Belper Town’s excellent run of form and results continued last week when they earned a point against Gresley and then comfortably beat Loughborough Dynamo, with both games at Christchurch Meadow.
Both opponents had enjoyed a resurgence in form before facing the Nailers.
Gresley played some entertaining football for at least 60 minutes of last Tuesday’s game and the Nailers struggled at times to create opportunities whilst containing them.
In fact when Gresley snatched the lead in the first half it was a concern that Belper might be heading for their first defeat in 15 games.
However not for the first time this season, the Nailers emerged in a different frame of mind after the break and began the process of breaking down a well organised Gresley piece by piece.
Belper edged closer to getting an equaliser and all credit to the Moatmen who kept things very tight at the back until substitute Mark Ward popped up to stab a loose ball into the net.
“On reflection I think it was a point gained,” said manager Peter Duffield.
“I had a go at the players at half-time and we were better in the second half but I think I was out of order and should have given more credit to a Gresley side that were excellent, particularly in the first half, and after the efforts we put in against Stamford I should have thought differently about team selection.”
If the game had continued for an extra ten minutes, the Nailers would have surely got a winner as the Moatmen were getting repeatedly stretched and had racked up a number of bookings.
Loughborough didn’t provide the same quality of opposition but still managed to frustrate Belper for long periods and forced the Nailers into a second half revival.
Chris Adam set Belper on their way and the result appeared to be a formality with the Nailers looking in command, but Dynamo had a spell of possession just before the break in which they passed the ball around really well and equalised right on half-time.
n Continued on page 35
Again it required some well chosen words from the Belper management in the dressing room to kick start a sense of urgency in the Nailers play, and a well-taken brace from leading goalgetter Jon Froggatt saw Belper home and dry with a degree of comfort.
“If we had been more clinical in the first half the game would have been over by half time,” said Duffield, “and it was a disappointing goal to give away just before the break that set us back a bit.
“We looked stronger and more energised after the break and, in the end, we won the game comfortably thanks to a couple of typical striker’s goals from Jon Froggatt.”
Froggatt has now scored 16 goals, having played barely half a season, and bets are on as to how many more he will get before the season ends.
Simon Harrison should be available again for next Saturday’s trip to Leek Town, and Duffield pulled off an astute signing last week when he brought former skipper Dan White back to the club from Rainworth Miners Welfare.
“I’m very pleased to have Dan back with us again. We had a few things to sort out after he left us earlier in the season, but to have a player of Dan’s calibre in the squad, particularly at this stage of the season, is a real bonus.
“Simon should be OK for next Saturday and he wanted to play against Loughborough but we thought he should have another week to recover,” he said.
It also looks highly unlikely that Aaron Pride will play again this season as he has a cartilage problem that may take longer than expected to repair.
Belper’s ultimate ambition would be to win enough games to push for the runner-up spot and therefore have home advantage in the play-offs, but realistically it looks as though Kings Lynn are favourites to grab second while Sutton Coldfield, Stamford and the Nailers battle it out to finish third and avoid a first leg away trip to face the Linnets.
Belper go to Harrison Park this weekend to face Leek Town and then travel to Carlton Town next Wednesday evening.