Nailers extend winning sequence
Belper Town recorded a third consecutive victory in all competitions with a 2-1 victory over Loughborough Dynamo at the Silver X Stadium, writes Danny Bloomer.
PHOTO: Nathan Curtis heads the Nailers into a two-goal lead (Pic: Tim Harrison)
Manager Grant Black made two changes from the midweek second round Integro League Cup victory over AFC Mansfield as Leigh Overton returned in goal in place of Jordan Watson and Nelthorpe replaced top scorer Curtis.
Belper began the first half on the front foot and should have been ahead inside five minutes. A raking cross field pass from Cameron Clark picked out Piteu Crouz but he saw his shot parried into the path of Nelthorpe who was once again denied by Loughborough goalkeeper Charlie Taylor.
The visitors struggled to create many clear-cut chances but felt they should have had a penalty on 18 minutes. Belper captain Alex Peterson appeared to drag down former Nailer Louis Keenan but their appeals were waved away.
Defender Isaac Assenso picked up his fifth booking of the season for a foul on Josh Riley which means he’ll miss next week’s visit to Carlton Town, along with Kai Hancock who was sent off in midweek.
The opening half hour was a scrappy affair, a long-ranged half volley from striker Ryan Robbins dipped just wide of Leigh Overton’s goal and that was the closest Loughborough came to break the deadlock.
12 minutes before the break, Belper were awarded a penalty. Centre back Danny South was hauled over and referee Alistair Nelson showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Craig Nelthorpe, who was a constant menace down the left all afternoon, sent Taylor the wrong way as he powered his penalty into the bottom right corner.
After opening the scoring, the hosts began to dominate the proceedings and thought they had doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time. Dynamo captain Jared Holmes was dispossessed on the edge of the area by George Milner, he squared to Hancock who tapped in, but he saw his effort ruled out for offside.
Shortly after the restart, Loughborough’s task of getting back into the game was made even harder as top scorer Karl Demidh limped off to be replaced by Liam Read.
Belper picked up where they left off and were once again in the ascendancy at the beginning of the second half.
Hancock’s pace caused the Dynamo back four problems all day and he saw his powerful low shot saved after a lovely through ball by Piteu Crouz.
Two minutes later the hosts spurned another golden opportunity. A well-crafted corner routine from Nelthorpe picked out Milner but he sliced his effort well wide.
The Nailers were almost made to rue those missed chances half way through the second half when Holmes’ cut back found Robbins unmarked in the area, but his goal bound shot was blocked on the line by his own player, Riley.
A superb through ball from Crouz put Nelthorpe in the clear but his chipped finish was saved by Taylor with Hancock standing unmarked waiting for a tap in.
Ten minutes from time, Belper were finally rewarded for their dominance as they doubled their advantage. A pin point cross from Hancock found substitute Nathan Curtis unmarked in the six-yard box and he nodded home for his second goal in as many games with his first touch.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the hosts though, with 88 minutes on the clock Loughborough pulled one back. Riley’s free kick was flicked into the top corner by Luke Thorogood to set up a grand stand finish.
Belper managed to see the game out relatively comfortably as defensive rock Danny South headed away anything that came into the penalty area.
The victory means Belper stay in touch with the play-off places and the Nailers next travel to Carlton Town, a team lingering in the bottom reaches of the Evo Stik East division.
Belper Town; Overton, Assenso, Clark, Robson, South, Peterson ©, Crouz (Hough 84), Gordon, Milner (Curtis 76), Hancock, Nelthorpe. Unused subs: Sturgess, Lucas, Esmaeily.
Loughborough Dynamo; Taylor, Asamoah, Keenan, Holmes ©, Foster, Sibson (Gordon 76), Young (Brown 70), Thorogood, Demidh (Read 48), Robbins, Riley. Unused subs: Oliver, Riettie.
Referee: Alistair Nelson