Belper Town lost their second successive league game after Cleethorpes Town came from behind to win 2-1 at the Lindon Homes Club ground, writes Nigel Oldrini.
The Nailers were looking to bounce back after their home reverse against Leek Town the previous week and manager Grant Black responded by leaving Kyle Bryant, Steve Ridley, Danny Gordon and Derry Robson on the bench.
Harley Kozluk came in for a rare start at right-back. Riece Bertram and Phil Watt were out because of suspension and injury respectively which meant that Alex Peterson played in defence alongside Danny South.
The Owls came into the game on the back of a 4-1 loss at Worksop and just like Belper, they were keen to get back to winning ways.
Alex Peterson went close with a volley within a minute of kick-off, then as the Nailers enjoyed a good opening spell, Louis Wardle nearly scored the opener with a cracking effort from the edge of the area, however, Owls ‘keeper Theo Richardson just managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.
A cross from Craig Nelthorpe hit the angle of the goal in the 10th minute then Charlie Dawes fired a good opportunity over the top from 15 yards. The hosts had made little impression up to now, and when Nathan Curtis got the final touch to a Nelthorpe cross on 26 minutes to force the ball over the line, the Nailers had high hopes of getting something from the game.
However, Cleethorpes had different ideas and they slowly took over possession of the ball and produced some good passing movement that had the Nailers struggling to cope at times. Curtis Bateson had Cleethorpes’ first direct shot in the 31st minute that Ryan Musselwhite managed to push around the post, however, this was just the precursor to an equalising goal for the hosts when Josh Lacey jumped the highest to power home a header on 32 minutes.
The second half proved to be a tough one for the Nailers who struggled to get out of their half at times. Charlie Dawes sent an overhead kick just over the bar in the 52nd minute, but in truth they found it very difficult to make an impression with the hosts dominating the ball and the play. The Nailers relied on breakaways in their search for a winner and an excellent cross from George Milner only needed a touch from close on 72 minutes.
It all went wrong for Belper in the 84th minute when Harvey Kozluk was penalised for getting in the way of a goal-bound shot, with ball appearing to hit his hand. It was a controversial penalty as far as the Nailers were concerned, and despite various protestations, and the referee speaking to his assistant, the penalty award stood.
Scott Vernon stepped up to take it and he fired the ball past Ryan Musselwhite to give the Owls the lead.
The Nailers tried to up their game and managed to create some promising moments in the Cleethorpes penalty area, but as the game drifted in to added on time, Vernon had a goal-bound effort blocked and a good effort saved by Musselwhite in the dying moments.
It was a disappointing result bearing in mind the way Belper started the game and the situations they created, but they have an opportunity to put things right in the Derbyshire Senior Cup at Long Eaton on Tuesday evening before facing another stern test in Carlton Town this Saturday.
Cleethorpes Town: Richardson, Topliss, Lacey, Marshall, Lowe, Donald, Bateson, Flett, Vernon, Collins (Batty 77), Robertson (Ogelsby 73): Unused subs: Walker, Buckley.
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Kozluk, Clark, Wright (Robson 60), South, Peterson, Nelthorpe (Gordon 65), Wardle, Curtis, Milner, Dawes (Swaine 73). Unused sub: Bryant, Ridley.
Referee: Jack Forder.