Nailers fail to impress in stalemate
By David Laughlin
Belper Town struggled to impose themselves against lowly Mickleover Sports and the only positive outcome from the afternoon was that they emerged with their unbeaten record intact.
Mark Ward's late effort just clears the Mickleover crossbar as the Nailers tried in vain for a decisive goal (Picture: Tim Harrison)
Manager Peter Duffield decided to make changes from the team that won by a last-minute Jon Froggatt strike on Easter Saturday and opted to leave his top goal scorer on the bench.
Dan White was preferred ahead of Richard Adams in defence while Colin Marrison, victim of an unfair sending off against Sutton Coldfield, was named as a substitute.
A blustery cross wind didn’t help matters when it came to playing good football although Belper started the game well and put pressure on Mickleover in the early stages.
However it took until the 17th minute before the Nailers had an effort on goal and this was a Shaun Roulston glancing header from a Simon Harrison free kick.
John Guy crunched into Belper skipper Steve Warne on 24 minutes and earned himself a yellow card, however Glyn Cotton’s free kick into the penalty area came to nothing as Sports cleared the danger with ease.
Shaun Tuton showed good strength minutes later and threaded the ball through for Eric Graves but Joe McCormack came out quickly to claim the ball.
The home team began to get more possession as the half wore on and in the 34th minute Martin Smythe had a fierce goal bound shot blocked by a team mate, however Belper’s best chance of the half came in the 41st minute after Simon Harrison’s weaving run ended with Glyn Cotton mis-kicking from 12 yards and then Shaun Tuton couldn’t divert the ball towards goal.
Tuton was put in with a chance after some great work from Eric Graves on the stroke of half time, but credit was due to Joe McCormack who blocked the shot with his legs.
A sizeable Easter Monday crowd and Belper supporters in particular, looked for something better after the break but they were to be disappointed as the second half was scrappy and uninspiring.
Mark Ward was brought down on the edge of the penalty area on 55 minutes and took the kick himself although he was a little too high with his otherwise well-struck effort.
Mickleover came very close to opening the scoring when Alex Steadman went off on a run and was allowed to take the ball much too far before shooting, but fortunately Aaron Chapman managed to get a hand to it.
Mark Ward turned and shot straight at the ‘keeper in the 60th minute, but there was very little coming from the Nailers who looked tired and lacking ideas at this stage.
Jon Froggatt came on and had a couple of shots that went wide and it was all very frustrating as it became clear that the Nailers didn’t look like they were going to create an opportunity that would yield the goal that would have surely have been enough.
Deep into added-on time Belper forced a couple of corner kicks and hopes were raised that they could conjure up another later winner like they did against Sutton Coldfield.
And they almost did except that Mark Ward’s hook shot from the edge of the six yard area went just over the crossbar.
The game certainly fell short of being a classic but manager Peter Duffield will only be mildly consoled by the fact that the Nailers extended their run to 19 games unbeaten and that he was named Evo-Stik League manager of the month for March.
Mickleover Sports: McCormack, Berry, Guy, Kellogg (Burkett 90 + 2), Pheasant, Wood, Smythe, Grocott, Steadman, Ritchie-Smith, Sharpe. Unused subs: Benger, Webster, Hind, Kavayi.
Belper Town: Chapman, Wright, Rushbury, Cotton, Roulston, White, Harrison (Thomas 80), Warne, Ward, Tuton (Froggatt 65), Graves (Marrison 65). Unused subs: Adams, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Nigel Murphy (Mansfield)