Nailers throw it away in second half
By David Laughlin
Belper supporters were left thoroughly deflated after this Bank Holiday defeat against local rivals Gresley, especially as they had been cruising at half time, two goals to the good.
PHOTO: Craig Nelthorpe's free kick sails past Jack Livesey (Pic: Tim Harrison)
What happened in the second half was difficult to take let alone understand, but the Moatmen turned the tables completely, although their injury time winner was a little hard on the Nailers.
Nathan Curtis had an early chance to open the scoring but didn’t connect cleanly with his shot from a Dominic Allen cross after 2 minutes.
Martyn Smyth had Gresley’s first serious shot on 6 minutes however James Leverton, making his second appearance for Belper saved well at the foot of the post.
With Belper settling well into the game a great move involving Craig Nelthorpe and Piteu Cruez promised much but delivered little as the ball was defended before a shot could be taken.
The industrious Nelthorpe almost found Danny South with a good cross on 24 minutes but the central defender just couldn’t stretch far enough.
However with Gresley feeling the pressure from Belper, a 25th minute mix up between Jack Livesey and his defenders allowed Nathan Curtis the opportunity to slide the ball into the empty net for the opening goal.
From that point on it was virtually one way traffic with Belper dominating the rest of the half, and when Craig Nelthorpe delivered an exquisitely struck free kick on 33 minutes, there was surely no way back for the visitors.
Nelthorpe might have added another soon afterwards when he volleyed a free kick just wide, and with Belper looking dangerous with every move, Nathan Curtis’ header went wide when perhaps he should have hit the target.
Belper hit the ground running after the break and another well struck free kick by Nelthorpe was, this time saved by Livesey, but after this the nightmare began for Grant Black’s men.
Gresley were better than they were in the first half certainly, but it just wasn’t the same Belper side that that had impressed earlier.
Previously star man Craig Nelthorpe tarnished his display by giving away a penalty that Martin Smyth managed to squeeze inside the post with Leverton at full stretch, and after this the Nailers lost all their composure of the first half and began to panic, which played into the visitors’ hands.
While the Moatmen held territorial advantage for long spells, Belper did managed to break away without making the most of promising situations.
Unfortunately the equaliser came from a free kick on 72 minutes that the ‘keeper appeared to misjudge, allowing Kieran O’Connell the opportunity to score with a glancing header.
The game ramped up considerably with both sides looking for a winner.
End to end football was very exciting for spectators and the last 10 minutes or so was a free for all when anything could have happened, however as the game looked set to be a draw, Gresley’s Dexter Morris-Clarke broke Belper hearts with a deflected winner seconds before the final whistle.
It was great Bank Holiday entertainment for the fans but not the result that Belper wanted or deserved after a topsy-turvy game in which a share of the spoils would have probably been fair.
Belper Town. Leverton, Lucas (Day 69), Clark, Paylor, South, Peterson, Nelthorpe, Allen, Curtis, Milner, Crouz (Ambulu 64). Unused subs: Gordon, Johal, Elliott.
Gresley FC: Livesey, Roome (Harrison 43), Branch, Barrett, Jellyman, Morris-Clarke, Landsdown (Morgan 90), Graves, Smyth, O’Connell (Evans 90), Lee. Unused subs: Steadman, Steele.
Referee: Gareth Davis