10-men Belper Town give three debuts in away win

Ryan Musselwhite saved a Belper.  PHOTO: Tim Harrison
Ryan Musselwhite saved a Belper. PHOTO: Tim Harrison

Belper Town’s resilience and never-say-die attitude was rewarded with a 3-1 victory at Spalding United, despite playing the last 30 minutes with 10 men and surviving a penalty scare.

The Nailers included three new signings from the outset with Corey Gregory, Ben Guy, and James Carvell going straight into the starting line-up, while Steve Ridley was preferred to Cameron Clarke at left back.

Spalding are formidable opposition this season as a recent 2-2 draw at the Raygar Stadium had demonstrated.

However, the Nailers are a different proposition on their travels and not for the first time this season forced a win against all the odds. Belper made a flying start with James Carvell registering his first strike for Belper after only 10 minutes with a well-taken goal from 15 yards, after the pacey winger got to the ball ahead of Spalding defenders to fire it home.

With the hosts on their heels in this opening segment of the game they conceded again two minutes later when Phil Watt nudged the ball wide of the keeper from a corner.

Jamie Jackson registered the Tulips’ first shot on target in the 20th minute although Ryan Musselwhite had the ball safely in his sights. James Carvell brought a good save out from Michael Duggan on 23 minutes with a crisply taken free kick; however the hosts had by now recovered their composure and were causing increasing problems for the Nailers’ back line.

When Spalding pulled a goal back with a well directed shot from Gianluca Bucci on the half hour mark, the initiative was now with the Tulips who made life difficult for the Nailers in the remaining 15 minutes of the half. Tobias Liversedge went close with a fine volley that clattered the crossbar in added on time and then Kegan Everington forced Musselwhite into a fine save from a free kick from just outside the penalty area.

Before the second half was two minutes old Spalding were awarded a penalty when the referee spotted an infringement that was hotly contested by the Nailers. Jamie Jackson stepped up to take the spot kick, but Ryan Musselwhite guessed correctly and saved it comfortably.

The Nailers had survived the penalty set back but on the hour mark were plunged into controversy when Sam Wright’s challenge in midfield earned him a second yellow and subsequently a red, leaving Belper to fight on with 10 men.

Phil Watt’s first-time effort in the 62nd minute after Danny South’s header had set him up went over the cross bar, and with the introduction of Riece Bertram, Derry Robson and George Milner Belper had much more presence in midfield, which disrupted the momentum that the hosts had gathered in the first half.

In fact Belper’s 10 men gradually grasped back the initiative and Alex Peterson might have scored when he got to the ball before Michael Duggan, but couldn’t get enough contact.

Not only was Belper’s one goal lead looking secure as the game entered the final stages, they were able to confirm victory on 81 minutes when Danny South’s reverse pass into the penalty area was stroked home by the unmarked Phil Watt for his second of the game.

The Nailers have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, particular away from home this season, and it doesn’t seem to matter what is thrown at them, because they always find a way to succeed.

Spalding United: Duggan, Floyd, Hugo, Bucci, Richards (Ramsden 86), Yeomans, Bastos, Everington, Smith (Burrell 76), Liversedge (Couzens 70), Jackson. Unused subs: Smith A.

Belper Town: Musselwhite, Bryant, Ridley, Wright, South, Watt, Gregory, Guy (Bertram 50), Peterson, Curtis (Robson 69), Carvell (Milner 58). Unused subs: Gordon, Clark.

Referee: David Jones.

Att: 144.