Belper Town 1 Rushall Olympic 2
By David Laughlin
Belper Town lost for the first time in five outings but arguably should have had a share of the points after battling hard against a good Rushall outfit.
The Nailers welcomed back Nicky Darker after suspension and he came in for Paris Simmons who was unavailable, while Liam Davis continued in midfield covering for Andy Rushbury who still wasn’t 100% fit.
Rushall had the first strike on goal when Christian Dacres hit a speculative volley just over the bar, but the Nailers quickly settled into the game and played some fluid football.
Jon Froggatt had a fierce shot headed off the line by Tony Maguire and then Ruben Wiggins-Thomas had a terrific effort whistle over the cross bar.
As Belper continued to stretch the Rushall defence Nicky Darker brought a fine save out of Chris Gemmell and they had numerous other promising attacks as the half wore on.
But the Nailers found themselves a goal behind in the 26th minute although Chris Morris’s challenge on Ali Barcherini (pictured) was contentious to say the least, however the referee allowed play to continue and Chris Sterling tucked away the loose ball from an acute angle.
Chris Morris was a whisker away from scoring a second after he beat the offside trap with a well timed run, and despatched a curling effort that grazed the far post.
Liam Davis had an opening on the left in the 41st minute but Chris Gemmell gathered his ground shot comfortably enough, then Jamey Osbourne tried his luck from just outside the penalty area and wasn’t too far away.
The Nailers went in at half time disappointed to be a goal adrift and had it all to do after the break.
It was hard going against a packed defence as Belper trued to find a way through and Andy Rushbury came on in place of Matty Thorpe in an attempt to change things.
The problem for Belper was that the Pics were controlling the play, particularly in midfield but in the 63rd minute Liam Davis woke the crowd up with a blistering shot from 25 yards, and Gemmell pulled off a magnificent save to divert the ball around the post for a corner kick.
Darryl Thomas did well to get to the by-line in the 67th minute but he put his cross into the side netting, then from a corner kick Andy Rushbury half hit the ball that would have gone in if Danny Ashton hadn’t been well placed on the goal line.
The Nailers drew level in the 72nd minute when Nicky Darker sent the unmarked Ruben Wiggins-Thomas through the middle and he went on to put the ball past Gemmell.
But the Nailers remained on level terms for just 10 minutes as the Pics went back in front when Christian Dacres jumped higher than everyone else to glance the ball in off the foot of the post.
Ali Barcherini prevented a third goal in the 87th minute when he palmed away Chris Morris’s curling effort, and Rushall had obviously stepped up the pace since the Nailers had got their equaliser.
Morris powered in another shot from 22 yards in added on time and Barcherini got a slight touch to push it on to the post and out of play.
The Nailers never got close to getting the equaliser their endeavours had deserved but Rushall had looked a good side going forward, and could possibly have had the edge in the final analysis.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson (Pride 84), Adams, Darker, Plant, Keane, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe (Rushbury 55), Froggatt, Thomas, Davis. Unused subs: Cartwright, Barnard.
Rushall Olympic: Gemmell, Smith, Amos, Tolley, Maguire, Ashton, Blythe, Dacres, Sterling, Morris (Obeng 90), Osbourne (Fitzpatrick 45). Unused subs: Beckett, Barrow.
Referee: Mick Leslie (Nottingham)
Match Sponsor: Alley Barbers
Man of the Match: Ruben Wiggins-Thomas