Same old sorry story for Belper
Deeper despair for the home fans as they watched Belper fall to a fifth consecutive defeat at the hands of Kidsgrove Athletic, the final game at the Marston Stadium this campaign.
Despite a Kidsgrove side only winning twice in 16 league fixtures, the away side inevitable started the brighter than Belper in the sunshine.
After consecutive corners, Daniel Skelton got the definitive touch to finally capitalise on the sequence of set pieces and so began another routine day at the office for The Nailers.
While one side looked hungry for every first, second and third ball another looked completely starved of anything resembling confidence and the score line was the biggest clue.
It was a piece of finery for the second however instead of sheer desire. Kyle Diskin bent his freekick as accurate as possible into the corner of Joe Searson-Smithard’s net 17 minutes into the tie.
Joe Hunt fashioned one of the few glimpses of the Kidsgrove goal, lining up a shot from range which looked destined to greet the goal, if not for a deflection to take it wide.
If there was one name on the opposition team sheet Belper wouldn’t have wanted to score was Eric Graves. Graves clearly didn’t read the script, tapping in against his former employers after Lee Cropper put it on a plate for him.
An accumulation of successive harrowing defeats plunged Belper into a side without steel or authority to take the game by the scruff of its neck.
And if there was a moment to summarise the season, Johnathan Jebbison unfortunately took the lead role. Sam Birks squared the ball to Jebbison, who only had to roll the ball into an empty net. Agonisingly, the ball stuck underneath his feet and the ball was cleared. Luckily for everyone involved, the linesman flag had already been waved for offside.
A rare flash of celebration came shy of the hour, Will Dennis showing the greatest degree of determination to win the ball first and head home a consolation.
While Belper looked for what was an impossible turn around, acres of space appeared at the back and Kidsgrove will have been kicking themselves they didn’t make more of it.
Like a carbon copy, Diskin and Tim Sanders both rushed through on goal from the right-hand side and instead of seeing the net bulge, they dragged their shots wide of the far post.
The pantomime villain Graves almost doubled his tally if it wasn’t for Callum Lloyds intervention of the line, as one Belper captain foiled an ex.
Stricken with injuries and poor form, the odds were always stacked against the home side, but it was simply another weak attempt at taking anything from a winnable tie.
All that’s left now for is an away trip to Newcastle Town as the season comes to a dampened close.
Belper: Searson-Smithard, Hunt, Cole, Williamson, Dennis, Harrison, Steele (Daniels 86), Lloyd, Birks, Garnett, Jebbison. Unused subs: McIntosh, Knowles, Taylor, Brumby.
Kidsgrove: Parton, Thompson, Lingard, Jepson, Ashman, Graves, Diskin, Skelton (Davidson 60), Sanders, Cropper (Malbon 82), Valido-Barai (Duke 70).
Ref: Jack Hall