Late goals maintain Belper's winning run
By David Laughlin
Two late goals saw Belper deservedly take all three points against Rainworth at Kirklington Road, and move into a play-off position at the expense of Gresley FC on goal difference.
Glyn Cotton marks his return to the club with a stunning shot from the edge of the area to give Belper the lead (Photo: Tim Harrison)
The Nailers put Glyn Cotton straight into the side following his re-signing last week from Matlock Town and he proved to be the difference in a closely contested encounter against the Wrens who were just behind Belper in the league table.
Chris Adam, another former Belper player who returned to Christchurch Meadow recently, was named as a substitute and with Aaron Pride out through injury, Andy Rushbury started at left back with Greg Wright on the other flank.
Rainworth had former Belper players Alessandro Barcherini, Mark Camm, Justin Jenkins and Dan White in their squad as they attempted to complete the double over the Nailers after winning the corresponding league game at Christchurch Meadow thanks to Jordan Turner penalty.
After a scrappy start to the game Ryan Goward had the first shot on target in the 8th minute although it was an easy one for Aaron Chapman to deal with.
Andy Rushbury sent over a great cross in the 3 minutes later but some unseen tugging on Jon Froggatt’s shirt meant that the Belper striker was never going to reach the ball.
Eric Graves struck a wayward effort over the top in the 20th minute and the game had descended into a scrappy affair with neither side able to impose themselves on the other.
Kieran Walker had Aaron Chapman stretching with an in-swinging cross from the right and as the Wrens began to enjoy more possession, Ryan Goward’s run and shot in the 27th minute looked bang on target before Ian Holmes intervened with his head and sent the ball wide.
Belper’s best move so far came two minutes later when they broke clear through Jon Froggatt who slipped the ball through for Daryll Thomas who quickly bore down on goal.
Alessandro Barcherini narrowed the angle quickly and managed to divert Thomas’s shot out for a corner kick, from which Karl Colley headed just over despite more shirt pulling from a Wrens defender.
Glyn Cotton provided a piece of excellence the game desperately needed in the 32nd minute when he set himself up for a shot from just outside the penalty area and despatched an inch-perfect delivery just under the cross bar and out of reach of the ‘keeper.
Shaun Roulston nearly made it two just before half time but couldn’t keep his header down from a Simon Harrison free kick, and despite having the lion’s share of possession, the Nailers’ slender lead looked vulnerable in the second half.
In fact Rainworth were level in the 50th minute when Callum Lloyd nodded the ball over the goal line after some comedic defending from Belper who looked to have thrown their lead away very cheaply indeed.
However the Nailers dug deep and stemmed the flow of enthusiasm created by the Wrens early fight-back and immediately had an opportunity to regain the lead when Simon Harrison forged a chance in the 62nd minute, but couldn’t find pace or accuracy with his shot.
Harrison struck his next effort with more composure but Alessandro Barcherini saved well and the former Belper custodian then did well to keep Harrison’s 69th minute corner kick out as it curled in viciously at the near post.
Jon Froggatt over hit a half-chance with 15 minutes to go and despite the increasing pressure the Nailers were applying on the Rainworth goal, it was looking ever likely that a draw would be the outcome.
However the referee finally spotted one of the many shirt pulling incidents that had been prevalent during the game when Lee Cooksey hauled down Richard Adams in the 87th minute and with a penalty awarded, Froggatt stepped up to despatch the spot kick just inside the post and well out of reach of the ‘keeper.
The Nailers made certain of the points when the pacy Shaun Tuton fired a low cross into the six-yard area where Jon Froggatt was waiting to provide a close range finish but the ball never reached him as Wrens defender Ashley Kitchen diverted the ball into his own net.
This was a significant result and performance against one of the better teams in the league and the Nailers will need to maintain this standard if they want to remain in the play-off places.
Rainworth MW: Barcherini, Walker, Hanson, Camm, Kitchen, Cooksey, Lloyd, Holmes, Higginson, Holmes J (Kimberley 88), Goward (Jenkins 88). Unused subs: Burton, White.
Belper Town: Chapman, Wright, Rushbury, Cotton, Roulston, Colley (Adams 34), Harrison (Adam 81), Warne, Froggatt, Thomas (Tuton 62), Graves. Unused subs: Ward, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Dean Bradshaw (Sheffield)