A stirring second-half fightback by the Nailers

Ashley Longstaff makes it 2-2 for Belper against Leamington Town fc
Ashley Longstaff makes it 2-2 for Belper against Leamington Town fc

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.

The Nailers gave a debut to loan signing Andrew Siribour, who joined from Ilkeston FC last week, and it was Jordan Ball who made way.

Otherwise the starting lineup was similar to the one involved in the two FA Cup games against Ilkeston. The visitors arrived at Christchurch 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 well, forcing the Brakes into some hasty defending. Eventually, possession became a little more even as Leamington settled and in the 13th minute there was danger when Lee Chilton burst through and hit a low shot just wide.

The Nailers were awarded a penalty kick in the 22nd minute after Siribour was tripped by Richard Batchelor, but Colin Marrison’s spotkick was saved by Kevin Sawyer.

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 and the ball broke to him with time to compose himself, but he miskicked and the opportunity was lost.

The Nailers went a goal down in the 36th minute when a long pass out of defence dropped over Karl Colley, and Tom Berwick ran clear to lob the ball over Aaron Chapman.

The Nailers went further behind in the 44th minute when Stephan Morley drilled a shot just inside the far corner from 25 yards.

Ashley Longstaff hit a half volley just over the bar after two 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 Longstaff but the Belper striker curled wide, then Tom Berwick looked offside when he ran through moments later but after checking back he put his shot too near Chapman,

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.

The Nailers were right back in the game on 70 minutes when Longstaff initially headed a Simon Harrison cross against the post, then nodded the rebound over the line.

Ricky Johnson provided a heart stopping moment in added-on time with a header that just cleared the crossbar.

Belper Town: Chapman, Pride (Rushbury 52), Wright, Marrison, Adams, Colley, Harrison, Warne, Longstaff (Ward 84), Siribour (Ball 81), Mallon. Unused subs: Simpkins, Ratcliffe.

Leamington FC: Sawyer, Mace, Morley, Magunda, Hood, Daly, Dodd (Johnson 71), Chilton (Husband 84), Berwick (Johnson 71), Moore, and Batchelor. Unused subs: Adkins, Quirke.

Referee: Steven Meredith (Mansfield)

Att: 228

Match Sponsor: The Grapes Inn (Belper)

Man of the Match: Simon Harrison