Belper Town 2 Sheffield FC 3
By David Laughlin
Belper Town suffered the agony of a 90th minute defeat against Sheffield FC in their first home league outing for seven weeks.
Nailers’ manager Andy Carney was able to select his first choice starting eleven although Simon Mirfin and new signing Matt Thorpe were unavailable through injury.
Belper made a good start to the game and there was an anxious moment for the Sheffield ‘keeper Dan Whatsize when he couldn’t hold Andy Rushbury’s 3rd minute free kick, and from the resulting corner kick Richard Adams blasted over from 10 yards after creating the opportunity with some nifty footwork.
However the Nailers took the lead in the 10th minute when Russ Peel pictured) received a pass from Darryl Thomas and he ran on to stroke the ball just inside the far post with the ‘keeper powerless to prevent the ball going in.
Jon Froggatt thought he was going to score in the 17th minute when in a crowded penalty area, he struck a left foot shot from 12 yards but Dan Whatsize made a superb save at full length to deny him.
Sheffield, who had shown little ambition in the early stages, drew level in the 21st minute when Russ Peel headed in to his own goal from a Matt Outram corner kick.
The visitors gained new found confidence following their piece of good fortune and the Nailers found themselves defending more often they would have liked.
Sheffield’s second goal on 33 minutes was farcical from Belper’s point of view and Ali Barcherini has to take the lions’ share of the blame by failing to punch a routine cross clear, leaving former Belper defender Scott Lowe the easy task of steering the ball into the empty net.
The Nailers nearly levelled the scores in the 40th minute when Darryl Thomas broke speedily on the left and his cross to the far post was just out of the reach of Jon Froggatt sliding in unmarked.
Froggatt was unfortunate again moments later when he put in a great header from a Russ Peel cross but the Sheffield ‘keeper managed to get to the ball and punch it away for a corner kick.
The Nailers needed a good start to the second half and they were rewarded for a lively opening spell when Whatsize failed to come for a cross from the left, and Andy Rushbury snapped up the loose ball and made certain from 15 yards.
Matt Plant nearly regained the lead for Belper when he got to a Mark Barnard cross ahead of everyone but couldn’t guide it in between the posts.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas showed good skills to set up another Belper attack and Darryl Thomas played his part with a good run and cross, but Russ Peel could only put the ball into the arms of the ‘keeper from close in.
The Nailers were showing much more urgency now although their passing occasionally lacked precision particularly when in good attacking positions.
Jordan Eagers should have scored for Sheffield in the 64th minute when he was the final link in a flowing move but he scooped the ball over from 10 yards.
It was a very open game with both sides looking capable of adding to their respective scores and Belper came close in the 75th minute when Luke Fedorenko’s cross to the far post was just out of Russ Peel’s reach.
Nicky Darker’s speculative effort from outside the penalty area on 87 minutes just went wide, but everything went badly wrong for the Nailers in the last couple of minutes of the game.
Darryl Thomas went down in the Sheffield penalty area amid cries for a penalty, but the visitors just got on with it and broke quickly with Nathan Foster charging down the left flank.
The Nailers were badly undermanned at the back and with Brian Cusworth completely unmarked, the Sheffield striker converted from 15 yards to clinch all three points for the visitors, and to add to Belper’s woes, Mark Barnard was sent off as he received a second yellow for kicking the ball at the referee.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Barnard, Darker, Adams, Plant, Wiggins-Thomas (Fedorenko 67), Rushbury, Froggatt (Wood 85), Thomas, Peel. Subs. not used: Pride, Laight, Carney.
Sheffield FC: Whatsize, Eagers, Wright, Hadfield, Lowe, Winter, Outram (Roney 42), Harrison (Foster 45), Cusworth, Gascoigne, Woolley (Gregory 74). Sub. not used: Smith.
Referee: Steven Meredith (Retford)
Match Sponsors: D&S Events
Man of the Match: Andy Rushbury.