Nailers stalemate as curtain come down on season
By David Laughlin
Belper Town were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Spalding United to ensure they ended the season five games unbeaten, writes Danny Bloomer.
PHOTO: Craig Nelthorpe battles for the ball (Pic: Tim Harrison)
The Nailers dominated possession throughout the afternoon but a resilient away defence, alongside some difficult weather conditions meant chances were few and far between.
Manager Grant Black made one change from the goalless Easter Monday draw at Sheffield, as Liam Owen came in for Derry Robson.
The game got off to a slow start as both side’s struggled to keep the ball but it was the visitors who came close to opening the scoring inside five minutes. Isaac Cooper pounced on a loose ball in midfield and curled an effort just wide of Sebastian Malkowski’s left post.
The Spalding game plan was evident from the off, as they soaked up everything that Belper had to throw at them.
It took 21 minutes for the hosts to fashion their first sight of goal, when Sam Colbear headed Danny Gordon’s free kick straight at Michael Duggan.
Black’s men were predominantly restricted to efforts from distance during the opening 45 and Alex Peterson went close when his dipping half volley bounced just wide.
The closest the Nailers came to break the deadlock came directly from a corner when Craig Nelthorpe’s wicked dead ball delivery was cleared off the line, just as it looked destined for the top corner.
The second half took a similar pattern to the first as once again the home side continued to dominate the ball without creating many clear-cut openings.
It took 20 minutes for Belper to carve out a chance when Liam Owen’s cross found Nathan Curtis at the back post, but his knock down was inches away from finding Peterson.
With 19 minutes to play the hosts thought they had found that elusive winning goal. Danny South headed in Gordon’s free kick; however, referee Jack Hall adjudged the centre back to have fouled the goalkeeper in the build-up.
Spalding then went close to opening the scoring themselves, as George Zuerner headed former Nailer James Cullingworth’s free kick over the crossbar.
Academy graduate Harry Dudley got his second taste of first team action and following some great work down the left, Gordon volleyed his cross straight at Duggan.
Neither side were able to conjure up any chances in the final ten minutes and the draw confirms a ninth placed finish for the Nailers, a significant improvement on the previous year.
Belper Town: Malkowski, Gordon, Assenso, Nelthorpe (Dudley 74), South ©, Colbear, Deacey, Owen (Clark 67), Peterson, Curtis, Crouz. Unused subs: Milner, Pugh.
Spalding United: Duggan, Hare, Hugo, Cullingworth, Misambo, Spafford, Moyses (Floyd 62), Everington, Mettam © (Fixter 90), Zuerner, Cooper. Unused subs: Brownell, White, Smith.
Referee: Jack Hall