Belper blow two-goal lead and lose again
By David Laughlin
Belper led by two goals to nil at half-time but fell apart in the second half, writes Richard Phelps.
The Nailers got off to a flying start, really taking the game to their opponents and in the 10th minute, were awarded a penalty, for a push on George Milner.
Craig Nelthorpe made no mistake from the spot and slammed home his penalty, right into the top corner.
Two minutes later, the Nailers nearly doubled their lead through Danny Gordon’s left-footed strike from distance, but the ball flew over.
On 18 minutes, they had another good chance, when Milner crossed for Nathan Curtis, who headed just wide.
As for the home side, they’re only real chance of the first half came with eight minutes to the break, when a free-kick of theirs was deflected goal-wards.
The effort was well saved by Belper goalkeeper, Leigh Overton though and the ball was cleared by the visitors, eventually, following a hectic, goalmouth scramble.
Then, just before half-time, Town doubled their lead. Piteu Crouz took advantage of a slip from a Collieries defender and his collected finish found the far corner.
Grant Black’s men had played well in the opening 45 minutes and went into the interval with what looked like, a commanding 2-0 lead.
Five minutes after the restart, Overton was called into action once again. This time, making a fine save from a back-post header, following a dangerous free-kick.
On the hour mark, Pontefract pulled a goal back. Chris Jackson tapped in from a Jack Greenhough cross to give the hosts a lifeline.
Seconds later, they equalised.
Excellent work from Michael Dunn down the left-hand side led to him cutting inside and rifling a low shot towards goal.
The ball hit Overton but, given the pace of the shot, the keeper couldn’t keep it out and from nowhere, the two teams were level.
Louis Danquah, a new signing from Mansfield Town, nearly gave Belper an instant response on his debut, but his effort hit the outside of the post.
In the 67th minute, Pontefract completed their comeback and took the lead through a towering header from captain, Spencer Clarke.
However, the Nailers’ Curtis, had opportunities to equalise. Firstly, with a quarter of an hour to go, his volley went just wide.
While, on 78 minutes, his left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area crept wide of the far post.
Moments later, a deflected Crouz free-kick and an Assenso header, both also, narrowly missed the target.
With 3 minutes of the 90 to go, Curtis was given his marching orders, after a second bookable offence.
Earlier, the forward was booked for dissent and Curtis was later sent off for a late, mistimed challenge on Clarke.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Collieries striker, Eli Hey, ran through on goal but was tripped inside the area.
Referee, Mark Powell, pointed to the spot and Hey stepped up to convert the penalty and give his team all three points.
That proved to be the last of the chances and having lost the match 4-2 by letting a two-goal advantage slip, the Nailers will be very disappointed.
The defeat means that Belper fall to ninth in the league table, ahead of their home match against Frickley Athletic next Saturday.
Pontefract Collieries: Musslewhite, Greenhough, Jeffs (Cotton 45), Brown, Picton, Clarke ©, Smythe, Bailey (Cromack 45), Hey Jackson, Dunn (Guest 91).
Belper Town: Overton, Assenso, Nelthorpe, Robson (Sturgess 85), Colbear, Peterson © (Mackie 59), Danquah (Owen 69), Gordon, Curtis, Milner, Crouz.
Referee: Mark Powell