Belper again pay for missed chances
By David Laughlin
Belper Town once again failed to find their goal scoring touch at Christchurch Meadow and couldn’t turn territorial superiority into league points.
The Nailers were keen to build on the previous Saturday’s good performance at Rainworth MW and manager Andy Carney retained the same starting line for this home fixture against Brigg Town.
The Zebras had enjoyed a good start to the season having won five of their seven fixtures and were positioned in fifth place in the table, one point ahead of the Nailers and with three games in hand.
Paul Grimes made a strong run for Brigg in the opening minute and allowed the ball to run to Oliver Chappell but his effort rolled just wide of the post, then Ali Barcherini made a good save in the 4th minute as he held Daniel Barratt’s well struck free kick from 22 yards.
Pressure from Jon Froggatt as he chased a long ball in the 10th minute forced Andrew Pettinger into dropping the ball, then as he tried to reclaim it he handled just outside the area and the Nailers were awarded a free kick virtually on the edge of the box.
Jon Froggatt stepped up to take the dead ball kick but it came back off the defensive wall and with other shots raining from all angles, the sequence ended with Ruben Wiggins-Thomas’ effort going just over the cross bar.
Wiggins-Thomas (pictured) ended a good spell of possession for Belper with a tantalising cross that just cleared the far post in the 19th minute, and although the Zebras looked good going forward, the Nailers were having the lion’s share of the ball.
The home side were playing some decent football at this stage of the game but in the 28th minute the game turned in Brigg’s favour when they broke away after Belper had made a mess of a short corner.
The move ended ith Paul Grimes having a clear shot on goal, and although Barcherini got a vital touch on to the far post and Mark Barnard completed the clearance, the ball went straight to Tyrone Kirk who blasted it in from 6 yards.
It was a blow to the Nailers who had looked far and away the more likely of the two teams to score first, and now they had work even harder to get back on level terms.
The leveller nearly arrived in the 39th minute when Matt Plant and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas jumped for the same ball at the near post, and despite claims that the ball had gone over the line, the officials thought otherwise.
Matt Plant jumped well to head over a 43rd minute corner kick and although the Nailers were pressing almost constantly, the threat of a Brigg breakaway was very real.
The Nailers began the second half by peppering the Brigg penalty area with crosses but the Zebras demonstrated their danger on the break in the 49th minute when Tyrone Kirk cut inside to unleash a fierce effort that Barcherini pushed away for a corner kick.
A Lee Thompson free kick was headed away easily by Scot Hellewell in the 56th minute and then Daryll Thomas was desperately unlucky not to have bagged his first goal for the club after showing good footwork just inside the penalty area before crashing a tremendous shot against the crossbar.
The Nailers were again showing good pressure but the Brigg defence was comfortably dealing with most of what was being launched into their goal area.
Andy Rushbury replaced an increasingly frustrated Luke Fedorenko and his first involvement in the 16th minute was a half chance from 16 yards but his shot swerved wide of the near post.
Daryll Thomas was provided with a half chance with a short pass into box from Mark Barnard but he put too much effort into the shot and the ball flew wide, and then moments later Jon Froggatt ran through and he put his shot over the bar.
Andy Rushbury weighed in with a much better effort on 73 minutes even though the ball once again cleared the cross bar, and the Nailers appeared to be denied a penalty when Darryl Thomas was pushed in the back.
The Nailers began to lose their focus in the latter stages with Matt Plant and Nicky Darker getting booked for unnecessary fouls and they were getting no joy up front either where the Zebras were coping with everything that Belper could throw at them.
Mark Barnard performed heroics in the last minute of normal time by stopping two attempts on goal in quick succession when Barcherini was out of position
Then the Nailers had a golden opportunity to salvage a point when Ruben Wiggins-Thomas ran through on goal and stuck a fearsome shot into the side netting, and it was another opportunity squandered.
It was to be Belper’s final chance of an equaliser as the home side succumbed to their fourth consecutive home defeat in all competitions.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride (Wood 80), Barnard, Darker, Adams, Plant, Wiggins-Thomas, Thompson, Froggatt, Thomas, Fedorenko (Rushbury 60). Subs. not used: Peel, Laight, Warren.
Brigg Town: Pettinger, Spafford, Barratt, Bowsley, Hellewell, Cochrane, Chappell, Lamb (Steele 69), Jackman (Paczkowski 73), Kirk (Buttle 80), Grimes. Subs. not used: West, Oates.
Referee: Martin PARKER (Wakefield)
Man of the Match: Ruben WIGGINS-THOMAS