Late winner keeps play-off hopes alive
Belper Town won a nail-biting contest against play off rivals Leek Town with goal from leading scorer Jon Froggatt deep into added on time, and now a win in the final game against New Mills will see the Nailers compete for a promotion place.
The Nailers fielded a full strength side with Dan White being restored to the centre of defence at the expense of Greg Wright who was named as a substitute, but otherwise the starting line up was the same as the previous two games.
The Nailers had an early scare after only 2 minutes when Matt Bell slipped through, and with only Aaron Chapman to beat but the Belper ‘keeper got a touch on the ball and it went out for a corner kick.
Moments later Belper suffered a blow when Chris Adam limped off with a hamstring injury that he sustained in the warm up and he was replaced by Ben Leonard.
The game was played at a fast pace with tensions understandably high and in the 13th minute there was another anxious moment when Tim Grice sent a looping header just over the cross bar with Aaron Chapman struggling to cover.
The visitors were taking no chances and packed their defence with five and sometimes six players, including experienced striker and skipper Matt Haddrell, and after 25 minutes the Nailers hadn’t been able to find a way through to register a shot on target.
Ben Leonard managed to direct a 26th minute free kick goal bound but it was an easy take for Ben Chapman in the Leek goal, then in the 30th minute the Nailers came a bit closer when Andy Rushbury’s header forced the Leek ‘keeper into a diving save.
Jon Froggatt’s shot soon afterwards took a deflection away from the target, however the Nailers were beginning to trouble the visitors more frequently and they made the breakthrough in the 35th minute when Jon Froggatt nodded the ball on to the unmarked Ashley Longstaff, who delicately lobbed it over Ben Chapman to give Belper a foothold in the game.
Tim Grice put the ball across the face of goal in the 43rd minute as Leek had a rare moment in the Belper half but the Nailers had enjoyed the lions’ share of possession and went into the break deservedly in front.
Belper started the half on the offensive but could have conceded in the 51st minute when Tim Sanders whipped the ball into the feet of Tim Grice but he couldn’t get his angled shot past Aaron Chapman.
Jon Froggatt hit a shot on the turn in the 55th minute after good work from Glyn Cotton, but as the game ebbed and flowed Tom Grice volleyed a presentable opportunity well wide two minutes later.
Dan White had a header kicked off the line following a 62nd minute corner and the Nailers were searching for the comfort of a second, but also needed to be wary of Leek on the break.
Belper handed the visitors an opportunity after conceding a free kick on the edge of the penalty area but the defensive wall did its job by blocking Tim Sanders’ shot.
The golden opportunity to get the second goal came in the 77th minute when a deflection sent Ashley Longstaff clear but Ben Chapman got back to divert Longstaff’s shot away for a corner kick.
However it was Leek who scored in the 83rd minute when Matt Haddrell tucked away a cross from the right and in doing so stunned the majority of the crowd.
Ashley Longstaff nearly struck back moments later with a great shot that had Ben Chapman sprawling to save, but the Nailers really needed to step up the pace and get a winner if they could.
It eventually came from Jon Froggatt who had the ground in uproar 5 minutes into added on time.
After seeing his first two goal bound shots hit Leek players close to the goal line, he then stuck a delightful effort with the outside of his right foot into the far corner of the net, and sent everyone into raptures.
It's now all down to Saturday's final league game against New Mills whom they will have to beat to be certain of fourth place and a semi-final game against Carlton Town.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride, Weir, Cotton, White, Simpkins (Ward 71), Rushbury (Wright 71), Warne, Froggatt, Longstaff, Adam (Leonard 2). Unused subs: Turner Jordan, Ratcliffe.
Leek Town: Chapman B, Sanders, Bell, Guthrie, Danylyk, Bradbury (Nixon 75), Grice, Bridge, Haddrell, Cope (Edwards 84), Woolliscroft. Unused subs: Millar, Turner Jamie, Mellor
Referee: Geoff Law (Leicester)
Match Sponsor: Smith of Derby
Man of the Match: Glyn Cotton