Belper Town hit their stride in time for season opener at Market Drayton

Belper boss Grant Black
Belper boss Grant Black

Belper Town are hitting their stride at the right time going into the season opener at Market Drayton Town on Saturday.

The Nailers head into the 2019/20 BetVictor NPL South-East campaign following three matches against tough opposition to end their summer schedule.

Mickleover Sports and Basford United, both from the league above, have visited the Raygar Stadium in recent weeks as preparations have intensified.

And the pre-season calendar came to a close on Friday night with a trip to NPL North-West opponents Brighouse Town, which resulted in a 2-1 victory.

No points on the board this time but manager Grant Black was pleased with what he described as “pretty much the perfect performance” from his side.

“Pre-season is always long,” he told the Belper News. “We’ve been very careful in what we’ve done this pre-season.

“Some teams get big clubs down and it’s brilliant financially but can be quite false when you’re playing the academy teams.

“We didn’t want to do that. We wanted our lads to get used to playing physical teams.

“The last three games we were up against tough opposition to see where we were at and the last three performances have shown we’re where we want to be.

“We feel really confident after those three games.”

The win at Brighouse saw goals from Danny South and Steve McDonnell, with Tom Robinson pulling one back for the hosts.

Black said: “We got everything that we were looking for from the last pre-season game on Friday.

“Everything we’d been working on over pre-season we saw regarding formation, shape and set pieces.

“You don’t always see everything but on Friday we did, so that was really pleasing.

“We can see it coming together and we’ll be ready for Market Drayton.”

There are big decisions to be made before then, said Black, as the management team look to trim the squad to 16 for the curtain-raiser in Shropshire.

“We probably know our starting XI at this moment in time,” said the Nailers boss.

“We’ll train tomorrow [Tuesday] and work on some things we have on Market Drayton.

“As long as no injuries are picked up tomorrow night then I think we’ve got our starting XI.

“But players know that if they do take their foot off the gas then there’ll be someone else to come in who is just as good.

“That’s why we’re looking so sharp.

“Players will look at the bench and think they can’t make a mistake and it’s helping to keep everyone on their toes.

“The toughest job for us now is getting down to 16 players. We’ve got 19 players who could all be in that squad for Saturday.

“We’ve got to upset a couple - that’s the toughest part of the job - cutting it down to 16 is going to be difficult.

“We’ll sit down, talk about how we can win the game on Saturday and have a good chat about the 16 we think we need.”