Coalville Town 1
Belper Town 1
Belper Town became just the second team this season to come away with a hard-earned point at league leaders Coalville Town, and might have collected all three if their finishing had been more clinical.
Manager Peter Duffield decided to leave Simon Harrison, Eric Graves and Shaun Tuton on the bench for this crucial away fixture, although Tuton had a late reprieve when Darryl Thomas had to pull out with injury at the last minute.
This was to be a contest of high intensity with no quarter given by either side, and despite Coalville’s seemingly unassailable position at the top of the league, the Nailers were equal to the Ravens in all area of the pitch.
Cameron Stuart was first to have an attempt on goal in the sixth minute but snatched at the opportunity from 12 yards out and the ball flew over the crossbar.
Richard Adams made a tremendous block in the 13th minute to prevent Lewis Dodd getting a shot in after Coalville had broken quickly with the long ball. However, it was the Nailers who struck first in the 19th minute when Glyn Cotton’s cleanly struck free-kick flew into the bottom corner with the Ravens’ ‘keeper helpless to intervene.
Jon Froggatt struck a 22-yard effort close enough to the target for Sean Bowles to have to make a save, then Glyn Cotton hit another effort that was always rising over the crossbar.
It had been a very scrappy first half that lacked quality throughout. However, in the dying moments, Kris Nurse showed good skills in bringing the ball under control although his shot went straight to Aaron Chapman.
Coalville pegged the Nailers back in the early stages of the second period and in the 48th minute they equalised with a smartly taken goal scored from an acute angle by Lewis Dodd.
Belper’s response was very positive and Shaun Tuton had two opportunities in as many minutes to regain the lead but he over ran the ball for the first one and then had his second effort deflected for a corner kick.
Colin Marrison flicked the ball just wide on 63 minutes, and Belper were gaining a slight edge in possession although Anthony Carney went close with a shot on 75 minutes.
Jerome Murdock, on as a substitute for the Ravens, forced a good save out of Aaron Chapman with five minutes to go, although Shaun Roulston’s 87th minute header produced an even better one from Sean Bowles, who saved his side from the first home league defeat of the season.
This was a solid and gritty performance from the Nailers and a very good result against a team that has been virtually unbeatable home and away all season.
Coalville Town: Bowles, Jenno, Stuart, Miveld, Hill (Way 58), Kay, Woodward, Dodd, Nurse, Carney, Robbins (Murdock 70). Unused subs: Leigh, Powell, Gibson.
Belper Town: Chapman, Wright, Rushbury, Cotton, Roulston, Adams, Adam (Graves 65), Warne, Froggatt, Tuton (Ward 75), Marrison (Harrison 75). Unused subs: Godber, Ratcliffe.