Grantham Town 2 Belper Town 1
Matt Plant’s unfortunate error in the 89th minute consigned Belper Town to defeat against play off hopefuls Grantham Town at the South Kesteven Stadium.
Manager Andy Carney retained the same starting line up that had performed so well at league leaders Barwell in midweek, while the Gingerbreads knew that only a victory was good enough to keep them in the hunt for a play-off place.
The last time the Nailers won at Grantham was in 1964 and until Plant’s error there was a strong possibility that Belper could have over turned that record almost 50 years later.
Grantham’s need for league points and Belper’s desire to end the campaign on a high ensured that this encounter was anything but a drab end of season of season affair, and both teams contributed to an entertaining game.
Gio Carchedi was a whisker away from giving the hosts the lead in the 5th minute with a run and shot that sped past the post, then Jon Froggatt responded for the Nailers with a volley that wasn’t too far away.
Sam Saunders sent Carchedi away in the 9th minute with the Nailers caught up field but fortunately the Gingerbreads’ striker struck his shot across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
Aaron Pride collected the ball on the overlap in the 17th minute and found Matt Plant with a great cross to the far post, and the Belper defender looked on in frustration as his header cannoned away off the cross bar.
Pride was on hand to clear a Jamie McGhee header off the line two minutes later and shortly afterwards Ben Saunders put a great chance wide with only Ali Barcherini to beat.
At this stage the Nailers were under pressure but relief was to come in the 32nd minute when Jon Froggatt made the most of a breakaway situation and crossed perfectly for Darryl Thomas (pictured) to score with an unchallenged header.
Soon afterwards there was an unseemly incident involving nearly all 22 players and after much deliberation the referee booked two players from each side, when the sight of at a brace of red cards had been expected.
Belper’s lead disappeared in the 41st minute after a close range toe-poke from Ben Saunders dragged the Gingerbreads level, although the lions’ share of credit should go to Gio Carchedi who had created the opportunity with a powerful run and cross from the bye-line.
The Nailers were presented with an unexpected opportunity just before the break when the ‘keeper made a complete hash of collecting a long throw in and the ball fell to Ruben Wiggins-Thomas who couldn’t find the target from an acute angle.
On the stroke of half time Jamie Smith hit a firm drive over the top and as the players trooped off for the interval, the Nailers could be well pleased with their efforts.
Jon Froggatt was caught in two minds when an inviting cross came over in the first minute of the second half, and the ball drifted away from him, then as Belper threatened again in the 50th minute, Charlie Weir scooped a Lee Thompson cross over the bar from 12 yards.
Carchedi blew another opportunity at the other end when he tamely shot at Ali Barcherini, then Darryl Thomas was similarly wasteful with a careless blast over the top on 52 minutes.
Former Belper player Chris Glarvey stung the fingers of Barcherini with a blistering effort on 54 minutes and Carchedi couldn’t turn in the rebound and added to the striker’s embarrassment.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas got goal side of Lee Potts just after the hour mark and could only slide the ball wide of the far post, and as this absorbing game continued to pulsate, Lee Thompson was a couple of inches away from connecting with Darryl Thomas well thought out cross on 76 minutes.
Matt Millns turned to hit the inside of the post with 10 minutes left on the clock, and then just as Belper looked set to gain a hard earned point Matt Plant, ironically one of Belper’s best performers on the day could only head the ball to the feet of Rob Norris who made no mistake with a close range volley.
The Nailers didn’t deserve to lose at Barwell in the week and they certainly shouldn’t have lost this game against Grantham, but unfortunately this has been the way things have panned out more often than not this season
Grantham Town: Murray, Purcicoe, Potts, Asher, Saunders, Watt, Lewis (Norris 73), Glarvey (Millns 73), McGhee (Glass 73), Saunders, Carchedi. Unused subs: Dyson, Beardsley.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Pride, Davis, Thompson, Plant, Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Smith (Thorpe 73), Froggatt, Thomas (Rushbury 78), Weir. Unused subs: Fedorenko, Simmons, Darker.
Referee: A Harvey (Nottingham)