Belper Town lifted themselves to the summit of the NPL Academy League with this 5-1 win over a depleted Warrington Town side.
Tom Donlon’s young charges fully merited this victory although they will know that after a scintillating start they allowed the Yellows back into the game and might have been embarrassed if the visitors had been at full strength.
The Nailers got off to a great start, taking the lead after just 4 minutes when Dan Watson’s long range free kick flew straight through the gloves of makeshift ‘keeper Dylan Emery-Woods and into the net.
The lead was doubled three minutes later when indecision in the Warrington defence allowed Josh Bullock to tap in a second goal.
And with 16 minutes on the clock the game was all but won for the Nailers when a great through ball from Tom Rodgers was taken around the ‘keeper by Ethan Camm and finished in fine style.
And it could have been four after 21 minutes when Scott Taylor latched onto a ball played over the top of the defence and squared the ball to Josh Bullock who rattled the foot of the post from just inside the area.
But, the Nailers conceded a goal after 27 minutes when a shrewd through ball found Ewan Woods who dispatched it under Belper ‘keeper Morgan Mighty.
Into the second half and Dan Watson almost added to his tally with a superb shot from 20 yards that rattled the Warrington crossbar following a smart set up from Josh Craddock.
But the Nailers fourth goal duly arrived after 63 minutes when Ethan Camm produced a moment of magic to set up Josh Bullock, whose shot rebounded off the crossbar only for Gianluca Gandola to follow in and knock the ball into the net.
To their credit, Warrington continued to play the ball around as they sought a second goal but they found the Belper defence, superbly marshalled by Sam Weston and Kyle Higton, in outstanding form.
The game became get stretched as players from both sides began to feel their legs on the stamina sapping surface and Tom Donlon introduced a raft of substitutions to restore some energy into his side.
Ewan Woods shot narrowly wide for Warrington with a fine 25-yard strike but Sam Weston finally added a fifth goal for the Nailers after 88 minutes with a glancing header from Josh Craddock’s near post corner.
In the end, this was a fairly comprehensive victory from Belper who dominated the game almost from start to finish and restricted the visitors to shots from distance.
Belper Town: Mighty, Rodgers, Rathband, Watson, Weston, Higton, Gandola, Craddock, Camm, Taylor, Bullock. Subs: Patrick, Webster, Dronfield, Walker, Bradbury, Repton (GK)
Warrington Town: Emery-Woods, Murphy, Woodward, Dunne, Parkinson, Oakley, Webster, Whittle, Woods, McGrath, McQuillan. Subs: Niube, Wilcock
Referee: Kevin Frampton (Chesterfield)