Evo Stik NPL
Division One South
Romulus FC 2
Belper Town 1
by Nigel Oldrini
This was a poor result for Belper Town who should have done much better against a Romulus side who had lost three of their opening four league games.
There was a new experience for the majority of the Belper players as Sutton Coldfield Town’s Coles Lane pitch had undergone a transformation during the summer as the club had installed an artificial pitch.
With Damien Magee on holiday, Liam Davis came in for his first start of the season and Paris Simmons was included on the bench for his first involvement since rejoining the Nailers a couple of weeks earlier.
Injury hit Romulus were able to recall skipper Wayne Dyer as they went in such of their first win of the season but for the first 10 minutes or so it was all Belper who started the game in the same fashion that they had ended the previous one at Lincoln in midweek.
They looked at home on the artificial surface, perhaps more so that their hosts and they could have recorded an early lead when Ruben Wiggins-Thomas was just beaten to the ball by Chris Jay following a swift break initiated by Liam Davis.
The Nailers came even closer in the 8th minute when Wiggins-Thomas and Jon Froggatt combined to set up Deon Meikle for a shot from just inside the penalty area but Meikle’s side foot effort went just wide of the far post.
The home side sparked into life after this and when Matt Plant and Tommy Hannigan got in each others way in the 14th minute Marvin Johnson served notice of his ability with a shot just wide on the turn.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas neatly set up Deon Meikle with clever back heal but he swung wildly at the ball and it went well wide then Liam Davis, who was finding it difficult to keep Johnson in check, found himself in the Romulus’ strikers wake and was grateful to see a well struck shot go just wide.
Davis erred again in the 26th minute and this time with greater consequences.
Ashley Jackson’s pass should have been cut out but instead it reached Marvin Johnson who stepped back inside leaving Davis in no man’s land and then struck a tremendous curling shot into the top right hand corner with Andy Richmond helpless to intervene.
Jackson was instrumental in Romulus’ second goal just 3 minutes later when he moved the ball on to his stronger right foot before going for goal, however a deflection presented it to Marvin Johnson who had the relatively easy task of finishing off from 6 yards.
The Nailers had receded steadily back into their own half previously but in the 41st minute Paris Simmons nudged the ball to the better placed Mark Camm, but with Belper having players in the penalty area, Camm’s cross went too near the ‘keeper.
The Nailers shouted for a penalty kick just before the half time whistle when Deon Meikle connected with Simmons’ corner kick and the ball appeared to hit the hand of a defender.
There was no way that the referee was going to award Belper a spot kick for that – and he didn’t.
It was a much better second half from the Nailers and they began the half with a rare shot on target when Jon Froggatt struck the ball straight at Chris Jay.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas managed to get his sights on goal in the 52nd minute but totally miss-kicked, then five minutes later had a close range effort smothered by the ‘keeper, however both chances should really have been converted.
A much livelier Nailers were rewarded on 62 minutes when Matt Plant got in front of his marker to head Paris Simmons’ corner kick firmly into the net, and Belper were back in it.
This was much better from the Nailers who were now threatening to repeat their comeback performance against Lincoln United, and Deon Meikle almost managed it in style with a neat piece of skill in the 70th minute culminating in a volley from just outside the penalty area that again flew straight at the ‘keeper.
Then in the 74th minute the Nailers had their best chance when Aaron Pride’s deep cross was headed back across goal where Jon Froggatt seemingly had an easy task of heading home from 6 yards, but he couldn’t get power and direction and Jay somehow got a hand to it.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas expertly slid the ball between post and ‘keeper to score what he thought was the equaliser with 15 minutes to go, but the referee’s assistant spotted an infringement in the way he had wrested the ball off the defender and sadly disallowed it.
The Nailers couldn’t muster the kind of powerful finish that brought them an equaliser at Ashby Avenue and they might have conceded a third when Marcus Brown fired wide with the entire target to aim at.
Belper kept going until the final whistle but the ball wouldn’t fall kindly for them and as a c consequence, they fell to their second away defeat of the season.
Romulus FC : Jay, Evans, Paskin, Baker, Edwards, Dyer (Powis 74), Walker, Day, Brown, Johnson (Evans 88), Jackson. Unused subs: Dempster, Faulds, Wren.
Belper Town: Richmond, Adams (Rushbury 69), Davis (Pride 45), Camm, Plant, Hannigan, Wiggins-Thomas, Meikle, Froggatt, Morris, Ortuno (Simmons 36). Unused subs: Smith, Thorpe.
Referee: Bruce Rogers (Malvern)