Loughborough Dynamo 5 Belper Town 4
By David Laughlin
A nightmare defensive display condemned Belper Town to their second successive defeat by the odd goal in nine and their slide down the league table continued.
Daryll Thomas’s (pictured) splendid hat trick was almost forgotten as the Nailers slipped to the third defeat in the last four league games to send alarm bells ringing at Christchurch Meadow.
Belper’s defensive frailties can be traced back to Matt Plant’s knee injury and the defenders absence has exposed a weakness in the Nailers’ back four that has reached a crisis level.
Scoring goals used to be a problem and now stopping them going in has become an even greater one, and manager Andy Carney has to find a way of stemming the flow.
Craig Laight was fit enough to take his place alongside Richard Adams while Matty Thorpe came in for his first start with Andy Rushbury making way.
With a strong breeze blowing diagonally across the pitch the Nailers kicked off playing into it with the intention of limiting any potential damage until the turnaround at half time.
Dynamo’s Danny Gibbons nearly capitalised on defensive hesitancy as early as the 3rd minute but put his shot over from 15 yards, and it wasn’t until the 10th minute that Belper forced ‘keeper Laurie Pearson into action when a good move ended with Russ Peel’s shot from an acute angle being blocked by the ‘keeper.
The Nailers went behind seconds later when Jay Lee Hodgson finished well with a curling shot in off the angle after a long clearance caught Belper cold at the back.
Karl Noble forced a fine save out of Ali Barcherini in the 20th minute with a well struck effort from the edge of the penalty area, then the Nailers struck back two minutes later when Jon Froggatt fed the ball through to Daryll Thomas who fired in an unstoppable shot past the advancing Pearson.
New boy Matty Thorpe met a Russell Peel cross in the 29th minute and his effort hit the upright as the Nailers picked up the pace late in the half, and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas hit a swerving effort from just outside the penalty area, but the wind steered it wide of the upright.
Loughborough stunned Belper with a breakaway goal on 34 minutes and Jack Roberts had time and space to tuck his shot away just inside the post with Barcherini helpless to intervene.
Good combination play almost paid off for Belper when Darryl Thomas side footed a Peel cross just wide of the post on 37 minutes, but the Nailers nearly fell further behind when William Grocott’s curling effort went agonisingly close.
However Daryll Thomas restored parity on 39 minutes when he collected a Peel through pass and ran on to strike a fine shot just inside the post to make it 2-2.
Matty Thorpe nearly capped a good half for him with a shot that was well saved at the foot of the post and after surviving the first forty-five minutes against the wind; Belper should have expected things to go their way after the break.
But the Nailers started badly by conceding a goal in the 48th minute when Matt Langham turned to place a low shot in the far corner and the Nailers were faced with having to do it all again.
However they were soon back on level terms when Russ Peel put Jon Froggatt clear on the left and the resulting cross was perfect for Daryll Thomas to complete his hat trick with a controlled close range volley.
Nicky Darker was unlucky to see a 53rd minute header pushed wide by Pearson, and when Russell Peel scored directly from a corner kick on 56 minutes, the Nailers looked odds on for the three points.
Jon Froggatt tried to flick the ball over the advancing ‘keeper without success on 58 minutes and had that gone in it might have been enough to dent Dynamo’s confidence.
But to the Leicestershire side’s credit they came back into the game by keeping the ball on the ground and passing it well, and when William Grocott caught Ali Barcherini off his line with a looping cross come shot to level at 4-4, the initiative was back with the home side.
Disaster struck in the 77th when Belper failed to deal with a cross from the left and substitute Mitch Williams had a free header at the far post, although the ball went off the other post before resting in the Belper goal.
Belper had chances to respond, and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas should have done better with an opportunity in the 86th minute but put his shot wide, and then Chris Wood couldn’t add the required touch to another Wiggins-Thomas effort right at the death.
Loughborough Dynamo: Pearson, Rennalls, Jenno, Noble (Williams 60), Hohn, Gibbons, Ross (Way 60), Roberts, Langham, Hodgson, Grocott (Sykes 87). Subs. not used: Woods, Mann-Kler.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride, Thompson (Wood 85), Darker, Adams, Laight (Jenkins 75), Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Thomas (Simmons 64), Peel. Subs. not used: Rushbury, Carney.
Referee: M E Weaver (Birmingham)