Nailers secure play-off spot
The Nailers secured their place in the play-offs in tremendous style at Christchurch Meadow, writes Joe Malone.
Kieran Wells celebrates his opening goal (Photo: Tim Harrison)
A brilliant performance, resulting in a comprehensive three-goal victory, gave the home fans much to cheer about, on a night of pure anticipation.
Once again, manager Peter Duffield fielded the same side and saw his team win for the fifth successive game and pull away from close rivals Mickleover Sports.
The game began with a rather slower tempo than in recent Nailers performances; however Aaron Cole came close on five minutes with a free kick that hit the side netting.
Belper had a goal disallowed on the 15th minute after Chris Jones’ throw-in was launched into the area. Several bodies went up to attack the ball which fell into the goal, only for the referee to award a foul on the goalkeeper.
The Nailers continued to press, with Colin Marrison and Kieran Wells (pictured) coming close from inside the box, and Loughborough earned a rare chance from a free kick which was hit straight at keeper Scott Low by Dean Gent.
Patience paid off for the home side as the Nailers took the lead on the 39th minute in fine style.
Phil Watt drilled the ball forward with pinpoint accuracy towards Kieran Wells who had timed his run to perfection to stay onside.
Wells then closed in on the goalkeeper and after his initial effort was saved well by Kahil Mann-Kler at the near post, Wells got a second bite at the cherry and slotted in from a tight angle.
A key feature for the Nailers in recent games has been the ‘London buses’, waiting patiently for a goal, then to score twice in quick succession.
On a night when luck was to go their way, Belper scored their second just six minutes later when a slice of good fortune fell their way when Lee Attenborough’s clearance was blocked by the back of Steve Warne to fall perfectly for Jon Froggatt who was clearly standing in an offside position.
Froggatt made the most of the gift and unselfishly squared the pass to Kieran Wells inside the box, who smashed the ball into the back of the net and double his tally for the night.
The second half then saw more expansive football for a now confident Nailers side.
Kieran Wells should have had his hat-trick early on after a through ball by Froggatt had seen him one on one with the goalkeeper, only to overplay his final touch and allow substitute goalkeeper Alex Pycock to smother the ball.
Moments later, Wells received the ball on the edge of the box and laid the ball off to Aaron Cole who fired the ball towards goal, only to see his effort crash against the cross bar with the keeper well beaten.
Substitute Simon Harrison then came on the field to make an immediate impact by winning his side a penalty. His trickery inside the box teased former Nailers youngster, Joe Pheasant who tripped the Belper substitute as Harrison glided past him.
Jon Froggatt placed the ball in his usual confident manner, and smashed the ball into the r left corner to score his 32nd goal of the season and give his side a three-goal lead in the 57th minute.
With the game wrapped up, there were further chances for Phil Watt, Aaron Cole and Jon Froggatt who all hit the target, whilst Scott Low was called to action to make three big saves late on to ensure his side kept another clean sheet.
Belper Town: Scott Low, Chris Jones, James Cullingworth, Gareth Davies, Phil Watt, Dan White (Sam Duncum 78), Aaron Cole, Steve Warne, Jon Froggatt (Mark Ward 77), Kieran Wells, Colin Marrison (Simon Harrison 78). Subs: Liam Davis, Dave Ratcliffe.
Loughborough Dynamo: Kahill Mann-Klier (Alex Pycock 45), Joe Pheasant, Dean Gent (Luke Blakeley 72), Lee Attenborough, Jake Betts, Mitch Williams, Luke Smithson, Steve Towers, Matt Langham, Jarrod Westcarr (Nathan Watson 64), Rob Norris. Subs: Adam Parkinson, Lee Morris.
Referee: Harry Hawkins (Sutton in Ashfield)