Lincoln United 1 Belper Town 2
By David Laughlin
A brace of goals from Ruben Wiggins-Thomas (pictured) was enough to seal Belper Town’s second successive away victory and halt their slide down the league table.
The Nailers gave a debut to former Derby County reserve player Kallum Keane who formed a solid partnership alongside Matt Plant in the centre of defence with Richard Adams moving to left back.
Assistant manager Mark Barnard made way and was named as a substitute as was Daryll Thomas who for the second game running was left out for tactical reasons with Paris Simmons playing just behind Jon Froggatt.
Like Belper, Lincoln have had an inconsistent season but have come a long way since the Nailers went to Ashby Avenue in mid November and hit six without reply in a President’s Cup tie.
In fact they had won three out of their last four league outings so this clash was never going to be easy despite history being very much in Belper’s favour.
The Nailers were undefeated on each of their last five visits although their four wins league have always been tight affairs, and this game was to continue in that pattern.
In a fairly dour first 45 minutes there were few goalmouth incidents and most of the early action was at the Belper end.
Stuart Reddington, a centre half in the old fashioned mould brought a great save out of Ali Barcherini in the first half and although the rebound was put into the net, the offside flag came to Belper’s rescue.
The Nailers came into the game for a time without being able to create an opportunity then once again Barcherini had to be alert as Steve Melton found space to shoot from the edge of the area.
Nicky Darker had another great game and demonstrated his tackling prowess by taking the ball off the toes of George Zuerner who had looked set to score.
Belper’s best effort came in the 18th minute when Paris Simmons’ perfectly weighted through ball found Jon Froggatt, but Belper’s leading scorer put his shot the wrong side of the post.
Barcherini kept out Scott Coupland’s 30th minute effort with another good save, but for the remainder of the half Lincoln kept the Nailers’ defence busy and the half time whistle was a welcome distraction.
But it all changed in the second half when it was Belper who asked most of the questions and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas emerged from the shadow he had been under in the first half and began to cause Lincoln lots of trouble.
Kallum Smith had all on to contain Wiggins-Thomas and in the 48th minute he beat him for pace before pulling the ball back from the by-line for Paris Simmons to blast over from 15 yards.
Simmons had just hit a free kick over the crossbar when the Nailers made the breakthrough thanks to a huge Nicky Darker throw in that cleared the lofty Reddington in the 52nd minute.
The ball dropped to Ruben Wiggins-Thomas who latched on to it and fired it into the net.
But Belper’s joy was relatively short lived because Lincoln equalised in the 59th minute when Stuart Reddington made the most of his height and experience to head home at the far post from an in-swinging corner kick.
The winner came for Belper when Lincoln messed up a corner kick in the 66th minute and the ball came out to Andy Rushbury who sent Ruben Wiggins-Thomas on his way.
Wiggins-Thomas did exceptionally well to stay on his feet and shrug off a number of challenges before taking the ball around Craig Turner and slotting it home.
Wiggins-Thomas raced down the left side in the 77th minute and his cross eventually fell to Jon Froggatt whose shot on the turn grazed the upright, and with just two minutes left Daryll Thomas had a good chance when Wiggins-Thomas put him through, but he sent his shot straight at the ‘keeper.
The Nailers deserved their victory on the strength of the second half performance that was a world away from their abject display at Shepshed 7 days earlier.
Lincoln United: Turner, Fleming, Smith, Media, Porter, Redding ton, McGovern, Melton (Bull 45), Sterner (Wright 81), Malarkey (Funnel 76), Copland. Unused subs: Dye, Orbit.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Adams, Darker, Keane, Plant, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt (Thomas 86), Simmons, Rushbury (Hadley 76).
Unused subs: Davis, Peel, and Barnard.
Referee: Nigel Smith (Chesterfield)