Nailers repeat recovery act to secure replay
By David Laughlin
Belper Town performed a now familiar rescue act after going two goals down to force a replay against Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division leaders Leamington FC.
Ashley Longstaff heads in Belper's equalising goal (Photo: Tim Harrison)
The Nailers gave a debut to loan signing Andrew Siribour who joined the club from Ilkeston FC last week and it was Jordan Ball who made way and was named as a substitute.
Otherwise the starting line was similar to the one that was involved in the two FA Cup games against Ilkeston.
The visitors arrived at Christchurch meadow undefeated in league competition and sat top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier League, although they had lost their last game away to Corby Town in the FA Cup.
Belper started the game well and pressed Leamington back into their own third of the field and forced the Brakes into some hasty defending.
Eventually possession became a little more even as Leamington settled into the game and in the 13th minute there was the first sign of danger when Lee Chilton burst through hit a low shot just wide of the target.
The Nailers were awarded a penalty kick in 22nd minute after Andrew Siribour was tripped by Richard Batchelor but Colin Marrison hit a poor spot kick and Kevin Sawyer guessed right to make the save.
Almost immediately Leamington counter attacked and Aaron Chapman appeared to miss the cross put in by Lee Moore and as the ball trickled along the line Richard Adams made a vital clearance to keep the scores level.
Karl Colley had a great chance to put Belper ahead in the 32nd minute after the Nailers had broken clear and the ball broke to him with time to compose himself, but he completely miskicked and the opportunity was lost.
The Nailers went a goal down in the 36th minute when they were caught cold by a long pass out of defence that dropped over Karl Colley and Tom Berwick ran clear to lob the ball over the advancing Aaron Chapman who slipped at the wrong moment, and could do nothing to prevent him scoring.
The Nailers went further behind in the 44th minute when Stephan Morley drilled a left foot shot just inside the far corner from fully 25 yards leaving Belper players and supporters wondering how on earth it could have gone in.
Ashley Longstaff hit a half volley just over the bar after 2 minutes of the second period and the Nailers had much to do if they were going to turn this game around.
Simon Harrison did well to create an opportunity for Ashley Longstaff but the Belper striker curled his shot disappointingly wide, then Tom Berwick looked offside when he ran through moments later but after checking back he put his shot too near Aaron Chapman,
Then Andy Rushbury messed up in the 57th minute and Chapman did well to save from Tom Berwick, but Belper reduced the arrears out of the blue when Andrew Siribour slipped through to score past Kevin Sawyer on 58 minutes.
Soon after the restart Chapman made a great stop to deny Matt Dodd and the tie had become very open with both defences looking vulnerable to the break.
Ashley Longstaff spurned another good chance in the 64th minute when he got on the end of a Simon Harrison cross but he couldn’t keep his header down which was a let off for the visitors.
The Nailers were right back in the game on 70 minutes when Ashley Longstaff initially headed a Simon Harrison cross against the crossbar then nodded the rebound back and over the line with the assistance of a Leamington defender.
Simon Harrison couldn’t finish strongly enough in the 75th minute after Kevin Sawyer failed to hold a routine cross and the tie was wide open now with both sides looking capable of winning the game.
Tensions began to increase and the referee found it necessary to show a number of yellow cards to calm things down.
Ricky Johnson provided a heart-stopping moment in added-on time with a header that just cleared the cross bar and with neither side finding a winner, a replay will be required to decide which club goes through to the next round.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride (Rushbury 52), Wright, Marrison, Adams, Colley, Harrison, Warne, Longstaff (Ward 84), Siribour (Ball 81), Mallon. Unused subs: Simpkins, Ratcliffe
Leamington: Sawyer, Mace, Morley, Magunda, Hood, Daly, Dodd (Taylor 78), Chilton (Husband 84), Berwick (Johnson 71), Moore, Batchelor. Unused subs: Adkins, Quirke.
Belper Town: Andrew Siribour 58, Ashley Longstaff 70
Leamington: Tom Berwick 36, Stephan Morley 44
Referee: Steven Meredith (Mansfield)
Match Sponsors: The Grapes Inn
Man of the Match: Ashley Longstaff