Two excellent away wins in five days has breathed life back into a Belper Town side that looked down and out after their disappointing showing against Shepshed, and now supporters are asking why it can’t be like this every week.
And while it could be said that both wins were achieved against sides that haven’t exactly pulled any trees up this season, scrutiny of Leek’s and Lincoln’s recent records show marked improvements for both clubs over the last five or so fixtures.
“Our work rate in the last two games has been the difference between then and now,” explained manager Andy Carney.
“We had to stop the rot and went to a 4-5-1 formation specifically to stem the flow of goals we have been letting in, and by packing midfield it has worked.
“We adopted this formation when we first took over three years ago and it helped steer us clear of relegation and it’s a tactic that we need to revert back to now and then. It’s not an easy option though because you need the players to be able to do it.”
Matt Plant’s return to full fitness has a lot to do with Belper’s better form as his presence has seen a drastic reduction in goals conceded.
The arrival of Kallum Keane, a former Derby County reserve defender has added further depth to Andy Carney’s squad and last Saturday Richard Adams moved to left back to accommodate Keane alongside Plant.
Birmingham-born, Keane signed for the Nailers having had his contract with Derby County cancelled by mutual consent at the end of January. He has also been registered with Alfreton Town, who have agreed for him to sign a dual registration for the Nailers.
Aged 19, he is a Republic of Ireland youth international, having qualified for the national team through his grandparents.
A former Rams Academy player, he signed professional terms for the Derby County in July 2010 and made five full appearances and two as substitute for their reserve team in the 2010/11 campaign.
Carney added: “We knew Kallum was going to be available a few weeks ago and we’re really pleased to have him here. He’s a quality player and he was terrific in his debut .”
Another former Derby County player Paris Simmons, has been appearing in the side more frequently and significantly, has been in the starting line up in both of the last two games.
Simmons has proved to be something of an enigma to Belper supporters as his pedigree suggests that he should be featuring more prominently, and be a key member of the squad.
For reasons not made clear by the Belper management he has spent most of his time since his arrival warming the bench, but he has started to show some of the ability that would be expected of a player of his calibre.
It could simply be that his style of play hasn’t fitted in with the way that the Nailers have been playing, and in fact his inclusion in the side has been at the expense of Darryl Thomas who has had to be satisfied with coming on late in the game from the subs. bench.
However, with Simmons playing just behind Jon Froggatt and the excellent Nicky Darker just in front of the back four, there certainly seems to be a change in fortunes for the Nailers who were previously looking as though they had run out of ideas.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas has flitted between brilliance and obscurity and last Saturday was a good example of the best and not so good of the former Matlock Town man.
In the first half, despite having the beating of the Lincoln full-back more often than not he wasn’t able to deliver crosses accurately or ran down blind alleys. However, everything came together for him after the break and he scored two very well taken goals, particularly the second where he showed great strength and concentration to keep his feet and score.
Andy Rushbury hasn’t been able to hold down a regular place recently but when he is in the starting line up you know that he will give 100 per cent for the cause and most Belper supporters would rather see him on the field than sitting on the bench.
Rushbury has certainly been a great servant to the club and has made over 280 appearances for the Nailers and there’s no reason why he can’t make many more, as he remains a valuable member of the squad.
Belper have two consecutive home league fixtures scheduled with Rainworth Miners Welfare coming to Christchurch Meadow this Saturday and Rushall Olympic next Tuesday evening (February 22, 7.45pm).