After two consecutive league defeats Belper Town returned to winning ways with a closely-contested 2-1 league victory over Carlton Town.
The visitors had surprisingly set the early pace in the division this season and despite having slipped down the table in recent weeks, they were still a force to be reckoned with and provided a stiff test for the Nailers.
Belper unveiled their new loan signing, a player that needed little in the way of introduction with Evan Garnett going straight into the side following his temporary move away from Stafford Rangers
It was clear from the outset that it was going to be a closely fought affair and although the Nailers had the edge in the first half, Carlton had the better of the second. Nathan Curtis crossed for Alex Peterson to head goal bound, however Jack Steggles palmed his effort away in the 8th minute.
Curtis sent a rising shot over the cross bar soon afterwards and when the Nailers won a free kick in the 16th minute Belper took the lead when Alex Peterson bagged his 10th goal of the season when he turned in Danny Gordon’s cross into the box from six yards out. In the middle of a good spell for the Nailers Riece Bertram saw an 18th minute volley deflected on to the cross bar.
Carlton began to settle into the game and showed how capable they were at playing the ball out of defence with some attractive man to man football. However Belper’s more direct style looked the more likely to pay dividends and from one such attack, Evan Garnett saw his shot deflected away for a corner kick. Belper broke quickly again on the stroke of half time and Evan Garnett put the Nailers in control with a fine solo effort that took him past three defenders before slotting the ball in at the near post.
The second period started slowly with neither side looking likely to create anything in front of goal, but there were signs that the Millers hadn’t yet given up on getting something from the game. Their finishing had been poor however and this was emphasised when Oliver Clark fired over the top in the 53rd minute. Danny Gordon found Alex Peterson with a fine cross on 61 minutes and the Belper striker’s header narrowly missed the upright.
Riece Bertram looked devastated when his 65th minute challenge just inside the penalty box gave the visitors the opportunity they needed to get back into the game. Millers’ skipper Tom Maddison stepped up to fire the spot kick past Ryan Musselwhite and it was game on as far as Carlton were concerned.
George Milner’s introduction added some much needed spark to the Belper attack and his run on 75 minutes looked promising until he ran out of space. There was a skirmish in the Carlton six yard area minutes later but the visitors managed to clear the ball away, and then Milner was instrumental in providing an opportunity for Sam Wright, although unfortunately his shot was deflected away for a corner.
Ryan Musselwhite made a fine save from Niall Davie as the game entered 5 minutes of extra time however Belper’s defence, that had been excellent all afternoon, ensured that they held on to a hard won victory.
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Kozluk, Clark, Gordon (Ridley 80), South, Bertram, Robson, Wright, Peterson, Garnett (Milner 69), Curtis (Dawes 90). Unused subs: Wardle, Bryant.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Robinson (Smithson 66), Fletcher (Akaunu 75), Ball, Moore, Maddison, Baku (Johal 66), Clark O, Opuku, Blake, Davie. Unused sub: Elliott.
Referee: Jacob Lehane.