Belper tame Tigers
FA Cup, 2nd Qualifying RoundHolbeach United 1Belper Town 3
by Nigel Oldrini
BELPER Town reached the 3rd Qualifying round by defeating United Counties League side Holbeach United, but had to come from behind after the Lincolnshire side took a deserved 35th minute lead.
The Nailers were boosted when Steve Roome passed a late fitness test on his shoulder injury, but Ross Mays had to step down which gave Dean Smith the opportunity to claim back his place after a spell out of the squad.
Holbeach lost their first game in midweek to Bourne Town, but otherwise they had made an excellent start to the season and were understandably confident.
Ian Dunn almost caught the Belper defence cold in the 1st minute but fortunately he was adjudged to be off side, then Belper suffered an early blow when Craig Smith had to leave the field in the 8th minute after sustaining an ankle injury and Karl Payne came on in his place.
Belper created their first opportunity in the 11th minute after Brendan Morgan got the better of Angus Hepburn and found Carl Cunningham with a good cross to the edge of the penalty area.
Cunningham had time to place his header but sent it straight at Martin Bunce.
Mark Wood went close in the 17th minute when Ritchie Butler s free kick dropped at his feet, but he couldn t bend his shot sufficiently around Bunce and the ball went the wrong side of the post.
Cunningham was in a good position again in the 20th minute after Wood s long ball down the centre cut out the Holbeach defenders, but although he moved inside to make the space he totally mis-kicked and the ball rolled to Bunce.
Holbeach lived up to their nickname and fought like tigers to get in the game, and they enjoyed a 15 minute spell of pressure - their best of the game.
Darren Eadie ran clear on 22 minutes but pulled his shot wide of the far post, while Ian Dunn saw his header from Steve Barnes free kick cleared off the line by Craig Smithurst.
Holbeach were rewarded for their endeavours in the 32nd minute when defender ANDY GRAY moved up to send a powerful header past the unsighted Steve Roome from a right wing corner.
The Tigers lead was deserved but it was sufficient to motivate Belper into better things.
Within five minutes the Nailers had equalised after a great run by Steve Kennedy saw him release the ball to Craig Weston.Weston s helped the ball on to CRAIG SMITHURST who athletically nipped around Bunce to score from a narrow angle.
The goal clearly unsettled Holbeach who found themselves on the defensive and allowing Belper too much space.
Deep into first half injury time Brendan Morgan slipped the ball through to the totally unmarked KARL PAYNE and he took the ball past the 'keeper to score.
An early goal in the second half was the Nailers priority after the break and barely a minute after Butler s 55th minute free-kick had zipped past the post, Belper got the goal they needed.
CARL CUNNINGHAM latched on to Karl Payne s ball over the top, and Belper s top scorer turned to hit his 10th goal of the season and give the Nailers some breathing space.
At this point they looked capable of getting more goals, but Holbeach hardened their resolve and stepped their efforts up a gear.
However, the Nailers never looked in serious danger of relinquishing their lead, and Craig Smithurst might even have nicked a fourth with 10 minutes to go.
Holbeach United: Bunce, Cundy, Hepburn, Maddison (McGrath 65), Wapples, Gray, Leach (Timbey), Barnes S, Eadie, Dunn (Baines), Barnes P.Other sub: Madigen
Belper Town: Roome, Green, Butler, Kennedy, Wood, Smithurst, Morgan (Turner 75), Weston, Cunningham, Smith C Payne 8), Smith D (Allsop 86).Other subs: Gummer, Lawson.
Referee: D Plowright (Mansfield)