After three successive pre-season victories for the Nailers, manager Peter Duffield was looking to continue his preparations for the new season in similar style.
Five changes were made to the team that beat Staveley Miners Welfare four days earlier, with Shaun Roulston, Andy Rushbury, Glyn Cotton, Shaun Tuton and Jamie Jackson all starting.
The excitement began after just 50 seconds when Jamie Jackson picked the ball up in the middle and cleverly turned his way out of trouble to begin running at the Ilkeston defence. Coming in from the left, his neat close control caused problems for the Robins’ backline as his pace took him away from two challenges before he drilled a fierce shot into the near corner to give the Nailers an early lead.
Both teams looked to signal their intent with fast attacking football as chances went begging. Eight minutes in, defender Dan White played a 30-yard pass towards Shaun Tuton on the right hand side, whose skilful run took him past the Ilkeston left back and his resulting cross was cleared.
The equalising goal came in the 22nd minute when a long ball downfield was accurately headed on by Richards into the path of Stokes, who hit it first time on the half volley over the Nailers‘ keeper.
Ilkeston then nearly took the lead after a delightful combination between Adams and Richards put Adams one-on-one with Ratcliffe, only to fire his shot across the face of the goal and an inch wide of the post.
Peter Duffield’s half-time team talk did the trick as it took just 15 seconds for Jon Froggatt to give Belper Town the lead for a second time. The ball was hoisted downfield immediately from the kick off, and a mix-up in the Ilkeston defence allowed Froggatt through to glide the ball past the despairing ‘keeper with consummate ease. The Nailers’ talisman once again showed his ability to finish when given half a chance.
Ilkeston again responded well, and in the 52nd minute their corner from the left was headed towards the back post for the unmarked Stokes to chest in his second of the game.
A series of substitutions from both teams proved to be the turning point in the game. Belper began piling on the pressure as Ilkeston struggled to retain possession for any sustained length of time. And on the 61st minute, the Nailers’ corner from right was headed on by the commanding Dan White for Jamie Jackson to produce an outrageous acrobatic volley which smashed against the bar.
Belper had the final say when the lively substitute Anthony Rowley played in a terrific cross from the right, which was guided in by Ashley Longstaff at the far post with 11 minutes remaining.