EHL Conference North
Deeside Ramblers 2
IN what was a massive game for both clubs, old rivals Deeside Ramblers, who were placed just above the relegation zone in the table, profited from an early Christmas gift of three points from Belper.
The Nailers were looking to cement their mid-table status ahead of the mjid-season break.
As was befitting for such an important game, the previous week’s attendance and effort at training was excellent with the only slight worry being an injury doubt over keeper Slane.
The side were lucky to welcome back over-40s world cup winner Nick Morris to the front line, fresh from his efforts in the sultry heat and humidity of Singapore.
Coming off the back of a run of heavy defeats, the Nailers were looking to get their season back on track with three points.
After a slight delay due to some slight pooling of water on the surface, keeper Slane resumed after winning his fitness race.
Once the game got underway it was the Nailers who began to dictate the tempo and pace of the game.
From the outset it was clear that the Nailers were in with a good chance of the points today as early moves seemed to find the Deeside defence somewhat unsettled.
The first chance of the game fell to Belper when Adam Innocent was able to pick the ball up just outside the Deeside circle. Making his debut start in the league, Adam was able to drive into the circle and draw the ‘keeper.
He then skilfully lifted the ball over the keeper only to see his effort sail wide of the far post. This was not to be the only chance that the Nailers spurned.
Deeside began to threaten on the counter attack and Latif brought a save from Slane as the visitors fired a warning shot across the Belper bow.
As the half wore on, the Belper side laid siege to the Deeside goal with chances coming and going and the Belper forwards becoming increasingly frustrated.
The half ended scoreless and with the home side wondering how they were not in the lead and out of sight already.
In stark contrast to the previous three week’s Belper were able to enjoy a half-time team talk while being in the ascendancy in a game. The team took to the pitch knowing that they had 35 minutes to make their dominance pay dividends.
They also knew that if given the opportunity, Deeside contained within their ranks the league’s most prolific goal scorer in penalty corner expert Ali Ghanzafar.
Unfortunately for Belper the second half started much as the first had finished with the Deeside goal under siege.
Numerous chances were created but wasted with far too many efforts not even troubling the visitor’s keeper.
As can only be expected when a side have so much possession and dominance in a game but do not capitalise,
Deeside started to grow in confidence and countered well to earn a penalty corner.
Luckily for Belper Ghanzafar fluffed his flick and Slane was able to kick clear the tame effort. This was a massive let off for the Belper side.
An unpleasant facial injury to Inshaw saw him have to leave the pitch and visit hospital after he was on the receiving end of an ill-judged aerial ball from a Deeside player.
Eventually the breakthrough came for Belper in the 51st minute.
A great pass from Blackwell picked out Morris who attacked the Deeside goal. The visiting ‘keeper made a good save off Morris’s first effort but the rebound fell kindly to Nick who was able to finish into an open goal.
The relief was almost palpable and it was 1-0 in the 51st minute.
Deeside reacted to this in a positive manner attacking the Belper defence with long aerial balls for their hard working forwards.
On one occasion the Belper defence were caught pressing high and the Deeside forward managed to get round the back and pull the ball back for Latif to fire an effort low towards the goal. Slane got down well to block the effort and divert the ball wide of the goal.
Unfortunately the ball ricocheted off Jake Bullock’s stick as he tried to control the ball and conceded the penalty corner as the ball deflected off his shin. On this occasion Ghanzafar made no mistake with his flick sending the ball high into the net to equalise for Deeside. 1-1 after 54 minutes.
This was a major set-back for the Nailers that they did not recover quickly from.
Indeed Deeside now had their tails up and it was only another three minutes before they took the lead as Edward Peel ran unchallenged through the Belper defence to fire a shot past an obstructed Slane for 2-1 to the visitors on 57 minutes.
For the remainder of the game Belper created and missed several chances – the last five minutes alone giving Belper the opportunities to win the game comfortably.
As the final whistle went, the Deeside team celebrated as they know they have secured a vital three points while the Belper side now know that they are facing a much tougher second half of the season.
Belper take on Leek at Leek High School this Sunday (Nov 27). All support would be very welcome for what is another vital game.