Honours even in tight contest
By David Laughlin
Belper Town earned their first point of the new season in a very tight encounter against Carlton Town at Christchurch Meadow last Tuesday evening.
Belper manager Andy Carney made two changes to the side that lost its first league game of the season at Sutton Coldfield Town the previous Saturday.
In came Simon Mirfin and Chris Wood while Luke Fedorenko and Justin Jenkins dropped to the substitute’s bench.
Carlton Town, under the guidance of new manager Les McJannett included the former Glapwell striker Neil Grayson following his signing last week and arrived at Christchurch Meadow on the back of an impressive opening day victory over Lincoln United.
It was a fast and furious opening with both teams testing out each other’s defences although rarely troubling the ‘keepers.
There was an anxious moment for the Nailers though in the 10th minute when Neil Grayson almost got to a loose ball ahead of Ali Barcherini, but the Belper ‘keeper managed to get a hand to it at the second attempt.
The Nailers deserved to get something from a good move in the 20th minute after Andy Rushbury penetrated the Carlton defence before releasing the ball wide to Simon Harrison.
However Miller’s ‘keeper Neil West came to his side’s rescue with a good stop with his legs to prevent Harrison scoring the opener.
Almost immediately the visitor’s had a good chance of their own when Ricky Gardener floated a cross over to the far post where Grayson had a virtual free header, but sent it straight at Barcherini.
Belper enjoyed a lengthy spell of pressure midway the half although they couldn’t benefit from a steadily increasing corner kick count.
The Millers won their first corner in the 30th minute but failed to lift it beyond the first Belper defender, then after a strong run from Ricky Gardner soon afterwards, he touched the ball into the path of Nick Hall who blasted it skywards.
Good footwork from Chris Wood in the 35th minute ended with a nicely struck shot from 22 yards that was at an easy height for West, and Simon Harrison set himself up for a shot in the 43rd minute but didn’t strike the ball cleanly enough allowing West to collect the ball easily.
The second half commenced in the same pattern as the first with little to choose between the teams and at this stage the game needed a goal to liven things up.
After a very quiet start to the second period Carlton’s Ricky Gardener nearly supplied a golden moment when he hit an unexpected looping volley from the corner of the penalty area, and a rapidly backtracking Barcherini was relieved to see the ball land on the roof of the net.
Ryan Goward was next to try his luck from distance and his 25 yard drive whistled past the far post in the 68th minute.
A foul on Simon Harrison just outside the penalty area moments later resulted in a terrific free kick from Jon Froggatt (pictured) but West’s reactions were excellent and he parried the stinging shot to safety.
Belper were creating some promising situations and just needed the final delivery to be more imaginative, or at least accurate.
Simon Mirfin got to an 80th minute corner kick and earned a corner from a deflected header and as the pace quickened towards the end of the game Justin Jenkins headed wide.
Jenkins confirmed his arrival as an 84th minute substitute with a much better effort on 87 minutes and sent West sprawling to his right to stop a fiercely struck ground shot.
Luke Fedorenko was a whisker away with a free kick as the game entered added on time, then he weaved his way deep into the penalty area and saw the Carlton ‘keeper deny him with a save at full stretch.
A winner for either side would have been unjust at this late stage of the game and a draw was arguably a fair reflection of the game, however Neil West’s selection as Carlton’s man of the match perhaps told a more accurate story of the encounter.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Booker, Thompson, Mirfin, Adams, Plant, Harrison, Rushbury, Froggatt, Wood (Fedorenko 60), Peel (Benger 60). Subs not used: Barnard, Pride.
Carlton Town: West, Darkin, Goward, Clarke, Kitchen, Hall (Troughton 55), Thornton, Naylor, Grayson (Darling 84), McDonald (Bonnick 75), Gardener.
Referee: Mick Bell (Rotherham)
Match Sponsor: Boxall, Brown and Jones.
Man of the Match: Matt Plant