Belper Town claimed their third successive league victory for only the second time this campaign, when they beat Leek Town at Christchurch Meadow on Saturday.
The result means they now sit fourth in the league table, just one point behind Leek.
A penalty from Jon Froggatt proved the difference on the day, with the Nailers keeping their first clean sheet of the calendar year. League leaders Halesowen Town now sit only six points ahead of Belper as the Nailers set their sights firmly towards the summit of the table.
The game’s man of the match was Dave Ratcliffe, the Nailers’ stopper, and he insists praise should not be heaped on his performance alone, but on the workrate of the whole team.
“The lads in front of me made sure Leek were limited to few chances, and on the few occasions they got through, I just did my job by saving any shots they had.”
He continued: “As a group, it’s really starting to come together now and we’re looking strong towards the close of the season.”
The thoughts of Ratcliffe were echoed by playmaker Gareth Davies as he believes his side fears nobody. “Halesowen will be worrying about us now as we’re going for that top spot, and we still play them twice yet so that’ll make for a testing end to the season, but we’re very much looking forward to that.”
Nailers’ manager Peter Duffield was keen to praise the consistency of his side, but remains cautious in his approach to celebrating the victory. “I thought it was a good match. When two top teams face each other, it’s always going to be a game of few chances. Fortunately we got the penalty and Jon has stuck it away well which was terrific. It wasn’t just a run of the mill penalty, it was a real pressure penalty.” He noted, “It’s the business end of the season now, and although it’s a great result for us, it’s only three points, we haven’t won anything yet.” “Scarborough will be another difficult game next Saturday, and we need to play with the same work rate we did against Leek to stand any chance. But I was extremely pleased with the team this week, and it’s the first time in a wee while that we’ve played the same back five and they were all brilliant.”
He concluded “This is a very happy squad at the minute, with good quality throughout, and everyone is working for each other. The midfield are keeping their shape well, and the two boys up front are forming a good partnership, and Kieran is doing well when he comes off the bench, and his chance will come soon to get a run in the side from the start.”
Jon Froggatt’s goal keeps him firmly at the top of the leagues goal scoring chart with 25 this season, four ahead of second place Jordan Johnson for the blues, who was denied any opportunity to hit the target by the Nailers this weekend.
Belper’s next fixture comes this Saturday, away to Scarborough Athletic with a 3pm kick off. Their next home game is on Tuesday, February 11, against Loughborough Dynamo with a 7.45pm kick off.