Leek Town 0 Belper Town 2
By David Laughlin
Considering recent results and performances this was a very good display from Belper Town who defeated an in-form Leek Town at Harrison Park last Tuesday evening.
At times, the Nailers needed all their defensive qualities to come together as the home side had long spells of pressure, but with Matt Plant now looking back to full fitness this was the kind of display that hadn’t been seen for many weeks.
Paris Simmons came into the starting line up ahead of Daryll Thomas who made a rare appearance on the bench but new signing Kyle Hadley was absent because of illness.
Leek started the game as the form side after winning four out of their last five league fixtures, and their new found confidence was apparent from the start.
Matt Thorpe tested the ‘keeper with an early shot after only three minutes but thereafter it was Leek who held the initiative.
Devon Gibson should have made better use of the ball in the 8th minute when he had time to cross or shoot, but in the end he overhit his shot and the ball went safe.
Lee Thompson made a timely tackle to stop Dan Cope’s route to goal minutes later and another effort from Gibson lacked direction and his effort was always rising over the bar.
Jamie Haynes’ control earned him a chance on goal but he wasted his opportunity by firing over the top then a Christian Millar header should have tested Ali Barcherini on 29 minutes but he put his header wide.
Belper’s attacks had been infrequent up to now but in the 38th minute the Nailers stunned Leek with a goal created from nothing.
Paris Simmons has to be credited with holding up the ball before finding Andy Rushbury on the left. Rushbury drilled it deep into the six-yard area when Leek defender Mark Ruddock couldn’t prevent himself applying the final touch to score an own goal.
It could have been two on the stroke of half time when Matty Thorpe’s cross to the far post was taken off the head of Jon Froggatt by the outstretched hand of Danny Roberts in the Leek goal.
The second half was predictably fast and furious with Leek determined to grab an early equaliser.
Ali Barcherini made a crucial save on 60 minutes when he got down well to deny Dan Cope’s fiercely struck shot from just outside the area, but after 15 minutes or so of intense pressure from the home team the Nailers shocked them once again.
It was a classic break by Belper who caught Leek short at the back and it was Jon Froggatt who made the most of hesitancy in clearing a cross, by turning and blasting the ball high into the net from 8 yards out.
Leek redoubled their efforts after this and their impressive approach play was steadfastly fended off at the edge of the penalty by a resolute Belper, and anything that got through was ably dealt with by Barcherini (pictured) who is making a case for player of the year with the consistent performances he is putting in.
The Nailers should have got a third goal on 71 minutes when Paris Simmons picked out Darryl Thomas with a clear run on goal, but credit to Roberts who came out well to block.
The remaining 20 minutes or so continued in a similar pattern with Leek doing most of the attacking and Belper threatening to hit them on the break, but when the final whistle went there was a sense of a job well done and maybe a hint of a return to form.
Leek Town: Roberts, Johnson, Allen, Taylor (Rutter 75), Ruddock, Mellor (Corden 66), Gibson, Millar, Malbon (Ashman 39), Cope, Haynes. Unused subs: Cox, Heeps.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Barnard, Darker, Plant, Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Simmons, Rushbury. Unused subs: Carney.
Referee: A S Cawtherley (Stockport)