by Joe Malone
Evo-Stik Division 1 South
Belper Town 2
Sheffield FC 0
A less than spectacular game was crowned by a more than spectacular finish from the Nailers very own number nine on Boxing Day.
Jon Froggatt netted an 88th minute winner worthy of any superlative that may come to mind.
Manager Peter Duffield had no further injury issues and welcomed back Froggatt to the forward line, with that his only change to the team that drew away at Market Drayton.
It was Sheffield who had the better chances in the first half throughout this low tempo affair, the first coming on the fifth minute when Andrew Gascoigne struck a central free kick from 22 yards, left footed and low to the ‘keeper’s right, which was parried away well by Dave Ratcliffe.
There was a further scare for Belper on the 23rd minute as the ball broke down the right hand side for Sheffield and Richard Stirrup sent a low drilled ball across the box for Mark Fereday who mis-hit his shot. The ball then continued to the back post for James Gregory who got his shot away, only for Ratcliffe to be equal to it.
The Nailers first chance of any note came on the 27th minute when Chris Adam found room in the box and fired a first time drive two yards over the bar from the left hand side.
Sheffield then missed a gilt-edged chance to take the lead three minutes later when a shot on the edge by Gascoigne fell kindly for Fereday whose measured shot towards the left hand corner could only find its way onto the post and out, much to the Nailers delight.
Belper then produced a neat move on the 34th minute with one touch interplay on the edge of Sheffield’s box. It was Steve Warne’s pass to Mark Ward, returned to Warne, who slipped Adam in on the left and his low drive across the face of the goal couldn’t quite reach the toe of Mark Ward, for what could have been a very fine goal.
The second half then continued in the same fashion, with Sheffield producing more chances but failing to convert. The first came for Fereday who was played in on the right, but Ratcliffe spread himself well to make the save.
Further chances for Gascoigne came as his half volley from the left of the area was brilliantly saved onto the bar and over by Ratcliffe. Cameron Stuart then had a free kick tipped onto the bar for the Nailers later on in the 80th minute, and the resulting corner led to a clearance to the edge, for Stuart to chest and volley in a central position, only to get his foot under the ball and loop it five yards over the top.
Just when the game looked to be a typical stalemate on this cold and dark Boxing Day, Jon Froggatt got his Christmas wish when he fired in a goal on the 88th minute that even the likes of Luis Suarez would have to pinch himself for.
The ball came for Froggatt on the left in the area in two yards of space, and when many thought Froggatt would take a touch, set himself and shoot, he adjusted his figure and swung his left boot first time to connect with the outside of his foot and drill the ball into the far top corner, beating even the best efforts of Robert Poulter who threw himself towards the ball but couldn’t keep out what was a goal of the season contender.
Belper then got their second goal deep into injury time when substitute Kieran Wells latched onto a loose back header by Brandon Cardwell and rounded the goalkeeper only to be fouled by Poulter who then saw a straight red and give away a free kick of the edge of the area.
Cardwell then stepped in goal for the final minute, and a Jon Froggatt free kick was sent into the bottom left corner, well beyond the static ‘keeper, to round off a perfect 90 minutes for the number 9.
Belper Town: Dave Ratcliffe, Chris Jones, Cameron Stuart, Gareth Davies (Colin Marrison 59), Shaun Roulston, Dan White, Simon Harrison, Steve Warne, Jon Froggatt, Mark Ward (Kieran Wells 59), Chris Adam. Subs: Scot Low, Sam Duncum, Luke Beatson.
Referee: James Thornhill (Ilkeston)
The Nailers are pictured celebrating their win over Sheffield FC (Photo by Tim Harrison)