Nailers regret lacklustre first half performance
Belper were beaten 3-1 by Tadcaster Albion, being made to regret a lacklustre first half which was at least redeemed by a stronger second, writes Nathaniel Kay.
PHOTO: Peter Crouz scored Belper's goal from the penalty spot
Despite his midweek hat-trick, Kai Hancock started on the bench as talisman George Milner returned to the fold. Derry Robson came in for Rikki Paylor, the latter ending an impressive run of seven successive starts.
Only goal difference separated Belper and their in-form visitors, so it was all was to play for in the play-off race.
Tadcaster hadn’t tasted defeat in their previous five league fixtures and it was evident they hadn’t travelled to let that slip.
Belper’s backline came under the cosh in the opening exchanges and their resistance was tested by a physically imposing opposition.
Prolific marksman Joe Lumsden looked to catch Leigh Overton out with a clever flicked header, the Belper ‘keeper tipping the effort over the crossbar in acrobatic fashion.
Finally the defence buckled under the increasing pressure.
A sequence of fouls committed by the Nailers finally paid the price, Billy Whitehouse capitalised from the free kick as he swiped home the opening goal for Tadcaster as the Nailers defence stood transfixed.
As the fouls continued to mount up, Belper were subjected to conceding yet again from a set piece.
Referee Gareth Thomas originally pointed to the spot after Craig Nelthorpe was deemed to trip Whitehouse inside the penalty area but after discussion with his officials, the decision was altered to a free kick right outside.
It made little difference as Paddy Miller sailed an unstoppable strike past Overton who could only stand and admire.
A mammoth second half was to be asked of Grant Black’s side as they looked to save their own recent good fortune and a triple change in personnel at the interval was a clear indicator that proceedings needed to change.
Set piece specialist Miller tested Leigh Overton, curling his effort round the wall before the Belper ‘keeper saved smartly to his right-hand side.
An inspired Belper started to launch a recovery as they began to believe in their ability going forward.
Kai Hancock had several bites at the cherry as Tadcaster began to ride their luck.
His first effort, an unmarked header flew straight at visiting ‘keeper Michael Ingham whilst the second was partially blocked as ball struck the base of a post before being hacked away
Searching for a comeback inevitably left Belper’s rearguard wide open and Tadcaster took advantage on the break.
Peter Davidson drifted past attempted challenges to the by-line, pulling back to Joe Lumsden, whose finish was never in doubt.
It wasn’t all misery though. Alex Peterson went down in the penalty box following a clumsy challenge and Peter Crouz converted the spot kick to redeem a slice of pride from a decent second half performance.
The score line could have been different had Belper tucked away the numerous chances they created for themselves and Danny Gordon was unfortunate to see his header cannon back off the crossbar.
On a sour note, Jake Sturgess was sent for an early shower after receiving two needless yellow cards as Belper ended the match with ten men.
On another day, Grant Black’s boys might have taken points away from one of the league’s high climbers yet they were given a clear lesson that play-off places will not be handed on a plate.
Belper Town: Overton, Lucas, Clark, Gordon, Peterson, Assenso, Nelthorpe (Paylor 45), Robson, Curtis (Hancock 45), Milner (Sturgess 45), Crouz. Unused subs: Esmaiely, Hough.
Tadcaster Albion: Ingham, Barkworth (Barrett 88), Walters, Rose (Roper 86), Coates, Miller, Whitehouse (Stewart 75), Davidson, Lumsden, Howarth, Savory. Unused subs: Mycoe, Hardy.
Referee: Gareth Thomas