left on 27 minutes, but delayed too long before feeding the ball to Jon Froggatt and he ran into trouble after defenders had funnelled back.
Froggatt got up well to a long clearance two minutes later and he nodded the ball into the path of Justin Jenkins, however the resulting shot went far too high over the target.
Lee Thompson’s searching cross was just too far ahead of Froggatt as the Nailers pressed forward in the 37th minute, and Luke Fedorenko was unlucky to see Hands push away his dipping volley after a penetrating run 5 minutes later.
However Belper’s good first half display was undermined in the 45th minute when they were caught napping by a short corner leaving Harry Harris to hit an unstoppable drive high into the net.
It was disappointing to say the least to have conceded right on the stroke of half time despite the quality of the shot, and it certainly affected the Nailers’ confidence whilst having the opposite effect on the home side.
Within seconds of the restart substitute Jamille Matt wasted a great chance by shooting against the cross bar however Russ Peel startled the hosts by running through and striking the outside of the post with a cross shot.
The Nailers incredibly had three strong shouts for a penalty in the space of 30 seconds but the referee, who had an increasingly uncomfortable afternoon waved each one away.
But the initiative was very much with the Royals and in the 58th minute a fierce goal bound effort from Harry Harris was unavoidably turned into his own net by Lee Thompson.
The Nailers struggled to get to grips with a revitalised Sutton side and in the 65th minute slipped further behind when Ali Barcherini couldn’t keep hold of a swerving effort from Scott Stamps and Jamille Matt snapped up the loose ball.
Belper earned a penalty kick after Luke Fedorenko was tripped inside the penalty area on 75 minutes and Harry Harris was shown a red card for protesting to the referee’s assistant too vociferously.
Jon Froggatt (pictured) despatched the penalty kick confidently enough giving hopes of a late fight back.
If Hands hadn’t brilliantly saved Andy Rushbury’s 89th minute effort then the four minutes of added on time could have been very interesting indeed, and as it was Simon Mirfin swept a presentable opportunity wide as the Nailers tried to make the score line more representative of the chances they created.
Sutton Coldfield Town: Hands, Quiggin, Jackson, Male, Murrall, Stamps, Dodd, Owen (Milner 84), Marshall (Wills 75), Blenkinsopp (Matt 18), Harris. Subs not used: Wood A, Kettle.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Booker, Thompson, Rushbury, Adams, Plant, Fedorenko (Benger 78), Harrison, Froggatt, Jenkins (Wood C 65), Peel (Mirfin 75). Subs not used: Barnard, Pride.
Referee: D Kuzmanovic (Lichfield).