Shepshed Dynamo 1 Belper Town 0
By David Laughlin
This was a desperate result for the Nailers who seem to have completely lost their way since the turn of the year.
The Dovecote has never been a favourite destination for Belper Town and it can only be hoped that they have now hit rock bottom after an awful display against basement club Shepshed Dynamo.
The Leicestershire side have has a dismal season having won only two of their 27 league fixtures until last Saturday, although recently they have earned creditable draws away at Barwell and Grantham, but the worrying aspect about this latest defeat was that there were no redeeming features for the Nailers.
Kyle Hadley made his debut for Belper after arriving from Kidderminster and Mark Barnard took over from Liam Davis at left back.
A blustery wind made good football difficult but can’t be offered up as an excuse for a frustrating display from Belper who just never got going at any time in the game.
But the Nailers could have made life much easier for themselves in the early stages as three presentable opportunities came their way, and all were missed.
Jon Froggatt nodded the ball on to Daryll Thomas in the 9th minute, but this wasn’t one of the Belper striker’s better days as he blasted the ball high over the bar from 12 yards.
Thomas then drilled the ball wide from a similar range a minute later after Shepshed had failed to clear the ball which led to an unseemly scramble, then Ruben Wiggins-Thomas burst through in the 12th minute and his attempted lob went high and wide.
That was just about it from an attacking perspective and Gavin Saxby in the Dynamo goal had very little to do for the rest of the game, which was an unusual day for him to say the least as Dynamo have conceded 70 goals so far this season.
Aiden Brady fired in a fiercely struck low shot that Ali Barcherini managed to stop but needed a team mate to clear the ball away in the 16th minute, then Simon Bollard had time to size up his volley and proceeded to fire wide with only Barcherini to beat.
Former Belper striker Dean Oliver should have scored a minute later when he turned a right wing cross inches the wrong side of the post and the Nailers were being made to look second rate.
And matters worsened in the 40th minute when Nicky Darker got in the way of a close range shot and the referee awarded a penalty kick, leaving Shepshed’s Rob Norris to roll the ball in from the penalty spot.
Surely the Nailers would recover in the second half but it was not to be.
Belper created virtually nothing in front of goal for the entire 45 minutes and there was only one direct shot on target and this was a miss-hit volley from Matty Thorpe in the 51st minute.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas did have one good run on 64 minutes and his cross fizzed across the six-yard area, but behind Jon Froggatt and Daryll Thomas.
Belper frustration began to manifest itself with an increasing foul count and in the 68th minute the Nailers’ task became a little harder when Nicky Darker was sent off for a second yellow card after a high challenge on Simon Bollard.
Belper’s efforts became increasingly futile as the half progressed and Dynamo swallowed up anything and everything that they could throw at them.
All they could muster was an Andy Rushbury in-swinger on 80 minutes that was nearly turned in at the far post.
If the Nailers had any aspirations of a play off place this season then they really needed to win this game, but it was the manner of the defeat that will concern Belper supporters more than anything.
The Nailers have only won twice in their last nine outings and they are in urgent need of a change of fortunes to halt their continuing slide down the league table.
Shepshed Dynamo: Saxby, Hanson, Fairclough (Dean 45), Frecklington, Stubbs, Screaton (Hewitt 90), Bollard, Smith, Oliver, Norris, Brady. Unused subs: Civil, Scothern.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Barnard (Simmons 66), Darker, Plant, Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Thomas, Hadley (Rushbury 66). Unused subs: Davis, Peel, Carney.
Referee: Michael Bingham (Leamington Spa).