Four-goal Nailers maintain winning run
Belper Town strengthened their place in the play-off positions after another dominating performance against a Rainworth side reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of player/manager, Scott Rickards
Colin Marrison's header squeezes past James Martin to give the Nailers the lead (Photo: Tim Harrison)
The Nailers were forced into their first change to their opening line-up in the last five games after Dan White was ruled out with an ankle knock.
Chris Jones reverted into a central defensive partnership with Phil Watt whilst Aaron Pride came into the side at right fullback following his own recent injury worries.
Former Nailers striker, Ashley Longstaff led the front line for the Wrens.
In common with all senior football matches across the country, a minute’s silence was observed at 3.06pm in memory of the Liverpool supporters who perished in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago, with the match kicking off one minute later.
The Nailers could have been ahead in sensational style in the opening minute when Kieran Wells volleyed Aaron Cole’s free kick towards the top corner but James Martin reacted superbly to touch the ball over the bar.
Steve Warne then headed the ball narrowly wide after Martin’s weak punch fell invitingly for the Belper skipper as the Nailers began the game strongly.
Rainworth began to settle into the game with the diminutive Jack Hawkins posing a threat with his nimble footwork and his eagerness to shoot whenever the opportunity arose.
His angled volley from 18 yards wasn’t too far from dropping over Nailers ‘keeper Scott Low as the Wrens mounted their first purposeful foray into the Nailers defensive third.
But it was Belper who were asking most of the questions in the early stages with a couple of dangerous crosses requiring James Martin to cut out the danger as Colin Marrison and Aaron Cole both tested the home ‘keeper with close range headers.
Scott Rickards briefly threatened at the other end but his driven free kick clattered against the defensive wall, which took the steam out of the effort, and Low was untroubled as the ball made its weary way into his grasp.
Cole then earned himself an ear bashing from his team mates when he chose to shoot from the edge of the area when a couple of Belper forwards were well positioned inside the area to take advantage of a cross that never materialised.
Although there is not much of him, Hawkins was looking the liveliest of the Rainworth attacking force and twice he let fly with purposeful shots but, on both occasions, the ball drifted past the far post from good positions.
The major talking point of the half came on 38 minutes when Rainworth player/manager Scott Rickards was dismissed for violent conduct, following a clash with Colin Marrison.
The two protagonists had been involved in a spat between them a few minutes earlier and the Wrens manager was clearly still playing with a red mist descending over him.
Half time arrived with the score line still goalless but Rainworth’s hopes took a blow early after the restart when Ashley Longstaff limped off with a hamstring injury, thus diminishing the Wren’s already impotent strike force.
This, together with the introduction of substitute Simon Harrison, allowed the Nailers to gain control of the match and to start to increase the pressure on the Rainworth back line.
A Nailers goal seemed to be an increasing inevitability and it almost arrived after 63 minutes when Jon Froggatt burst through the home defence but he shot hurriedly and skewed his effort just wide of the target.
But just three minutes later the breakthrough arrived when Colin Marrison headed in at the far post from an Aaron Cole cross, with goalkeeper Martin making a valiant effort to try to prevent the ball from squeezing inside the post.
Simon Harrison fizzed a powerful shot just over the angle and Phil Watt will still be asking himself how he failed to convert a close range effort at the far post following another teasing flag kick from Cole.
But the lead was doubled after 71 minutes when Colin Marrison cleverly set up James Cullingworth to step inside a defender before shooting powerfully and low into the far corner and put the game beyond the hosts.
Jon Froggatt tapped in Belper’s third goal from close range after 82 minutes after Martin could only parry Chris Jones’ header, with the accuracy of Aaron Cole’s corner kicks continuing create mayhem in the Wrens defence.
Rainworth responded immediately when the Nailers made a hash of their defensive duties, allowing the well-travelled Tristan Whitman to hammer the ball into the net, with Scott Low waving as it passed him by.
Belper added a fourth goal on the 90 minute mark when Froggatt played in substitute Sam Duncum, who cut inside the box and drove the ball under the beleaguered Martin and put the icing on the cake for the Nailers.
Rainworth MW: Martin, Edridge, Williams, Lloyd, Shaw, Dudley, Bowles, Rickards, Longstaff (Coupe 47), Hawkins, Whitman. Other Sub: Rogers.
Belper Town: Low, Pride (Harrison 56), Cullingworth, Davies (Duncum 75), Watt, Jones, Cole, Warne, Froggatt, Wells (Ward 61), Marrison. Other Subs: Davis, Godber
Referee: Paul Thompson (Chesterfield)