Nailers rock Shaw Lane's title ambitions
Belper Town thrilled their fans with an excellent display to beat automatic promotion candidates Shaw Lane on a perfect Spring day at the Marston’s Stadium.
With striker Evan Garnett still on the injured list Ruben Wiggins-Thomas lead the line for the Nailers alongside Alex Steadman.
Spencer Harris flashed a shot just wide in the first minute as the visitors started with a flourish but the Nailers soon got into the game and had the Ducks on the back foot early on.
Harris put a header over from 13th minute corner kick, the game’s first of the afternoon, and on 22 minutes the Ducks won a free kick on the corner of the penalty area and Scott Low punched away Alex Byrne’s free kick.
A long clearance from Scot Low found Ruben Wiggins-Thomas who managed to force a corner kick from which Phil Watt headed wide.
The Nailers were competing well against the league leaders and on 39 minutes the Nailers created their best chance so far when Johnathan Williams hit a 40 yard pass for Wiggins -Thomas but he under hit his shot and the ‘keeper saved at the second attempt.
The Nailers took the lead from a Williams free kick in the 43rd minute and after the ball was headed on by skipper Eric Graves, as it looped under the cross bar, Phil Watt nodded it over the goal line.
Shaw Lane roared back and pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages of the half and they came close to scoring when Kelvin Lugsden headed just wide from a corner kick.
After a half time roasting from Ducks manager Craig Elliot, the visitor’s came out with renewed purpose but the Nailers stood resolute.
Phil Watt had a great chance to extend Belper’s lead in the 55th minute when he headed over from an unmarked position following a Williams corner kick.
Then the Nailers stunned Shaw Lane a minute later when a misplaced back pass by Neil Austin put Alex Steadman through on goal and he rounded the ‘keeper and slotted the ball in with precision and great skill.
The visitors responded with a scrappy goal on 61 minutes after the ball bounced around the Belper 6 yard box, and Gavin Allott bundled the ball over the line to put the league leaders right back in it.
Belper re-established their lead in the 70th minute after the Ducks had blocked Eric Graves’ header but with the ball falling to Ruben Wiggins-Thomas on the edge of the six yard area, he drilled the ball into the net.
Belper caught the visitors on the break minutes later and Alex Steadman pulled the ball back to Wiggins -Thomas but he fired over the cross bar.
The Nailers had the bit between their teeth now and looked likely to score with each attack as the visitors left themselves exposed at the back.
Belper were controlling all areas of the pitch and frustrating Shaw Lane’s every attacking movement, and although the Ducks put the pressure on in the closing moments of the game, it ended with the ball deep in the visitor’s half as the Nailers determination saw them clinch a superb victory.
Belper Town: Low, Allen (Richards 54), Goddard, Graves, Palmer, Watt, Steadman (Garnett D 72), Armstrong, Wiggins-Thomas (Birks 88), Williams, Guy. Unused subs: Butcher and Hunt.
Shaw Lane AFC: Zaniewski, Austin, Algar, Lenighan (Touhy 59), Lugsden (Kelvin), Qualter, Byrne, Harris, Allott, Lugsden (Keiran) (Gregory 82), Burnett (Abadaki 67). Unused sub: Radford
Referee: Kristian Silcock