10-man Nailers earn share of the spoils
By David Laughlin
Belper Town kept their nerve to collect a useful point from one of the front runners in the division this season, and could even have taken all three points close to the end, writes Nigel Oldrini.
PHOTO: So close! - Piteu Crouz's late effort rebounds off the post as Belper almost snatches all three points (Pic: Mike Smith)
Piteu Crouz kept his place after an impressive substitute appearance against AFC Mansfield while Craig Nelthorpe was named on the bench.
The Nailers made a solid start with Danny Gordon having the game’s first attempt when his 9th minute volley flew straight at Robert Dean in the Marske goal.
Last season’s Northern League champions were stunned when Piteu Crouz latched on to the ball on 11 minutes and after striding forward to the edge of the penalty unleashed a tremendous shot that flew into the net almost before the Seasiders ‘keeper could react.
The goal awakened Marske’s early inertia and they came into the game when Chay Liddle hit a first time volley just wide then a neat back heel from Jamie Owens gave Liddle a sight of goal and again he was just wide of the mark.
Alex Peterson put George Milner in possession on 28 minutes and Milner suddenly found the way to goal open for him, but he over ran the ball and a very good opportunity had been lost.
Soon afterwards another chance came Belper’s way after Piteu Crouz intercepted the ball and fed George Milner whose shot came back to Nathan Curtis, but with time to make his mind up, Curtis saw his effort cleared off the line.
Marske’s equaliser was conceded in disappointing fashion on 38 minutes as Jamie Owens’ header was unchallenged on the edge of the six yard box and the Seasiders’ striker had plenty of time to place to pick his spot.
Craig Gott fired wide when well placed on 42 minutes, however Belper ended the half strongly when Nathan Curtis forced his way through only to shoot tamely at the ‘keeper then on the stroke of half time he was unfortunate not to have done better with another individual effort.
In the second half the visitors began to show why they had been promoted as champions as they took the game to Belper, giving the impression that they could easily step up a gear.
Darol Lucas had to be at his best to stop Curtis Round flying past him inside the first minute of the restart, then Craig Gott hit a 20 yard effort over the bar.
Curtis Round put the Seasiders ahead on 57 minutes when he was released by Gott and this time with Lucas out of position he had the freedom of the park to lash the ball past James Leverton giving the ‘keeper no chance of intervening.
The Nailers were struggling at this point but with Danny South in imperious form they restricted Marske to half chances, but when George Milner was sent off after receiving a second yellow in the 65th minute, the outlook looked bleak for the hosts.
Danny South saved James Leverton’s blushes after he let a corner slip through his hands on 69 minutes and the Belper defender hooked the ball off the line, however as the game entered the latter stages the Nailers found that they could cause the visitors problems in their own penalty area.
In fact in the 76th minute Alex Peterson jumped to head the ball from a free kick and the ball might easily after dropped into the goal as the ‘keeper appeared to lose track of it.
Better was to come from the resulting corner kick as Alex Peterson ghosted in unseen to head the ball just inside the near post to score an welcome equaliser.
Marske tried to step up the pace as they must have thought that the game was won until then, and it took some sterling defending to snuff out everything the Seasiders’ threw at them.
And incredibly, Belper could have had a winning goal, in the last minute, after some great footwork from Piteu Crouz opened up the opportunity for a shot and his carefully placed effort came back off the upright.
It was a hard-won point against one of the better sides in the division and extends Belper’s unbeaten run to four games in all competitions.
Belper Town: Leverton, Lucas, Clark, Robson, South, Assenso, Curtis, Gordon (Nelthorpe 35), Peterson , Milner, Crouz. Unused subs: Paylor, Sturgess, Johal, Esmaeily.
Marske United: Dean, Martin, O’Sullivan, Butterworth, May, Wheatley, Liddle (Waters) 80), Gott, Hayes, Owens, Round. Unused subs: Stevens, Hillerby, Owen, Brockbank
Referee: Martyn Fryer