Evo-Stik League NPL
First Division South
Leek Town 0, Belper Town 3
BELPER Town’s victory over Leek Town was arguably the best performance seen from Peter Duffield’s side since he took over as manager last September.
This was the perfect away performance achieved against a good side on an uncompromising pitch, and if this was a taste of things to come then the future looks very exciting indeed for the Nailers.
Belper pulled a surprise by signing goalkeeper Adam Chapman and putting him straight into side in place of Gavin Saxby who was named as a substitute, while striker Mark Ward was given his first start since signing from Stocksbridge a couple of weeks ago.
Ashley Longstaff was the player who lost out as a result of Ward’s selection and while Andy Rushbury was recalled in place of Alton Rennalls, Deon Meikle was left out of the squad altogether.
On paper this was a tough test for the Nailers who were facing a Leek side who had been going well over the past three months, but Belper looked up for it straight from the whistle and produced a display in stark contrast to their laboured performance seven days earlier.
But it was Adam Chapman who had to save the game’s first shot in the opening minute when Ben Nixon volleyed in from 18 yards, and the former Goole ‘keeper grasped the ball with a confidence that epitomised his display.
However, Belper got to grips with the game very quickly and stamped their authority in all areas of the field, and proceeded to surprise their opponents who would have undoubtedly have been expecting things to have gone their way.
Mark Ward opened his account for the Nailers in the ninth minute when he nodded in a near post header after some good wing play and a pinpoint cross from Chris Adam
Belper looked impressive going forward in these early stages and Chris Adam nearly crowned a good move with a volley just over the cross bar, however Mark Ward and Charlie Weir should be credited with creating the opportunity.
Leek were struggling to get a foothold in the game and in the 25th minute they fell further behind when Belper’s man of the match Glyn Cotton controlled the ball 3 yards outside the penalty area, and beat Joe McCormack with a delightful shot just inside the far post.
Leek tried to respond in the latter stages of the half but caused few problems for the Belper defence in which skipper Dan White was dominant.
Anything that did slip through, and in particular crosses and corners, were immaculately dealt with by Adam Chapman who looks a tremendous prospect on the evidence of this debut display by the youngster.
A competitive and entertaining first half was marred by a double sending off in the 37th minute when the over zealous referee saw fit to dismiss former Nailer Anthony Danylyk and Chris Adam for an innocuous confrontation that barely deserved a yellow card let alone a red for each of them.
The Nailers didn’t let Leek boss them after the break, and the home side became increasingly frustrated at their lack of progress as Belper didn’t let them gain any sort of momentum.
In fact Belper poured forward from the whistle and Mark Ward’s delicate touch gave Jon Froggatt a shooting opportunity that he put just wide of the target in the 49th minute, then soon afterwards the ball broke kindly for Ward who, with only the ‘keeper to beat, struck out wildly and sent the ball well wide.
The Nailers continued to battle in all areas of the pitch restricting the home side to sporadic attacks, but in the 73rd minute Tim Sanders ran the full length of the pitch to receive a cross field pass, cut inside and forced Adam Chapman in a brilliant one handed save to deny Leek a lifeline.
But it was all over in the 82nd minute when Jon Froggatt’s cross shot eluded everyone to rest in just inside the far post and knock what spirit the Leek side had left, out of them altogether.
Belper finished the game strongly and might have gone further ahead as the Leek defence tired visibly, and in the end they thoroughly deserved their victory after a virtually complete, all-round performance.
Leek Town: McCormack, Sanders, Bullock, Edwards (Millar 45), Mellor, Ray, Grice (Cope 76), Nixon, Haddrell (Turner 88), Danylyk, Wooliscroft.
Unused substitute: Bridge.
Belper Town: Chapman, Wright, Weir (Simpkin 74), Cotton, Adams, White, Rushbury (Leonard 71), Warne, Froggatt, Ward (Longstaff 77), Adam. Unused substitutes: Rennalls, Saxby.
Referee: Stuart Eagland (Lichfield)
Attendance: 294. Man of the match: Glyn Cotton
Next in action
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Evo-Stik League NPL
First Division South
BELPER TOWN v Market Drayton Town, 3pm.