First Division South
Belper Town 2, Quorn 1
An injury time winner earned Belper Town a narrow victory over the division’s bottom club although Quorn did more than enough to earn at least a point in a dour contest at Christchurch Meadow.
The Nailers made a welcome return to action following and enforced break of almost three weeks due to cold weather postponements, and were almost at full strength.
New signing Mark Ward was named on the bench and was in good company with Deon Meikle, Andy Rushbury and Michael Simpkins who were also named as substitutes.
Aaron Pride was absent through suspension but Ben Leonard’s return from injury saw him included as the fifth member of a strong looking bench.
Sam Wood had an early opportunity to open the scoring for Quorn when they were awarded a free kick n the edge of the area in the first minute, but his effort drifted past the upright.
Richard Adams was almost as close with a 3rd minute header from a corner kick after the Nailers’ first sortie into the Quorn half, and a Kris Nurse’s back header looped over the bar as the visitors nearly caught out Belper a minute later.
Dan White headed a dangerous free kick from Dan Marshall away for a corner kick and moments later the Quorn striker’s overhead kick wasn’t too far away.
As Belper slowly came into the game, Ashley Longstaff tested Matt Nurse’s alertness with crisp shot on the turn from just outside the penalty area in the 15th minute.
A spell of Belper pressure failed to find a way through the Quorn rearguard and then Sam Wood’s attempted hook shot went wide in the 22nd minute which served as a defensive reminder for the Nailers.
Now it was the visitor’s turn to apply pressure and Ashley Robinson had the game’s best chance in the 25th minute when he stuck a venomous angled shot that Gavin Saxby managed to push away.
However moments later the Nailers were in the lead when Steve Warne’s run was curtailed by Sam Wood just inside the penalty area and Jon Froggatt stepped up to convert the spot kick on 27 minutes.
Froggatt went close to doubling Belper’s lead in the 31st after some excellent wing play from Chris Adam, but the Belper striker’s shot took a slight deflection as he looked destined to score from Adam’s cross.
Kris Nurse fired over a good effort by way of a reply soon afterwards and Quorn looked anything but a bottom-of-the-table team at this stage of the game.
Jon Froggatt got around the back of the Quorn defence in the 41st minute but there was no-one to get onto his cross into the box and of more concern was the fact that the visitor’s were having much the better of the latter stages of the first half.
Right on the stroke of half time Ashley Robinson saw a well struck free kick whistle inches past the far post leaving the visitors unfortunate to be a goal down at the break.
Jon Froggatt was close to giving the Nailers a good start to the second half when he headed Chris Adam’s 47th minute cross just over.
But Belper soon found themselves defending far more than they would have liked as Quorn came forward repeatedly.
Glyn Cotton’s snap shot following a rare Belper attack forced a great save from Matt Nurse, but Chris Adam’s resulting corner kick went out of play.
In a better spell for Belper Ashley Longstaff scuffed his shot after the ball broke to him in the 57th minute, then the Belper striker weaved his way into a shooting position moments later and saw his shot bounce away off the foot of the post.
Quorn had their chance to equalise when Glyn Cotton got his legs tangled around Rob Norris who was making progress into the Belper penalty area and it was an easy decision for the referee who awarded a penalty, and Kris Nurse duly scored in the 60th minute.
Mark Ward and Deon Meikle replaced Ashley Longstaff and Glyn Cotton for the last 20 minutes as the Nailers tried to reassert themselves.
Quorn should have taken the lead in the 80th minute when Kris Nurse found space to shoot but wastefully struck the ball over the top, and the Nailers were relieved to have been let off so lightly.
Gavin Saxby was struggling to deal with a shot from Fabian Smith in the 82nd minute and he got lucky with the rebound that could have gone anywhere.
Deon Meikle hit an air shot as the ball came across to him on the corner of the six yard area, but at least the Nailers were trying to raise their game.
Jon Froggatt had time to set himself up for a winner but sent his shot wide of the far post, however soon afterwards, in the 91st minute, Belper regained the lead when Chris Adam latched on to a Mark Ward pass and made certain from eight yards out.
This goal proved to the clincher for Belper and earned them three points that their performance barely deserved, but they had at least extended their run to 4 wins from the last 6 games which was a far more significant statistic.
Belper Town: Saxby, Wright, Weir, Cotton (Meikle 70), Adams, White, Rennalls (Rushbury 90), Warne, Froggatt, Longstaff (Ward 70), Adam. Unused subs: Simpkins, Leonard.
Quorn FC: Nurse M, Shaw, Marriott, Smedley, Carr, Gray, Robinson (Hamilton 87), Wood, Nurse K, Norris, Marshall (Smith 79). Unused subs: Turner, Lutaaya, Attenborough.
Referee: Chris Akers (Armthorpe)
Match sponsor: Boxall, Brown and Jones
Man of the match: Steve Warne