Belper chief slams his side’s set-piece defending

Paul Postlethwaite, Belper United ''Photo by Terry Fletcher
Paul Postlethwaite, Belper United ''Photo by Terry Fletcher

Belper United narrowly missed out on becoming the first team to deny Mickleover Royals all three points, after a last-gasp 4-3 defeat at home on Saturday.

Paul Postlethwaite’s side had led twice against the 100% table-topping Royals, but fell victim to a late sucker-punch.

The manager was particularly unhappy about his side’s defending, and insists that their failure to deal with set-pieces proved costly against the Black Dragon Division South leaders.

He said: “I was very disappointed to not take anything from this match.

“Both sides weren’t quite at their best today after the heroics of last week’s FA Vase victories.

“But the neutrals in the crowd enjoyed an exciting game of football.

“The biggest disappointment was the fact that we conceded far too easily from four set pieces.

“The whole team, including the players who made themselves unavailable for this game, have to take the blame for that.

“It is still a work in progress and we will pick ourselves up and go again next week.”

United made seven changes to the side who defeated Quorn six days prior in the historic FA Vase triumph.

Scott Whittington, Shaun Roulston and Adam Robley were unavailable, Ryan Wheatcroft and Luke Crosby were injured and Adam Moss was starting a lengthy suspension.

The first 10 minutes started very brightly, with Sam Vickers seeing a shot tipped onto the post after six minutes.

The Royals then crashed a free-kick against the Belper crossbar in their first warning shot of the match.

The game settled down after that before Belper took the lead, somewhat against the run of play.

A quick break saw Vickers pick the ball up on the half-way line and go past three players before hitting a shot which completely flat-footed the ‘keeper and found the back of the net.

The lead didn’t last long however.

10 minutes later Royals hit back when a Joe Brockley free-kick on the edge of the area curled into the corner.

With United still in disarray, Olly Buxton then got up to head home from a corner as Mickleover turned it around just before the interval.

The second half started evenly before United got a contentious equaliser after 54 minutes.

A brilliant Vickers run saw him feed a ball goalwards, and an almighty scramble resulted in the ball appearing to be handled over the line by Gary Conway but the referee saw nothing wrong and awarded the goal - much to Mickleover’s dismay.

The game was now becoming end-to-end and on 70 minutes United took the lead again with arguably the best strike of the day.

Substitute Louis Mundin slung in a great cross from the right for Tristan Spencer to flick on to Conway, who slotted home from inside the six-yard box with aplomb.

The lead lasted 10 minutes when another poorly defended set-piece saw Olly Buxton free in the six-yard box and he scrambled home his second of the afternoon to make it 3-3.

Moments later, from an almost identical set-piece, Nash Wilson was left unmarked allowing him to head home the winner and ensure Belper went home without anything to show from their afternoon.

Belper are fourth in the table after 12 games, while Mickleover remain clear by some distance.

This was their tenth victory from as many outings, and they are ten points clear.

Belper: Rathbone, Baxter, Slater, Sparkes, Conkleton, Perry, Poplar, Spencer, Vickers, Dhindsa, Conway

Subs: Mundin, Yates, Summers, Attwater.