Belper Town 2
Hucknall Town 0
Belper Town made easy work of this victory but the scoreline failed to reflect their virtual domination of a one-sided match.
The Nailers were without broken nose victim Richard Adams so Shaun Roulston retained his place in the heart of the Belper defence.
Shaun Tuton and Jared Stephens returned to the opening line-up, both having been cup-tied for the FA Carlsberg Trophy defeat last Saturday while Danny Deakin, a midfield player signed from Matlock Town, was given a place on the substitutes bench.
Andy Rushbury was making his 350th appearance for the club, a superb record from the player who was signed by Ernie Moss from Buxton in January 1995.
Hucknall included former Nailers Rob Paling and Ben Spargo in their ranks alongside former Belper Town Junior player Evan Garnett.
The Nailers forced the pace from the off and twice in quick succession, Hucknall ‘keeper Jason Fisher punched clear unconvincingly and then the goalkeeper was fortunate to be standing the right place when Simon Harrison’s near post shot struck him and bounced to safety.
Despite Belper’s early pressure, they almost went behind when Chris Baugh picked up Karl Colley’s headed clearance but his shot from 25 yards took a late deflection and scuttled away for an unproductive corner.
Clearcut scoring opportunities were at a premium, typified when Shaun Tuton ran on to Karl Colley’s punt over the Hucknall defence but the young Nailers’ striker got the ball tangled in his feet and the chance was lost.
Aaron Pride was causing all sorts of problems with his surging runs out of defence and from one of his trademark forays, the Nailers took a deserved lead after 33 minutes.
The ball was eventually played into the penalty area where Jared Stephens turned sharply to lash an unstoppable shot just inside the far post.
Fisher than did well to tip over a dipping, swerving shot from Harrison as the Nailers maintained the pressure on the visitors’ goal before Colin Marrison’s glancing near-post header from a Simon Harrison corner drifted aimlessly wide of the target.
It was a similar story after the interval as Belper continued to dominate possession but without really testing Jason Fisher in the Hucknall goal.
Andy Rushbury was unfortunate to see his goalbound shot take a huge deflection which took the ball over the bar before Shaun Tuton’s close-range header again found Fisher in the perfect position to keep the ball out.
Belper’s pressure finally paid off after 69 minutes when Shaun Tuton bulldozed his way through the heart of the Hucknall defence before slipping the ball past the advancing Fisher from 12 yards out.
It was no more than the Nailers deserved for their almost constant attacking play throughout the game.
Colin Marrison volleyed over the crossbar when well-placed and a late free-kick from substitute, Mark Ward wasn’t too far wide of the target as Belper strived for a third goal that would have reflected the scoreline that their overall performance deserved.
Belper Town: Ratcliffe, Pride, Wright, Marrison, Roulston, Colley, Harrison (Ozmen 89), Warne, Stephens, Tuton (Ward 84), Rushbury (Stirrup 89). Other subs: Deakin, Chapman
Hucknall Town: Fisher, Paling, Austin, Green, Nightingale, McAnulty (Payne 87), Garnett (Spargo 45), Mellon, Topliss, Sibenge, Baugh. Other Subs: Carty, Hayes, Leggitt
Referee: Christopher Ward (Worksop)
Match Sponsor: In memory of Madge Pride
Man of the Match: Simon Harrison