Nailers share spoils with lively Lincoln
Belper led twice and put in a good performance but it wasn’t enough to deny a spirited Lincoln side, writes Richard Phelps.
PHOTO: Alex Peterson's header rebounds off the post to give Lincoln United a late let-off (Pic: Tim Harrison)
This was the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with both winning one apiece.
Neither started this match particularly well, with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball or create many meaningful chances.
This all changed with twenty minutes on the clock, when Ross Duggan, a new signing from Maltby Main brought in to replace the outgoing Kai Hancock, broke the deadlock.
The ball spun up in the air and the striker instinctively struck a controlled, left-footed volley into the bottom corner, giving Lincoln goalkeeper Philip McGann no chance.
The players had to endure terrible conditions as thick mud made the ball bobble throughout and pouring rain threatened to spoil the quality of the football being played.
The home side, who unveiled a brand-new electronic scoreboard in this match, controlled the opening 45 minutes, but couldn’t add to their slender lead.
It took until five minutes before half-time, for the away outfit to carve out their first real opportunity of the afternoon but Robert Norris could not show the same composure that Duggan had done when presented with a similar chance.
The Lincoln midfielder’s volley went well over, meaning that Belper headed into the interval leading 1-0 after what was a quiet opening half.
The second period was anything but that though and just three minutes following the restart, Lincoln forward Thomas Garrick’s speculative cross looped over Town keeper Leigh Overton’s head and flew straight into the top corner.
A quarter of an hour following that, the impressive George Milner raced through on goal only to be brought down by McGann.
Referee Paul Stonier pointed to the spot, brandishing the Lincoln shot-stopper with a yellow card in the process.
Craig Nelthorpe converted the resulting penalty, coolly striking the ball into the middle of the goal to make it 2-1 to the Nailers.
However, on 76 minutes, United equalised for the second time in the contest.
Ex-Belper midfielder, Johnathan Williams’ free-kick was too hot for Overton to handle and Matt Wilson was able to take advantage and bundle the ball home.
Overton made up for it just moments later, as he made a couple of fine saves to keep the score-line level.
The goal gave Lincoln a new sense of belief and they almost stole all 3 points in the 83rd minute, having a header from a corner cleared off the line.
Three minutes later, United substitute Kallum Smith received a straight red for a high-footed challenge. He could have few complaints, especially given that he was only on the pitch for five minutes.
With one minute of the 90 to go, Belper captain Alex Peterson’s header crashed against the inside of the post but somehow the ball didn’t cross the line.
In stoppage time, another substitute for the visitors, Kevin Hemagou, was given his marching orders. Firstly, he was booked for kicking the ball away and then Hemagou was sent off for repeated dissent.
Lincoln ended the game with just nine men but played their part in what was an entertaining match with the 2-2 draw being a fair result based on the balance of play.
It leaves Belper in sixth position in the league table on 30 points ahead of their Boxing Day clash with Sheffield FC, three points behind Lincoln who sit fifth.
Belper Town: Overton, Assenso, Clark, Robson, (Colbear 88), South, Peterson©, Curtis, Gordon, Duggan, (Hough 62), Milner, Nelthorpe. Other Subs:
Lincoln United: McGann, Blunden, (Hemagou 71), Matthews, Wright ©, Jacklin, Wilson, Norris, Williams, Cotton, Hutchinson, (Grimes 66), Garrick, (Smith 81). Other Subs.
Referee: Paul Stonier