Evo-Stik League NPL Division One South
Belper Town 1
Leek Town 1
by Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town came from behind to record their fourth draw in five games and are still looking for an elusive first win of the season.
Manager Peter Duffield rang the changes for this home fixture against Leek Town with Colin Marrison and Ben Leonard named as substitutes while Richard Stirrup and Andy Rushbury were in the starting line up.
Richard Adams was on holiday so Dan White came in after recovering from injury while new signing Shaun Roulston from Coalville Town wasn’t named in the squad.
Both sides had made disappointing starts to the season and at kick off the Nailers were one of only four teams in the division without a win.
Leek missed a great chance to score after just one minute when Karl Charlton fired wide of the far post with only Aaron Chapman to beat, although Andy Rushbury wasn’t too far away with a toe poke effort from 6 yards moments later.
Rushbury went close again in the 8th minute with a solo run and shot that flew just past the far post and the Nailers had made a promising start to the game.
Cameron Ringstead had to scramble to claim the ball in the 13th minute after Dan White nodded back a Simon Harrison corner kick, and just afterwards Harrison just failed to make contact with a half chance that came to him inside the six yard area.
The Nailers were passing the ball well at this stage of the half and were causing the visitors to defend in numbers, and in the 25th minute Simon Harrison hit a great shot from 22 yards that Cameron Ringstead did well to save at full stretch.
After all the pressure Belper had imposed it was Leek who nearly broke away to score on 34 minutes but Aaron Chapman was alert to the danger and came out quickly to deny Peter Wright.
Chapman pinched the ball off Matt Haddrell’s toe moments later as the visitors had a brief spell of pressure, then as the game calmed down a little, Aaron Pride went off on a run and struck a left foot effort over the top from 25 yards.
Leek defended a number of dangerous Simon Harrison corner kicks in the last minutes of the period but the Nailers couldn’t find a way through a well organised defence.
The second half resumed at a fast pace and a good run from Simon Harrison deserved a better finish but his cross went off a Belper player for a goal kick.
Ryan Mallon almost broke the deadlock in the 66th minute with a low drive from the edge of the penalty that was saved at full stretch by Cameron Ringstead, then Ashley Longstaff had a shot on the turn that the ‘keeper made a meal out of stopping, however there wasn’t a Belper player there to take advantage.
Peter Wright punctured a good spell for the Nailers with a shot off the top of the cross bar on 60 minutes and Matt Haddrell’s near post flick was denied by a tremendous reaction save from Aaron Chapman.
Leek Town took the lead on 62 minutes with another breakaway move and after Matt Haddrell helped the ball on to Peter Wright; he tucked the ball away just inside the far post with a crisp low shot.
Belper made a double substitution with Andy Rushbury and Ashley Longstaff making way for Mark Ward and Colin Marrison.
Ward went very close to getting an equaliser on 70 minutes with a free kick that flashed past the upright and Colin Marrison had the ball in the Leek net moments later but was ruled offside.
Simon Harrison provided the spark Belper so desperately needed when he floated a 73rd minute free kick into the far corner of the net from the corner of the penalty area for the equaliser.
Mark Ward nearly fooled Cameron Ringstead with an 80th minute free kick that ended up being a direct shot rather than a cross, but the ‘keeper did well to push the ball around the post anyway.
Jordan Ball should have done better with a dropping ball on the edge of the six yard area but put it over the bar, and the Nailers were trying everything they could to get a winner.
In the end neither side could find an opening in the latter stages and the Nailers, not for the first time this season, had come from behind to get a share of the points.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride, Wright, Stirrup, Colley, White, Harrison, Warne, Longstaff (Ward 66), Mallon (Ball 80), Rushbury (Marrison 66). Unused subs: Leonard, Ratcliffe.
Leek Town: Ringstead, Sanders, Bell, Smith, Melling, Hall, Wright P (Stevenson 88), Davidson, Haddrell (Grice 77), Charlton, Ruddock (Woolliscroft 87). Unused subs: Millar, Bridge.
Referee: Joe Clark (Walsall)
Match Sponsor: Alley Barbers
Man of the Match: Simon Harrison