Second half flourish sees Nailers extend their run

Sam Duncum 'Photo by Tim Harrison
Sam Duncum 'Photo by Tim Harrison

Belper Town strengthened their place in the Evo-Stik League Division One play-off positions after another dominating performance against a Rainworth side, reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of player/manager, Scott Rickards.

The Nailers were forced into their first change to their opening line-up in the last five games after Dan White was ruled out with an ankle knock.

Chris Jones reverted into a central defensive partnership with Phil Watt while Aaron Pride came into the side at right fullback, following his own injury worries. Former Nailers striker Ashley Longstaff led the line for the Wrens.

A minute’s silence was observed at 3.06pm in memory of the Liverpool supporters, who perished in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago, with the match kicking off one minute later.

The Nailers could have been ahead in sensational style in the opening minute when Kieran Wells volleyed Aaron Cole’s free kick towards the top corner but James Martin reacted superbly to touch the ball over the bar.

Steve Warne then headed the ball narrowly wide after Martin’s weak punch fell invitingly for the Belper skipper as the Nailers began the game strongly.

Rainworth began to settle into the game with the diminutive Jack Hawkins posing a threat with his nimble footwork and his eagerness to shoot whenever the opportunity arose. But it was Belper who were asking most of the questions in the early stages with a couple of dangerous crosses requiring James Martin to cut out the danger as Colin Marrison and Aaron Cole both tested the home ‘keeper with close range headers.

Scott Rickards briefly threatened at the other end but his driven free-kick clattered against the defensive wall, which took the steam out of the effort, and Low was untroubled as the ball made

The major talking point of the half came on 38 minutes when Rickards was dismissed following a clash with Colin Marrison. The two protagonists had been involved in a spat between them a few minutes earlier.

Half-time arrived with the scoreline still goalless but Rainworth’s hopes took a blow early after the restart when Longstaff limped off injured.

This, together with the introduction of substitute Simon Harrison, allowed the Nailers to gain control of the match and to start to increase the pressure on the Rainworth back line.

Jon Froggatt burst through the home defence but he shot hurriedly and skewed his effort just wide of the target.

But the breakthrough soon arrived when Colin Marrison headed in at the far post.

Harrison fizzed a powerful shot just over the angle and Phil Watt will still be asking himself how he failed to convert a close range effort at the far post following another teasing flag kick from Cole.

But the lead was doubled after 71 minutes when Marrison cleverly set up James Cullingworth to step inside a defender before shooting powerfully and low into the far corner and put the game beyond the hosts.

Jon Froggatt tapped in Belper’s third goal from close range after 82 minutes after Martin could only parry a Chris Jones header, with the accuracy of Aaron Cole’s corner kicks continuing to create mayhem.

Rainworth responded immediately when the Nailers made a hash of their defensive duties, allowing Tristram Whitman to hammer home.

Belper added a fourth on the 90-minute mark when Froggatt played in substitute Sam Duncum, who cut inside the box and drove the ball under the beleaguered Martin.