Belper Town moved to equal second place with Coalville in the league table after this hard-fought victory against Leek Town at Harrison Park on Saturday.
The Staffordshire side gave the Nailers their toughest test for quite some time but two wellt-aken goals in the first half and some excellent saves by Aaron Chapman helped Belper extend their unbeaten run to an incredible 23 games.
Manager Peter Duffield stuck with the same team that won at Romulus seven days earlier
Leek showed themselves to be worthy opponents straight from the off with Sam Hall putting the ball over the bar in the sixth minute. However, Jon Froggatt nearly created Belper’s first goal a minute later when he ran past the ‘keeper and squared the ball to Simon Harrison, who put the ball over the top.
Steve Brannan was a constant thorn in Belper’s side until he was sent off in the 78th minute, and he made space for a shot that Aaron Chapman touched around the post with a full-length save.
Shaun Tuton demonstrated great energy in getting back the ball from a Leek defender in the 27th minute but he sliced his shot well wide.
Nailers’ talisman Jon Froggatt put Belper in front on 29 minutes after collecting a headed pass from Simon Harrison, and then calmly cutting inside and despatching his shot into the bottom corner.
Steve Brannan startled the Nailers with a fine effort that went just wide and reminded them Leek were a force to be reckoned with, then Aaron Chapman pulled off a magnificent save to deny Matt Bell’s curling free kick in the 41st minute.
However, Belper scored a second on the stroke of halftime when Greg Wright nodded Simon Harrison’s free kick over the top of the stretching Ben Chapman, and there was still time for Aaron Chapman to preserve Belper’s lead with another fine save.
Leek made every effort to get back on level terms after the break and it’s hard to remember the last game in which Belper had to defend in depth for such long spells.
The Blues introduced the experienced Lee Morris at half-time and he immediately made an impact by flicking the ball on for Dan Shelley to reduce the arrears from close range on 49 minutes.
Leek sensed they could be the first team to beat Belper since mid-October, and they played the kind of football that suggested they might just do that.
Brannan spoiled an otherwise excellent display by being red carded when he was adjudged to have dived following a Shaun Roulston tackle,.
Yet the Blues continued to press forward with ten men.
Hard work and solid organisation prevailed as Belper saw out the remainder of the game and claimed another valuable three points.
Leek Town: Chapman, Smith, Bell (Mellor 88), Thomas, Bradbury, Hall , Brannan, Shelley, Grice (Morris 45), Kinsey, Danylyk. Unused subs: Connor.
Belper Town: Chapman, Roulston, Wright, Cotton, White, Adams, Harrison (Adam 16), Warne, Froggatt, Tuton (Ward 74), Graves. Unused subs: Thomas, Rushbury, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Joe Hull (Stockport)