Nailers leave Bracken Moor with all three points
By David Laughlin
Belper Town gave a battling display and collected three points from Bracken Moor in a feisty encounter against long time rivals Stocksbridge Park Steels, writes Nigel Oldrini.
PHOTO: Craig Nelthorpe (foreground) celebrates his cross that lead to Nathan Curtis's glancing header to put the Nailers two goals in front (Pic Tim Harrison)
New signing Leigh Overton went straight into the side displacing James Leverton in goal, while the continued absence due to suspension of Alex Peterson, and also George Milner, also through suspension.
Rikki Paylor was recalled to the starting line up, while Danny Frost continued to lead the attack.
Bracken Moor has always been a challenging environment for visiting Belper teams, and this was no different, excepting that the Nailers came away with a fine victory.
Belper made a lively start but were soon under pressure from Steels who used the long ball to good effect, and when given the opportunity moved the ball quickly on the ground too.
Craig Nelthorpe had Belper’s first direct shot on target in the 12th minute and the ball took a slight but decisive deflection off a Steels defender for a corner kick.
The Nailers had a spell of pressure in and around the 15th minute when they made various attempts on goal but the host’s defence managed to block all of them.
Stocksbridge were given an opportunity to take the lead on 22 minutes when Danny South was adjudged to have handled the ball, and although the decision appeared harsh, the referee awarded Steels a penalty kick.
New goalkeeper Leigh Overton, signed from Ossett United earlier in the week had an early opportunity to show his credentials and saved Rory Coleman’s well struck spot kick by diving to his right to make the save.
The penalty save was a turning point for the Nailers who began to work their way back into the game and Craig Nelthorpe’s shot straight at Jordan Amissah heralded an attacking spell for Belper that culminated in a goal on 35 minutes.
A cross into the Steels’ box was punched clear by Amissah but only to Nelthorpe who headed the ball back into the penalty area where Rikki Paylor was on hand to turn and volley in one sweet movement, and the ball flew high into the net. It was a superbly taken goal.
Steels wasted a half chance on 41 minutes when Alex Wiles connected poorly with the ball when there was only Overton to beat.
Danny Frost could have done better moments later after some brilliant set up play from Nathan Curtis, but he blasted over the bar from 15 yards.
The second half was mainly about stopping Stocksbridge settling on the ball and closing them down quickly, and the Nailers were very successful in doing this.
Nathan Curtis went on a solo run in the 50th minute but couldn’t get any power in his shot and clever build up play on 67 minutes culminated in a Craig Nelthorpe shot saved by the ‘keeper.
Belper’s energetic persistence blocked virtually everything that Stockbridge tried to do and when the Nailers had the ball, a goal always looked likely.
The second goal of the afternoon came from a set piece and Nelthorpe’s in swinging free kick was perfect for Nathan Curtis glancing header was enough to find its way inside the far post.
Belper could have had a third goal in the 74th minute after Piteu Crouz slipped past his marker and crossed into the box. The ball rebounded back to him and he made space for a clear shot on goal but could only put his effort over the bar.
Steels’ best spell came in the last few minutes when they forced three corners and from one of them Jake Sturgess had to kick the ball off the line and Leigh Overton made two crucial saves to keep the Nailers’ clean sheet intact.
Stocksbridge Park Steels: Amissah, Rhodes, Grayson, Thompson (Whitham 76), McFadyen, Charlesworth, Wiles, Coleman (Poulton 76), Litchfield, Ruthven, Swinburn. Unused subs: Miller, Reaney.
Belper Town. Overton, Lucas, Clark, Paylor, South, Assenso, Nelthorpe (Esmaeily 90), Robson, Curtis, Frost (Sturgess 85), Crouz Unused subs: Johal, Gordon.
Referee: Oliver Noonan