Classic match ends all square
By David Laughlin
Despite being 2-0 up at half time the Nailers had to hang on grimly to ensure they took home a point from the Vic Couzens Stadium.
In a classic example of a game of two halves the Nailers dominated the first period and could have doubled their tally but the same scenario applied to Stamford after the break as they stormed back to share the points.
Chris Wood got his chance to start a game in place of Justin Jenkins and Luke Fedorenko got the nod over Russell Peel, while Lee Thompson made a surprise return to first team action deputising for the injured Andy Rushbury.
Like Belper, the Daniels had earned their first league win of the season the previous Saturday so both teams had high expectations for the game.
Belper started this one like an express train and for 35 minutes completely dominated proceedings.
Simon Mirfin might have done better after executing a one-two with Ruben Wiggins-Thomas in the 7th minute but failed to connect properly with the ball.
The Nailers looked dangerous down both flanks with Wiggins-Thomas showing a tremendous turn of pace that bred blind panic in left back Nick Jackson.
Luke Fedorenko was also very active on the opposite flank and put over an excellent cross moments later for Chris Wood to head just over the target.
Great work from Wiggins-Thomas culminated in Jon Froggatt’s first serious effort on goal and somehow Chris Wright in the Daniels’ goal managed to punch the ball away.
Fedorenko nearly scored directly from a corner kick in the 12th minute as the ball was swung in from the right side and missed everyone included the far post.
The Nailers were rewarded for their impressive start in the 20th minute when Fedorenko saw the possibility of an early cross barely 20 yards into the Stamford half, and he picked out Jon Froggatt perfectly.
Froggatt continued with the footballing excellence by bringing the ball under control immediately and slotting it beyond the advancing Chris Wright.
Belper kept up the pressure and tortured Stamford’s defence to the extent that they began arguing amongst themselves.
Fedorenko forced Wright into another great save with a tremendous strike in the 28th minute and within a minute the Nailers had doubled their advantage when Lee Thompson (pictured) hit an superb shot from in excess of 30 yards that flew just inside of the post before Wright could react.
However before the end of the half Belper’s dominance had begun to fade slightly whilst Stamford stemmed the flow from midfield and started to turn the tables. Even so, their best effort of the half was Paul Malone rising shot from a 38th minute corner kick.
Belper were right to expect an onslaught immediately after the break and a blistering team talk by Daniels’ manager Simon Clark clearly motivated his team.
Lee Beeson, largely anonymous during the first 45 minutes proved to be a constant thorn in Belper’s side and it was he who provided the cross from a seemingly impossible position that made the job of nodding the ball in by Ricky Miller relatively easy on 54 minutes.
Miller then missed a very good chance when he volleyed wide from close in on 60 minutes, and Belper’s chances of hanging on for victory were looking very slim.
The Nailers repelled attack after attack but so frantic were the home team to get their equaliser they began to take risks at the back.
Jon Froggatt missed the target with only the ‘keeper to beat in the 75th minute and substitute Justin Jenkins should have capitalised two minutes later but could only mis-kick the ball straight to the ‘keeper.
Stamford’s response was to throw everyone forward and after a particularly intense spell of pressure they got what they wanted when Paul Malone nodded a loose ball into the unguarded net in the 81st minute.
Belper defended valiantly for the remainder of the game and fortunately Stamford gradually ran out of steam and ideas, and in the final analysis both teams were probably happy to settle for a point.
Stamford: Wright, Watson, Jackson, Reed, Chamberlain, Malone, Beeson, Weston (Toyne 61), Battersby, Miller, Cotton. Subs. not used: King, Sedgemore, Mowbray, Stainsby.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride, Barnard, Mirfin (Ingall 61), Adams, Plant, Wiggins-Thomas, Thompson, Froggatt, Wood (Jenkins 61), Fedorenko (Peel 81).
Referee: Geoff Russell (Northampton)