Belper Town 2
Mickleover Sports 0
Belper Town overcame the handicap of losing Colin Marrison to a red card in the 39th minute and ran out comfortable winners against local rivals Mickleover Sports on Tuesday.
Manager Peter Duffield made one change from the side that beat Sheffield 5-1 on Boxing Day with hat-trick man Jon Froggatt starting ahead of Mark Ward, who was named as a substitute.
Eric Graves was making his home debut against his former club while new signings Matt Millns (Hucknall) and Chris Adam (Sheffield) were not involved in this New Year’s Day encounter.
After a quiet opening to the game, Eric Graves opened the scoring for Belper after only five minutes when he took Chris Wheatley by surprise with a shot from just inside the area and the ball flew just inside the post.
John Guy’s 13th minute free kick was well defended by Karl Colley, and Kieran O’Connell came close to leveling the scores when he forced a diving save from Aaron Chapman after Alex Steadman set up the opportunity.
The Nailers suffered a setback in the 20th minute when they lost Aaron Pride with a nasty looking ankle injury and, as a result, Greg Wright switched flanks and Andy Rushbury came on at left back.
Nick Wood was first to a corner in the 25th minute and Aaron Chapman was alert enough to dive on the ball close to the goalline, and Sports had enjoyed their fair share of possession since conceding the goal.
Darryl Thomas flicked a Greg Wright cross towards the near post and Chris Whiteley palmed the ball away for a corner kick in the 25th minute. However, Rob Ritchie -Smith wasn’t too far away in the 33rd minute with a shot that bobbled wide.
Moments later, Darryl Thomas spurned a great chance in the 35th minute after Jon Froggatt had put him clear but the Belper striker curled a wild shot wide of the target with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Colin Marrison received a red card following a high tackle on Mark Farthing in the 38th minute, and the Sports’ defender had to be stretchered off and was replaced by Joe Pheasant.
The Nailers had to re-organise and they would have to work hard in the second period to preserve their half-time lead.
Belper got a break in the 53rd minute when Chris Wheatley caught Jon Froggatt just outside the six-yard area following a three-man move that led up to the incident.
The referee awarded a penalty kick instantly and Jon Froggatt stepped up to score his fourth goal in two games and give the Nailers some much needed breathing space.
With Mickleover pushing forward, in the 66th minute Darryl Thomas ran on to a Karl Colley ball out of defence but his shot clipped the onrushing Chris Wheatley, who prevented the Nailers getting what would have been a decisive third goal.
The one-man advantage was beginning to work in Sports’ advantage as the half wore on and the visitors enjoyed more possession in the middle of the park.
Aaron Chapman came out to deny Rob Ritchie-Smith in the 75th minute when the Sports’ player looked set to run through and score, but Belper might have clinched the points when Richard Stirrup had an opportunity moments later. However, Chris Wheatley saved well at the foot of the post.
Jon Froggatt went close to making it three on 85 minutes when he took the ball off Kevin Grocott but couldn’t slip the ball past Chris Wheatley, who had covered the danger well.
Despite the opportunities Belper had to kill the game off, they had increasingly needed to defend deeper and deeper against Mickleover, who made their numerical advantage tell. However, the visitors had offered little direct threat to the Nailers’ goal and the points were never at risk.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride (Rushbury 20), Wright, Marrison, Roulston, Colley, Harrison (Stirrup 60), Warne, Froggatt, Thomas (Ward 77), Graves. Other subs: Adams, Ratcliffe.
Mickleover Sports: Whiteley, Allen, Chambers, Farthing (Pheasant 41), Wood, Grocott, Munn, Ritchie-Smith, Steadman, O’Connell, Guy. Other subs: Griffiths, Sturgess.
Referee: Nick Hopton (Derby)
Man of the Match: Shaun Roulston.
Match Sponsors: D & S Events
(PHOTO BY TIM HARRISON)