Evo-Stik NPL League
First Division South
Sutton Coldfield Town 2
Belper Town 0
THIS was a much improved Belper Town display against one of the early season pacesetters, but two second half goals consigned the Nailers to a fourth league defeat leaving them rooted in the bottom half of the league table and brought the end of the road for manager Tommy Taylor.
Former Matlock Town player midfielder Steve Warne went straight into the starting line up while Jaylee Hodgson, signed from Hinckley Town in midweek was included on the substitute’s bench.
Sutton Coldfield had started the week on top of the table and it was easy too see why they had made a 100% start to their home programme on their newly installed artificial pitch.
The Royals are a big no nonsense outfit with plenty of skill and strength and it was a tough opening 15 minutes for the Nailers who had to defend in numbers as the home team came at them from the off.
Belper’s new defensive formation saw skipper Mark Camm play a sweeper’s role which gave the Nailers a more solid look at the back and worked well until they were undone in the 64th minute by a controversial goal.
However, Andy Richmond, who had an excellent game after regaining his place from Tom Turner was in action almost immediately when he had to touch over a Craig Marshall effort from close in as Sutton pushed forward from the whistle.
James Reid snapped up a loose ball in the 7th minute and thumped a tremendous effort on to the cross bar, and almost before the woodwork had stopped shaking Reid blasted a presentable opportunity over the top from six yards.
Matt Dodd sent over a dangerous cross into the six-yard area that somehow emerged fizzed through a group of players, and up until this point the Royals had enjoyed nearly all of the possession.
Eventually the Nailers began to encroach more into the Sutton half and in the 17th minute Steve Warne worked his way into a position to send over a cross that Lee Morris only just failed to reach with his head.
Gradually the Nailers came into the game and it ceased to be one way traffic.
Steve Warne put over another good cross in the 34th minute that Alan O’Hare headed just wide, and then Belper’s best move of the half came just before the break when some good one touch play ended with a Warne drive just wide of the upright.
Boosted by an encouraging end to the first period, rejuvenated Nailers came out in positive mood after the break.
Almost immediately, Joaquin Ortuno’s corner kick was met with a firm header from Deon Meikle but Jon Jones was well placed on the goal line to head the ball away.
Moments later Aaron Pride’s overlapping run resulted in a teasing cross into the danger area but unfortunately there wasn’t a Belper player to take advantage.
Jon Froggatt, who was enjoying arguably his best game of the season, did really well to get the ball over but Lee Morris’ header took a deflection for a corner kick.
This was a good spell for Belper who looked the more likely of the two sides to score the opening goal.
Matt Plant had just headed an Andy Rushbury cross wide on 61 minute, before the recently introduced Jaylee Hodgson had the best opportunity of the game for Belper.
Deon Meikle supplied the pass that put Hodgson through but although he struck his shot well enough, the Royals’ ‘keeper managed to get himself in the firing line and the ball bounced away to safety.
Unfortunately, despite a rousing 20 minutes of the second half, the Nailers were soon to be behind when Craig Marshall expertly lobbed the onrushing Andy Richmond in the 64th minute despite looking to be offside when he received the ball.
Jon Froggatt nearly equalised 4 minutes later after some clever footwork created an opening but he sent a soft shot straight at Nial Cooper.
The Royals began to get the upper hand in the closing stages but Andy Richmond kept them at bay with some excellent saves especially from James Reid in the 72nd minute, and again from Ben Bailey a minute later.
Craig Marshall was stunned to see Richmond palm away his 76th minute volley from 15 yards, but on 80 minutes the Royals confirmed the destination of the points when Marshall tapped the ball in after Richmond had beaten away Reid’s initial angled shot.
Sutton Coldfield Town: Cooper, Bailey, Richards-Everton, Jones, Costello, Miller, Dodd, McNaught, Marshall, Reid (Fuller 80), Evans (Rathbone 58). Unused subs: Booth, Milner, Ling.
Belper Town: Richmond, Pride, Magee, Camm, Plant (Spargo 77), O’Hare, Warne, Meikle, Froggatt, Morris (Hodgson 55), Ortuno (Rushbury 55). Unused subs: Adams, Turner.
Referee: M Bingham (Leamington Spa)