First Division South
Kidsgrove Athletic 2
Belper Town 0
BELPER Town came off second best at the Seddon Stadium after conceding a goal in each half, and left the Nailers anxiously looking at the teams behind them in the lower reaches of the league table.
These are uncertain times for Belper Town and their manager Peter Duffield as he tries to put together a winning side, but after a great start to his tenure at Christchurch Meadow, he has struggled to pick up points with only six gained in November and now December is off to a losing start.
Dan White came in for the departed Damien Magee and with Richard Adams unavailable, Greg Wright moved into the centre of defence.
Colin Marrison was selected in midfield at the expense of Deon Meikle who had to be satisfied with a place on the bench, while Scott Ellis came in for a rare start on the right hand side.
It was a desperate start for Belper who just didn’t seem ready for the early onslaught from Kidsgrove who had won only twice in 13 games, and in the second minute an inexplicable attempted back pass from Aaron Pride required a full length save from Andy Richmond.
The Nailers were completely caught out a minute later when Dave Walker latched on to through pass and after drawing Richmond, placed his shot beyond him and into the beckoning goal.
Not for the first time this season, Belper found themselves chasing the game and Colin Marrison wasn’t far away from a swift response with a hook shot just past the post.
In the 15th minute the Nailers put together a flowing move culminating in another Marrison shot that was saved by the ‘keeper, but for the next 15 minutes neither side created anything to speak of and it was a scrappy period of play.
Dave Walker was a whisker away from adding to Grove’s lead in the 30th minute but fortunately his fiercely struck shot fizzed over the cross bar, then Ashley Longstaff showed good control before unleashing a 20 yard effort that was well saved by Steve Hodgson.
The Nailers had to wait until the 44th minute before earning their first corner kick that unfortunately came to nothing and in the 45th minute Andy Richmond saved the Nailers from going further adrift with a point blank save from Ashley Carter.
However Steve Hodgson performed heroics moments before the half time whistle by launching himself to divert Jon Froggatt’s free kick from 20 yards around the post.
Belper needed a positive start to the second period but they didn’t get it.
Karl Charlton should have scored in the 54th minute after bursting through the Nailers’ defence and sent his shot across the face of goal and past the far post.
Jon Froggatt responded with a shot in the 57th minute but the Nailers almost conceded moments later after Colin Marrison lost possession just inside his own half and within seconds Dave Walker had hit the upright with a shot from the edge of the area.
However before Belper could get the ball away, Karl Charl ton drove the ball in from 15 yards to put Grove in control.
Andy Richmond did well to block a Danny Smith free kick in the 64th minute, and Belper rode their luck again when Dave Walker crossed to Ross Davidson who volleyed over a great chance from 10 yards.
For ten minute the Nailers enjoyed their best spell of the game and Jon Froggatt was denied by the excellence of Steve Hodgson who beat away his shot after getting the better of Craig Dove on 70 minutes.
Hodgson watched helplessly as an Andy Rushbury free kick wrong footed everyone after taking a deflection with the woodwork save Kidsgrove on this occasion.
Ashley Longstaff was unlucky with an individual effort on 77 minutes and his forceful run ended with a shot that flashed past the far post, and then Jon Froggatt put a presentable header wide of the target minutes later.
That was the best of it from Belper’s point of view and in the last few minutes they were fortunate not to fall further behind when Grove substitutes Darren Twigg and Steve Brannan contrived to miss good opportunities in added on time.
Kidsgrove Athletic: Hodgson, Smith, Dove, Taylor, Crompton, Charlton, Carter, Hall, Walker (Twigg 83), Davidson, Griggs (Brannan 82). Unused subs: Basford, Bull.
Belper Town: Richmond, Pride, White (Rushbury 45), Marrison (Rushbury 45), Wright, O’Hare, Ellis (Ortuno 58), Leonard, Froggatt, Longstaff, Weir. Unused subs: Simmons, Turner.
Referee: Michael D’Aguilar (Cannock). Attendance: 170.
Next in action
Saturday, December 10 - Evo-Stik League First Division South - New Mills v BELPER TOWN, 3pm.
Tuesday, December 13 - Derbyshire Senior Cup, third round - BELPER TOWN v Derby County XI, 7.45pm.