Kidsgrove Athletic 2
Belper Town 2
Belper Town managed to salvage a point in the 94th minute to maintain their impressive 12-game unbeaten run, but they will know that they missed out on a great opportunity to further consolidate their place in the play-off zone, writes Nigel Oldrini.
The Nailers travelled to the Seddon Stadium expecting that Kidsgrove would be out for revenge following their controversial defeat at Christchurch Meadow seven days earlier and in particular the sending off of striker James Curley after only eight minutes.
Belper have never found the going easy on their trips to Kidsgrove and their first half performance left a lot to be desired from a side pushing for play-off qualification.
The hard surface didn’t help flowing football but the Nailers looked sharp enough with Jon Froggatt hitting a third minute effort just wide and Glyn Cotton firing one straight at the ‘keeper.
Grove’s presence in the Belper penalty area had been limited thus far but on 19 minutes they fired a warning shot when Kevin Street nearly beat Aaron Chapman at his near post with a crisply struck shot.
Shaun Roulston had a glimmer of a chance when the ball dropped to him following a 26th minute corner kick, but the ball flew over the crossbar, and then the home team punished the Nailers with a breakaway goal on 32 minutes.
John Johnston did much of the damage when he cut inside and sent Aaron Chapman sprawling to save his initial shot, but the Belper ‘keeper couldn’t prevent Shane Reaney from hitting the follow-up effort into the net from close in.
The Nailers didn’t seem to have an answer to this setback and their play became disjointed as Grove sensed that they now held the initiative.
And sure enough, only five minutes later they had extended their lead when Shane Reaney ran with the ball from deep in his own half before releasing it to James Curley who beat Aaron Chapman with a fiercely struck low drive.
The Nailers looked deflated but there would need to be a vast improvement in the second half.
There was a transformation in Belper straight from the restart and there was only one team in it for the most of the second half.
Chris Adam had a first time effort go over the bar in the 52nd minute, and within a minute Jon Froggatt had a shot on the turn go just wide, but already there was a sense of urgency in the Nailers’ play.
The turning point came in the 60th minute when Jon Froggatt found the far corner of the net after Grove had failed to get the ball away, and Belper kept up the momentum with Glyn Cotton forcing Danny Read into a full length save soon afterwards.
Shaun Tuton nearly capped an impressive second half performance with a goal on 67 minutes with a strong run and shot that just went wide.
Despite Belper’s dominance, it was beginning to look as though they would fall to their first defeat in 12 games, but deep into added-on time Jon Froggatt stepped up to score from a free kick given on the edge of the penalty area in the 94th minute.
It was a battling second half display from Belper. However, with Halesowen closing in on Belper currently in fifth place, this was definitely a case of two points dropped.
Kidsgrove Athletic: Read, Smith, Dove, Espley, Parkinson, Taylor, Street (Hill 67), Skelton, Curley, Reaney (Nagington 83), Johnson. Unused subs: Lowndes, White, Dyson.
Belper Town: Chapman, Wright, Rushbury, Cotton, Roulston, Adams, Adam (Ward 54), Warne (Marrison 60), Froggatt, Tuton, Graves (Harrison 64). Unused subs: Godber, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Richard Price (Birmingham)