Evo-Stik League Division One South
Market Drayton Town 3, Belper Town 2
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town are still searching for their first league victory of the season after this frustrating defeat at Market Drayton last Saturday.
Hopes were high that the Nailers would return from Shropshire with three points, but Peter Duffield’s men gave away three questionable goals to the opposition and didn’t make the most of the opportunities they created.
It will be of concern to the Belper management that the team have yet to click into gear and come anywhere near the invincible form of the second half of last season.
It was a similar line up to the one that had recovered from being two goals down against Sheffield on Bank Holiday Monday, although Jordan Ball started on the bench for the first time since joining the club.
Belper made a promising start and when close to taking the lead in the first minute when Steve Warne headed a Simon Harrison cross just wide of the upright.
But it was the home team that took the lead in the 5th minute after the Nailers couldn’t clear the ball and Darryl Proffitt was the first to react to the ball after a deflected shot had come back off the cross bar.
Simon Harrison chested the ball back to Ryan Mallon in the 17th minute, but Mallon’s shot floated over the cross bar, and as the Nailers tried to find their rhythm, Harrison sent a 20th minute free kick just past the post.
The Nailers needed a slice of luck in the 27th minute when Colin Marrison made space for a shot after controlling Ryan Mallon’s cross expertly, but his resulting shot rebounded off the Market Drayton ‘keeper and on to the outside of the post.
Moments later Mallon tried to scoop the ball in at the near post as the Nailers’ laboured play created a rare first half opportunity, however the game had descended into a scrappy affair offering little in entertainment value for the patient spectators.
But Belper had a great opportunity to level the scores close to the end of the half when Ryan Mallon set up Simon Harrison with a perfect shooting chance but he pulled his shot disappointingly wide of the far post.
That missed opportunity looked far more costly when Darryll Proffitt had time and space to a hit a controlled volley past Aaron Chapman in first half added on time to send the Nailers in 2-0 down for the third successive game.
There was an immediate improvement and sense of urgency at the start of the second half, and almost immediately Ashley Longstaff created a good chance for Colin Marrison, but the Belper skipper who has been in the goals recently, saw his rather tame shot saved by Damien Stevens.
But the breakthrough came in the 50th minute when Ryan Mallon snapped up a close range opportunity after an Aaron Pride free kick bounced through a group of players, and the fight back was on.
A resurgent Nailers equalised on 65 minutes when Karl Colley was first to the ball following a Richard Adams long throw, and Market Drayton were on the rack at this stage and looking favourites to lose the game.
Richard Adams put a header over the bar on 70 minutes, but from then on Belper seemed to fade away as an attacking force and allowed Market Drayton to get the upper hand.
Even then, there was no way that the Shropshire side should have been allowed any opportunity to cause any problems for Aaron Chapman, but in the 84th minute more unsatisfactory defending then allowed substitute Delroy Fox the opportunity of a shot at goal, which he gratefully accepted and executed with a crisply struck shot that flew past Aaron Chapman.
The Nailers have now dropped nine points from their opening four games, with defensive errors the main contributing factor, and certainly won’t have gone unnoticed by manager Peter Duffield, who will be desperate to put things right.
Market Drayton Town: Stevens, Joves, Sweatman (Wells 75), Armstrong, Spooner, Blake, Porter, Humphreys (Fox 52), Ryan, Rogers (Daniels 60), Proffitt. Unused sub: Cooke.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride (Ball 83), Wright, Leonard, Adams, Colley, Harrison (Stirrup 80), Warne, Longstaff (Ward 56), Mallon, Marrison. Unused subs: Rushbury, Ratcliffe.
Referee: M Steward (West Midlands)