FA Carlsberg Trophy
First Qualifying Round
Barton Rovers 0
Belper Town 1
BELPER Town navigated their way safely through to the second qualifying round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy, but their victory in Bedfordshire was just about the only memorable aspect of this untidy match.
To be fair, the prevailing conditions were far from encouraging. A hard, bumpy surface, a brisk cross wind and two teams nervously sparring for supremacy were the ingredients for a cup tie that was far from easy on the eye.
The Nailers included new midfield signing, Ben Leonard on the bench whilst Deon Meikle filled the midfield role vacated by Steve Warne’s loan recall to parent club, Matlock Town.
In similar vein to the Nailers, Barton Rovers had experienced an indifferent start to the season but both clubs have improved dramatically in recent weeks and both camps were therefore optimistic about making further progress in the competition.
Unseasonal Autumnal sunshine greeted the teams on to the Bedfordshire turf but it was Belper who forced the early pace.
Andy Rushbury hooked the ball over the top from the corner of the area and then moments later Ryan Hindley went even closer, skimming the crossbar with a shot from 18 yards after Jon Froggatt had headed the ball into his path.
It wasn’t long before Rovers began to show their teeth as Russell Bull forced Andy Richmond into a smart save to keep out his angled shot from 12 yards.
But, to be brutally honest, the uneven pitch was proving to be a difficult proposition for both sets of players with passing and movement just about impossible on the unreliable surface. As a spectacle, the game was just about as dire as it could be.
Bull was again too high with his shot after Richard Adams misjudged an angled cross into the danger area before the Nailers struck the decisive blow after 37 minutes
Lee Morris headed the ball on to Ryan Hindley, who clipped the ball over the advancing ‘keeper and Jon Froggatt made certain by nicking the ball just inside the post from close range.
The Nailers conceded a couple of dangerous free kicks as the half drew towards a close and, on one occasion, Alan O’Hare did superbly well to get his body in the way of a goal-bound effort from Bobby Dance.
If fluent football was at a premium in the first half, then it was just about non-existent after the interval.
There were confident shouts for a penalty after Ryan Hindley went down under challenge in the penalty area but the referee was perfectly positioned to turn down the appeals from the Belper players.
Rovers were now having the greater share of possession without creating too much in the way of chances.
But, it was Belper who went closest to scoring again when home goalkeeper Richard Wilmot got a hand to Jon Froggatt’s low goal-bound shot, only to see the ball squirm agonisingly past the far post.
Andy Richmond then came to Belper’s rescue with a superb save to keep out Barton’s Sam Spencer but, at the other end, Andy Rushbury was unfortunate to see his shot deflected wide after the Nailers caught out the hosts with a swift counter attack.
Then, Lee Morris almost put the icing on the cake with an injury time volley that fizzed just wide of the target as the Nailers comfortably saw out the match to claim another rare victory in this competition.
Barton Rovers: Wilmot, Vaughan, Smeaton (Bagarone 69), Hull, Andrews, McDevitt, Spencer (Payne 86), Dance, Bull (Parkinson 76), Case. Unused subs: Kierans, Iwediuno.
Belper Town: Richmond, Pride, Magee, Meikle, Adams, O’Hare, Hindley (Leonard 63), Marrison, Froggatt, Morris, Rushbury (Whittington 81). Unused subs: Chambers, Graham, Turner
Referee: Colin Reeve (Huntingdon)
Next in action
Saturday, October 29
Evo-Stik League First Division South - Belper Town v Hucknall Town, 3pm.
Tuesday, November 1
Evo-Stik League First Division South - Belper Town v Leek Town, 7.45pm.