BELPER Town FC went into Tuesday evening’s huge home game against fifth-placed Leek Town knowing they had their play-off prospects in their own hands.
If the Nailers had managed a fourteenth victory from their last fifteen games, they will have climbed above the Staffordshire side to be in contention for the end of season play-offs going into the last league game of the season on Saturday.
Town supporters have barely had time to catch their breath in the last few weeks as the Nailers have produced fantastic results game after game and now sit ready to claim a play-off place, a situation that was unthinkable four months ago.
A record of five wins and a draw in March saw manager Peter Duffield deservedly win the Manager of the Month Award, although due to him being on holiday his presentation by the Evo-Stik League has been postponed to a later date.
Assistant manager Mick Godber had the unenviable task of stepping into Duffield’s shoes but if things have changed temporarily in the dugout, it was business as usual on the pitch.
“It was a workman-lke performance against Romulus that got us the points last Saturday,’ said Godber. “But we won at Sheffield with more style against a good side.
“It was just a case of taking it forward into the Shepshed game although the first half lacked quality we had ‘words’ during half time and we looked far better in the second half and won convincingly in the end.” Easter victories over Romulus (2-1) and most impressively, at Sheffield FC (2-0) on Easter Monday might have been all in vain if they had stumbled at Shepshed last Saturday.
In fact the Nailers have only emerged with three points on one occasion in nine attempts from the Dovecote, but that dismal record was swept away in spectacular fashion and they went on to record their best win of the season.
A late equaliser for Leek against Quorn on Saturday confirmed the fact that the Nailers will need to win their penultimate home fixture against the Staffordshire club on Tuesday and to make absolutely sure of a play off place, also beat New Mills in their final league game of the season, also at Christchurch Meadow on Saturday.
This scenario would see Belper travel to Carlton on Wednesday, April 25 as the Millers look almost certain to finish in third place alongside Belper in fourth.
“’We’ve got to win both our remaining games and because of that we are still outsiders for the play-offs,” said Godber. “But we’ve got winners in our squad who know what it takes in situations like this.
“We’ve done tremendously well to get in this postion in the first place so we need that final push to complete the job.”
Any other outcome against Leek would see Belper needed unlikely final day favours from Romulus (away to Sheffield) and Shepshed (away to Leek) for there to be a situation where the Nailers could finish in fifth place.
Belper’s late surge that has seen them take 40 points from an available 42 and score 39 goals in the process has to be considered a tremendous achievement whatever the outcome this week.
However, the Nailers have the advantage of being in a winning mentality and hopefully this will see them through to promotion to the Premier Division.
The Nailers made a crucial long-term signing just before Easter when promising youngster Aaron Chapman agreed to sign contract terms that will keep him at the club until the end of next season.
There is sure to be at least four or five additional players brought into the club during the close season and whichever division the Nailers find themselves in next August, the squad will be stronger than ever.