Nailers put distance between challengers
By David Laughlin
Belper Town returned from the West Midlands with a vital three points against Halesowen Town who prior to the game were just one point behind the Nailers in the league table.
Aaron Chapman pulls off a remarkable save to keep our Aaron Griffiths' free kick (Picture: Halesowen Town FC)
Darryl Thomas had recovered from his groin strain so he took his place on the bench while Simon Harrison was preferred in midfield to Chris Adam who was also named as a substitute.
The Nailers were missing influential skipper Steve Warne who had sustained a leg injury in last Saturday’s draw at Kidsgrove Athletic. Colin Marrison took the captain’s armband.
Halesowen included the division’s leading goal scorer, Ben Haseley in their starting line-up.
With plenty at stake in a needle match, a pivotal moment arrived after just 13 minutes with Halesowen conceding a penalty and reduced to ten men with a red card for Brendan Kelly.
After home goalkeeper Paul Evans failed to claim Simon Harrison’s high free-kick, Jon Froggatt fired the loose ball towards goal where it struck Kelly’s arm.
Referee Scott Postin had no hesitation in awarding a penalty for deliberate handball and consequently had no option but to send off Kelly. Evans managed to get a good hand to the resulting penalty, but Froggatt’s spot-kick trickled into the net.
Halesowen responded well to the early setback as Neil Barnfield intercepted in midfield after 26 minutes to set up Luke Corbett but he screwed his shot wide of the goal frame.
Aaron Griffiths came close to an equaliser in the 31st minute with a well struck free from just outside the penalty area but Belper ‘keeper Aaron Chapman preserved the Nailers lead with a magnificent save.
Shaun Roulston tightened Belper’s grip on the game with a powerful header following Simon Harrison’s 39th minute corner kick and the Nailers went into the half-time break with a reasonably comfortable lead.
In the 48th minute substitute Warmer’s long free-kick was just turned around the post by Aaron Chapman and five minutes later Ben Haseley worked between two defenders before lobbing onto the top of the bar with Chapman rooted to the spot.
Glyn Cotton drove past the Halesowen post from long range in the 70th minute but Halesowen went close again after a swift break from Tom Warmer and Haseley led to Mitchell Botfield turning to shoot wide from a 78th minute corner.
But Shaun Tuton made it 3-0 to the Nailers on 79 minutes after cutting inside and beating the ‘keeper from just inside the penalty area.
Then Halesowen had two penalty awards inside the final 10 minutes.
In the 83rd minute Haseley was hauled down by Shaun Roulston for the first penalty, but Chapman saved with his legs as Haseley fired his spot-kick down the centre of goal.
Two minutes later, Haseley was brought down again but this time Luke Corbett fired the penalty home to give Halesowen a consolation goal.
Late on, Griffiths turned well, only to see his blistering effort turned just over the bar by Chapman and in the 90th minute Mitchell Botfield nodded Tom Warmer’s free-kick just wide.
These were a huge three points for the Nailers who now look capable of securing a play-off spot and are also within reach of Sutton Coldfield Town and possibly even Stamford.
Halesowen Town: Evans; Bowen (Kargbo 87), Meacham, Botfield, Hull, Kelly, Griffiths, Barnfield, Corbett, Haseley, Gueyes (Warmer 16). Unused Subs: Arshad, Hill, Flower.
Belper Town: Chapman; Wright, Rushbury, Cotton, Roulston, Adams, Harrison, Marrison, Froggatt (Ward 79), Tuton, Graves. Unused Subs: Adam, Thomas, Godber, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Scott Postin (Coventry)