First Division South
Belper Town 5
Market Drayton Town 1
BELPER Town ended their miserable run of home form in dramatic style by going nap against Market Drayton, and claimed their first league victory at Christchurch Meadow since mid-November.
The Nailers drafted in assistant manager Mark Bernard after Richard Adams pulled out with a stomach problem just before kick-off, and with Aaron Pride serving a suspension, Liam Davis came in at left back with Lee Thompson switching to the other flank.
Nicky Darker was also missing due to suspension and there was a surprise inclusion on the substitutes’ bench after Luke Fedorenko rejoined the club on deadline day after previously leaving Christchurch Meadow seemingly under a cloud.
After a positive start to the game the Nailers found themselves a goal down after only three minutes when Shaun Humphrey’s speculative effort from 25 yards bounced awkwardly off the hard surface and eluded Ali Barcherini who otherwise might have had it covered.
The visitors lost the services of Bobby Spooner through injury as early as the eighth minute, and Ashley Burd replaced him.
The Nailers were undeterred by their early set-back and continued to play some entertaining football albeit withouit getting too close to the visitors’ goal.
However, in the 25th minute Ruben Wiggins-Thomas showed some nifty footwork prior to shooting from the edge of the area but unfortunately the ball was deflected away for a corner kick.
Jon Froggatt appeared to head a good opportunity just wide from the resulting corner but nevertheless supporters were heartened by the Nailers’ response to going behind so early in the game.
Belper’s reward for some enterprising play came in the 32nd minute when Lee Thompson picked out Jon Froggatt running in at the far post and Belper’s top scorer side-footed the ball in-off the opposite upright to level the scores.
The Nailers nearly took the lead on 44 minutes when a quickly taken throw-in by Froggatt eventually led to Darryl Thomas shooting from just outside the penalty area, although a slight deflection took the ball just over the cross bar.
Belper could be pleased with their first half display and now needed to continue in the same vein in the second period.
Wiggins-Thomas did really well to work his way into the Market Drayton penalty area but couldn’t make good use of the ball, and the Nailers perhaps should have gone ahead in the 50th minute when Froggatt floated a far post cross in from the right, but Thomas placed his header wide of the target.
At this stage the game went a bit flat from Belper’s perspective with the visitors threatening to gain the upper hand, and in the 63rd minute Tom Rogers cut inside to send a fine effort over Barcherini and on to the cross bar, then Martyn Davies had time to pick his spot and fortunately put his shot wide.
Suddenly the Nailers sparked into life when Paris Simmons curled an absolute beauty beyond the static Andrew Pryce on 65 minutes to put Belper in the unfamiliar position of being in front.
Darryl Thomas had supporters on their feet 60 seconds later when he burst through and scored Belper’s third goal with a fine effort that went in off the post with Pryce again helpless to intervene.
Thomas was in a similar position two minutes later but couldn’t bring the ball under control and it ran away from him, allowing the ‘keeper to make the interception; however Jon Froggatt capped an excellent personal performance when he latched onto Andy Rushbury’s pass and ran on to coolly slot the ball past Pryce who had failed to close the gap at the near post.
Andy Rushbury was on hand to clear the ball off the line in the 79th minute but there was more to come from Belper who had begun to pull the visitors’ defence all over the place.
In the 83rd minute Luke Fedorenko finished off an intricate passing movement by squeezing his shot just inside the upright, and the crowd was willing Belper on to get a sixth goal which always seemed likely.
However, they will be more than happy with this showing.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Davis, Thorpe, Plant, Barnard, Wiggins-Thomas (Rushbury 75), Smith (Laight 87), Froggatt, Thomas (Fedorenko 75), Simmons. Unused subs: Adams, Carney.
Market Drayton Town: Pryce, Turton, Jones, Stallard, McMullen, Spooner (Burd 8), Porter, Humphreys, Rogers, Davies, Proffitt (Stevenson 75). Unused subs: Garratt, Line.
Referee: Mark Jones (Mansfield). Attendance: 146.
Match sponsor: Lion Hotel, Belper.
Man of the match: Paris Simmons.
Next in action:
Saturday, April 9 - Belper Town v Lincoln United (3m).
Tuesday, April 12 - Barwell v Belper Town (7.45pm).