Romulus 2 Belper Town 0
By David Laughlin
Belper Town lost their sixth consecutive league game as their desperate run of form continued against Romulus.
The Nailers welcomed back Nicky Darker (pictured) into the centre of midfield after missing the last two games through holiday commitments and it was Daryll Thomas who made way as the Nailers employed just one striker up front.
Romulus, who ground share with Sutton Coldfield Town had also run into some poor form recently and were looking to rekindle their play-off hopes at the expense of the Nailers.
It was a tight game throughout with very few clear-cut opportunities created by either side.
Romulus started well and should have scored in the 9th minute when Ashley Jackson cross to the far post where Marcus Brown somehow managed to miss an easy heading opportunity.
Jon Froggatt nearly opened the scoring with a low drive from 22 yards three minutes later and shortly afterwards Charlie Weir took advantage of a Froggatt knock on, but lobbed a presentable chance over the cross bar.
There was an end of season feel about this game that was played on a hard bouncy pitch and made good football difficult, however Jon Froggatt forged a shooting opportunity in the 28th minute from 25 yards, but in the event his shot had no pace or direction.
Ashley Jackson’s 35th minute free kick almost eluded Ali Barcherini at the foot of the post but the Belper ‘keeper, who was back between the posts after missing the midweek defeat against Newcastle, got across well to make the save.
The Nailers applied good pressure in the last ten minutes with good crosses coming in from both flanks although the Romulus defence swallowed these up effectively.
A scoreless first half would have been just right on the balance of play, but the Nailers conceded right on the stroke of half time when Naveed Arshad ‘s bobbling shot eluded the outstretched arms of Ali Barcherini.
It was a bad time to concede a goal, but the Nailers started the second period in buoyant mood with Jon Froggatt whipping a 48th minute free kick just over the cross bar.
There was an anxious moment when Matt Plant’s attempted clearance bounced on top of the cross bar in the 55th minute, then Andy Rushbury hit a tremendous shot against the bar three minutes later to raise Belper spirits.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas put a great chance wide from an Andy Rushbury cross on the hour mark, and at this stage the Nailers were looking favourites to get a deserved equaliser.
Barcherini kept the Nailers in the hunt with a superb stop when Peter Faulds looked set to score on 63 minute, then Andy Rushbury cut inside to hit a curling right foot shot just past the angle.
However in the 68th minute a lapse of concentration led to Belper’s downfall when the unmarked Marcus Brown headed Ashley Jackson’s corner kick home at the far post.
The Nailers tried to fight back and put pressure on the Rom’s goal in the latter stages however and Jon Froggatt looked to have got through in the 86th minute and had the ball taken off his toe just before he could shoot.
There’s a rather forlorn look about Belper Town nowadays that extends from the management, to the players and supporters, and with nearly six weeks of the season left, it’s beginning to look as though everyone is just going through the motions.
Romulus: Cooper, Evans, Paskin, Robinson, Male, Baker, Link, Faulds, Brown, Arshad, Jackson. Unused subs: Day, Evans, Forrester, Barnett, Exall.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride, Thompson, Darker, Adams (Davis 74), Plant, Wiggins-Thomas (Thomas 61), Simmons (Rushbury 33), Froggatt, Thorpe, Weir.
Unused subs: Barnard, Carney.
Referee: Mark Whaley (Plymouth)