An embarrassing evening for Belper Town
A fourth straight devastating defeat ended with Belper relinquishing seven to a Cleethorpe Town side struggling for form.
Anton Daniels and Dylan Garnett returned to the starting line-up, Sam Birks, Aaron Cole and Max Thornberry dropped to the bench. Jorge Knowles and Fenwick Butcher make a rare appearance, with Will Dennis missing.
Rarely will a first half with two goals have such little action.
After heavy defeat to Chasetown, not conceding early was top priority to try and steady any angst hanging over the team. To Belper’s credit they remained resolute for the opening exchanges.
However, one moment of hesitation at the back and a failure to clear their lines allowed Luke Aldrich to sweep home the opener, the beginning of the Belper battering.
Three minutes before the half, Ollie Donald rose the highest to glance his header in off the underside of the bar to cap off a dull yet ultimately damning 45 for The Nailers.
Just shy of the hour mark two became three. Curtis Bateson beat his marker down the line, assisting his second of the night and supplying Jack Richardson to smash home.
Despite playing less than 24 hours previous in a gruelling trip to Gresley, Cleethorpes to their credit had more life and energy across the park than any of the Belper side, still feeling the backlash from Saturday.
A simply nightmarish final ten minutes for the home side completed the Cleethorpes crushing.
Kieran Wressell was first, stealing in round the back completely unmarked from the corner kick, stabbing home the fourth.
Substitute Daniel North increased Belper’s pain and highlighted their weak spot at the back, rushing through on goal from a simple ball over the top to slot past Joe Searson-Smithard.
Belper couldn’t last 60 seconds without letting in another, Brody Robertson in this instance arrowing his strike into the bottom corner as an air of despair hung over the Marston stadium.
Still ‘The Owls’ weren’t satisfied and had a taste for goals. With 90 on the clock, Bateson turned provider once more, picking a precise cross onto the toe of North for his second and a shameful seven.
In a sentence: Cleethorpes were completely clinical, cut throat and concise, everything Belper were not. ‘Men against boys’ seemed very appropriate on the night and Belper were desperately missing some big characters on the pitch.
The final home game of the season invites Kidsgrove Athletic as the opposition on the weekend, it’s uncertain how confident Belper will be going into this one.
Belper Town: Searson-Smithard, Hunt, Butcher, Knowles, McIntosh, Harrison, Steele, Lloyd, Daniels (Birks 58), Williamson (Cole 69), Garnett. Unused subs: Thornberry, Taylor, Brumby.
Cleethorpes Town: Birch, Lacy, Winn, Richardson, Wressell, Donald, Bateson, Flett (Robertson 72), Cooper (North 63), Aldrich, Davis. Unused subs: Lowe.
Ref: Stuart Richardson