Weakened Nailers see unbeaten run end
By David Laughlin
Belper Town lost their 23-game unbeaten record against league champions Kings Lynn Town, but the Nailers fielded a weakened team with Monday’s play-off semi-final against Stamford in mind.
The Kings Lynn players are given a guard of honour onto the Christchurch Meadow pitch. (Picture: Tim Harrison)
The Nailers welcomed the Linnets to Christchurch Meadow for the final league fixture of the season, and with the game holding little importance for either side manager, Peter Duffield made eleven changes, including four positional, from the team that won at Leek Town seven days earlier.
Dave Ratcliffe took over from Aaron Chapman in goal while Michael Simpkins and Ben Leonard were drafted in for their first games for many weeks.
Mark Ward and Daryll Thomas came in place of Shaun Tuton and Jon Froggatt while reserve team wide man Sam Vickers was given an opportunity to show what he can do at first team level.
The Belper Town players gave a guard of honour to Kings Lynn Town as they entered the field, and there were also presentations to Shaun Roulston and Jon Froggatt who shared the Supporters’ Player of the Year award.
The Nailers went a goal down after 7 minutes when Shane Tolley had time to turn and shoot past Dave Ratcliffe from 8 yards, after they had failed to deal with a Danny Beaumont cross.
Even though Belper had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the early stages they fell two behind 5 minutes later when Shane Tolley headed a powerful effort just under the cross bar from a Beaumont corner kick.
Michael Simpkins came close to reducing the arrears on 25 minutes with a header to the near post but Jordan Yong was on hand to clear off the line.
The Linnets came forward and scored a third in the 29th minute when Shane Tolley took advantage of a deflection that put him in on a one on one with Dave Ratcliffe and the Kings Lynn striker took the opportunity to complete his hat trick.
Mark Ward sent a looping header just over the cross bar in the 35th minute as Belper tried to get on the score sheet, then Chris Adam went on a run but scooped the ball over the target from 15 yards.
The game drifted towards half time without any further incident and the Nailers emerged after the break with a big job to do if they were going to preserve their unbeaten run.
Darryl Thomas had a great chance to score in the 54th minute when he got past the last man and found himself with only Danny Gay to beat, but the Linnets’ custodian came out bravely to block.
Sam Vickers had a good heading opportunity on 59 minutes but couldn’t direct it properly then Ben Leonard hooked the ball wide of the far post, whilst Daryll Thomas put in a tempting cross 2 minutes later that Chris Adam was close to converting.
Mark Ward put a 75th minute free kick over the cross bar and although the Nailers had played much better in the second period they had yet to seriously trouble the Kings Lynn ‘keeper.
Belper manager Peter Duffield was sent from the technical area in the 85th minute after an altercation with the Kings Lynn bench and the game was played out to a tame finish as the Nailers now turn their attention to Monday’s game at home to Stamford.
Belper Town: Ratcliffe, Wright, Rushbury, Graves, Roulston, Simpkins, Adam (Harrison 66), Leonard, Ward, Thomas (Godber 86), Vickers (Owen 71) Unused sub: Cotton, Tuton.
Kings Lynn Town: Gay, Watson, Yong (Lee 80), Fryatt, Gulliver, Jepson, Spriggs (Butt 53) Thompson (Stocker 65), Beaumont, Tolley, Mulready. Unused subs: Dunkley.
Referee: Thomas Harty (Wolverhampton)
Match Sponsors: Browns Builders Merchants
Man of the Match: Eric Graves