Belper let two-goal lead slip

Evo-Stik League Division One South

Belper Town 2, Brigg Town 2

by Nigel Oldrini

AFTER dominating most of their first home game of the season the Belper Town let slip a 2-0 lead and had to settle for a draw against Brigg Town.

The Nailers made two changes to the side that lost the opening game of the season at Newcastle with Andy Rushbury dropping to substitute to make way for the returning Lee Morris, and an injury to Tommy Hannigan in the warm up gave Matt Plant an unexpected opportunity to start in the centre of defence alongside Alan O’Hare.

Old adversaries Brigg Town, playing in distinctive green were a much changed side having appointed Peter Daniel as manager over the close season.

It was a fast and furious start with both sides relishing the warm evening sunshine, and it was the Nailers who had the first shot on target when Deon Meikle connected well with a sixth minute shot that fell kindly for Tom Woodhead in the Zebras’ goal.

Belper held the initiative in the first 15 minutes or so, and could have gone ahead when Lee Morris and Deon Meikle, combined but the final shot was deflected for a corner.

Meikle hit a dangerous ball into the danger area, that needed a timely header from Greg Archer as the Nailers continued to pressurise, and in the 17th minute Belper took the lead when Jamie Smith got to the ball ahead of the onrushing ‘keeper, and lobbed the ball into the unguarded net.

Almost immediately Brigg came close to equalising, when Bruno Holden chased a long ball down the middle, but he couldn’t get his shot away thanks in the main to the attentions of Matt Plant.

Lee Morris broke clear on 25 minutes but found the angle too narrow and his shot went straight to Woodhead, and then the Nailers suffered a blow when Deon Meikle had to leave the field following a clash with Gregg Archer.

After receiving treatment, Belper’s influential midfielder was unable to shake off the injury and was replaced by Matty Thorpe.

The Nailers continued to have the lion’s share of possession and came close to adding to their lead in the 36th minute when Jon Froggatt turned and shot straight at the ‘keeper.

There was a close call on 39 minutes when Andy Richmond came and missed a corner kick but fortunately Damien Magee was on hand to clear Liam Dickens’ header off the line, then immediately the ball went to the other end where Ruben Wiggins-Thomas turned and hit a rising effort over the bar.

The Nailers needed the comfort of another goal as the second half got under way but they struggled to make an impression going forward in the early stages.

However Tom Woodward made a brilliant save in the 54th minute after Ruben Wiggins-Thomas set up Matty Thorpe for a well struck effort from just inside the penalty area that appeared to have ‘goal’ written over it, until the ‘keeper intervened.

Jon Froggatt had a speculative shot from 16 yards that took a decisive deflection just around the post, as Belper showed signs of regaining the momentum of the first half.

In the 62nd minute Lee Morris found himself clear but dragged his shot wide of the far post when he would have felt that he should have done better.

However the Nailers got the second goal they richly deserved on 63 minutes when Jon Froggatt headed a deep cross from Damien Magee over Woodhead for his first goal of the season.

But Belper celebrations were cut short in the 66th minute when the Zebras pulled a goal back after Lee-Roy Cochrane directed his header just inside the near post.

Then in the 73rd minute the visitors were level when Alex Flett cut inside and hit an in swinging cross that Richmond initially came for before realising he had misjudged the flight of the ball, by which time the ball was in the net.

The Nailers kept up the pressure on the visitor’s goal but there was now the worry that Brigg could catch them out again for the third time, but neither side could fashion a winner and at least Belper had their first league point of the season on the board.

Match stats

Belper Town: Richmond, Adams (Ortuno 81), Magee, Camm, Plant, O’Hare, Wiggins-Thomas, Meikle (Thorpe 29), Froggatt, Smith J, Morris. Unused subs: Graham, Spargo, Rushbury

Brigg Town: Woodhead, Heward, Smith M, Lamb, Archer, Cochrane, Flett, Dickens, Holden, Marshall (Ford 45), Shortland (Clement 45). Unused sub: Cannon

Referee: Michael Bell (Rotherham)

Att: 146

Match sponsors: BTFC Operations Committee.