Evo-Stik Division One South
Belper Town 1
Sutton Coldfield Town 4
IT WAS a familiar story for Belper Town last Tuesday as they gifted Sutton Coldfield victory with a nightmare defensive performance and a punchless attacking display.
Paris Simmons was given his first start since joining the Nailers last October.
Matt McKenzie continued in the centre of defence despite the return to fitness of Matt Plant.
The Nailers stunned the visitors by scoring in the second minute.
It was an excellent move, culminating in an early ball from Darryl Thomas for Paris Simmons, gaining his first start since joining the club last October, and the former Derby County man ran on to fire a low shot into the far corner.
Lee Thompson had Karl Lewis back-tracking in the fifth minute with a looping shot that landed on the cross bar, but the visitors were back on level terms three minutes later when Brendan Kelly powered home a header from a left sided corner kick.
The Nailers were fortunate to get away with a misplaced pass from Liam Davis on 12 minutes and Ali Barcherini saved his blushes by getting in the way of Mark Bellingham’s shot.
Belper fell further behind on 18 minutes when Liam Davis lost possession just inside the penalty area and the ball rebounded to Mark Bellingham who had the easy task of tapping the ball into the net.
Darryl Thomas ran free in 24th minute and despatched a left foot shot just beyond the far post as the Nailers tried to recover, but they found themselves under pressure frequently as Sutton Coldfield threatened to exploit the quick break.
The latter stages of the half became very scrappy with neither side able to string more than two or three passes together and the half-time whistle came as a relief to supporters and players alike.
The Nailers nearly got the second half off to a great start when Ruben Wiggins-Thomas burst through and saw his well struck shot pushed around the post by Lewis.
But they almost gifted the visitors another goal in the 48th minute when an ill-advised back pass let in Bellingham, before a combination of Barcherini and Thompson prevented a third goal.
Good interchanging of passing between Paris Simmons and Jon Froggatt produced a dangerous situation but Simmons’ cross didn’t reach a yellow shirt.
Somehow the ball stayed out of the Sutton Coldfield net in the 54th minute when Darryl Thomas’s initial effort appeared to be handled after a partial save from Karl Lewis, then the ‘keeper blocked Ruben Wiggins-Thomas close range shot moments later.
The game began to slip away from Belper in the 58th minute when Stuart McNaught had a virtually free header from eight yards and he made no mistake to put the visitors in control.
A great run along the byeline from Darryl Thomas came to nothing as his pass into the danger area went straight to a blue shirt.
Sutton Coldfield sealed their win on 83 minutes when Craig Marshall got between two Belper defenders to head Bellingham’s cross just inside the post.
Russ Peel fired a low cross along the goal line in the 86th minute but there was no one there to take advantage, and when it came out to Darryl Thomas he scuffed his shot wide.
The Nailers had enjoyed plenty of the ball going forward and created many promising situations but in the end it was a familiar story of defensive frailties and lack of conviction up front.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Davis (Peel 75), Darker, McKenzie (Plant 45), Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Thomas, Simmons (Rushbury 73). Unused subs. Pride, Barnard.
Sutton Coldfield Town: Lewis, Quiggin, Jackson, McNaught, Booth, Kelly, Dodd, Milligan, Marshall, Bellingham, Harris (Amory 78). Unused subs. Burns, Busby, Onmilbiko.
Referee: Ian Dudley (Mansfield).