First Division South
Belper Town 1
Rainworth MW 0
BELPER Town’s season was finally underway after this narrow but decisive victory against previously unbeaten Rainworth Miners’ Welfare.
Manager Tommy Taylor made just one change from the team that earned a first league point against Brigg Town last Tuesday with Tommy Hannigan coming in instead of Alan O’Hare who was on holiday.
Rainworth arrived at Christchurch Meadow top of a very early league table after having won both of their opening fixtures, and included in their line up were former Belper players Steve Kennedy and Joe Carter.
After a pedestrian start to the game Gavin Saxby almost let slip a sixth minute Jon Froggatt free kick but just managed to reclaim it before Lee Morris could get to the ball, and the Nailers had made a positive start against a team who were confident after their unbeaten start.
Matt Plant met an 11th minute corner kick with a powerful header but the ball was deflected off its target by Steve Kennedy for another corner kick.
Jon Froggatt did well to get an early ball over in the 16th minute and only a well timed intervention from Joe Carter prevented Ruben Wiggins-Thomas putting the ball in.
Mark Camm tried a volley from just outside the area on 19 minutes but was well off target, and at this stage the game had turned a little scrappy with neither side being able to stamp their authority.
The Nailers nearly found away through in the 26th minute and some good passing and a cross from Damien Magee ended with Ruben Wiggins- Thomas putting a header straight at Saxby.
Moments later Lee Morris sent over a low cross from the bye line but Rainworth got bodies in the way and cleared their lines.
Joe Ward hit a hopeful effort well off target from 30 yards in the 30th minute, and with the game desperate for an injection of excitement Jamie Smith picked out Ruben Wiggins-Thomas with a 30 yard pass and the Belper striker fired a good shot just over the bar.
Lee Morris had the ball taken off his toe in the 35th minute after it ricocheted into his path then moments later he saw his header from a Deon Meikle flick on saved at point blank range by Saxby.
A well struck free kick from Wiggins-Thomas took a decisive deflection of Chris Timons on 39 minutes and as half time approached the Nailers had probably done enough to have deserved a half-time lead although the visitors were by no means anonymous.
The Nailers suffered an early scare right at the start of the first half when they were caught by a long ball to Lavell White who nearly took full advantage of a hesitation by Andy Richmond, but thankfully he put his shot wide of the far post.
It was the visitors who started the second half the stronger and Belper found themselves on the back foot in the early stages.
Jon Froggatt’s persistence set up an opportunity for Deon Meikle in the 55th minute, but the he wasted the opening with a lazy shot well wide of the target.
Jamie Smith made way for Andy Rushbury and within moments supporters were on their feet when Jon Froggatt’s superb speculative volley struck the angle from fully 25 yards.
It was hoped that Froggatt’s effort would spark the Nailers into renewed efforts as the visitor’s had controlled much of the opening 20 minutes of the second period.
The Nailers were denied a certain penalty kick when Lee Morris was clearly pushed as he ran in to meet Deon Meikle’s 69th minute cross into the area, but the referee wasn’t interested.
Rainworth were showing considerable resistance to everything the Nailers tried and as the half wore on, the more frustrating it became.
Aaron Pride made his first appearance of the season as he replaced Ruben Wiggins-Thomas with 10 minutes to go, but Rainworth always seemed to have the measure of Belper whilst looking threatening at the same time.
Then out of the blue the Nailers took the lead in dramatic fashion in the 86th minute when Andy Rushbury received the ball just outside the penalty area and picked his spot with a beautifully struck effort that simply flew into the net.
Belper had to negotiate an awkward extra five minutes of additional time but did so successfully to record manager Tommy Taylor’s first league win since taking over during the close season.
Belper Town: Richmond, Adams, Magee, Camm, Plant, Hannigan, Wiggins-Thomas (Pride 62), Meikle, Froggatt, Smith (Rushbury 62), Morris. Unused subs: Ortuno, Thorpe, Spargo.
Rainworth MW: Saxby, Fearon. Carter, Timons, Kennedy, Clarke, Zuerner (Gee-Pemberton 74), Ward, Mitchell (Francis 66), White, Hanson. Unused subs: Mayman, Briggs, Wood.
Referee: Howard Rowbotham (Mansfield)
Next in action
Saturday, August 27 - Romulus v Belper Town, 3pm.
Monday, August 29 - Belper Town v Ilkeston FC, 3pm.