Belper Town must try again in FA Cup after goalless draw with Witton Albion

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Belper Town must try again in the FA Cup after a 0-0 stalemate against Witton Albion at the Raygar Stadium.

It means that the two clubs will replay at Wincham Park on Tuesday evening.

The Nailers fielded an unchanged line-up from the one that won at Worksop a week earlier, while Premier Division Witton arrived having won their previous three games without having conceded a goal.

The tie attracted Belper best crowd since the visit of FC United of Manchester in February 2015 and although they didn’t witness a Nailers victory, they couldn’t have failed to be impressed with the way Grant Black’s men competed on equal terms against a team from a higher level.

The Nailers arguably played better football that they did against Alvechurch in the previous round but couldn’t convert possession and opportunities into goals.

After a tentative start to the tie Albion had the first opportunity after 6 minutes when Phil Watt fouled Witton striker Will Jones on the edge of the area. Watt’s challenge looked innocuous enough but Jones was forced to leave the field 10 minutes later.

James Short’s well struck free kick didn’t get further than the defensive wall.

Short spurned another shooting opportunity soon afterwards when he hit a wild shot well wide.

Nathan Curtis was the catalyst for Belper’s first effort, and with his back to the goal, he laid the ball into the path of Alex Peterson whose first time shot went just wide.

Riece Bertram despatched an overhead kick direct from a throw in on 18 minutes, and now the Nailers were warming to the task as Charlie Dawes cut inside to hit a wayward effort well wide.

Dawes was soon in possession again after a long clearance sent him on his way and this time a much more accurate shot was deflected for a corner kick by an Albion defender.

The Nailers caused problems again for the visitors with a goal mouth scramble that saw a Danny South close range effort was kicked off the line.

The Nailers continued to push Albion back into their own half and the Nailers were again unlucky not to have scored after Curtis provide Dawes with another opportunity to cross the ball, and Peterson directed a good header on target that Chris Renshaw held.

Albion turned the tables after the break and held the upper hand for 15 minutes, and it was Belper’s turn to soak up pressure.

Danny McKenna skipped past Danny South in the 48th minute and saw his cross turned over the bar by Tom Owens, and Albion had their best chance of the game in the 58th minute when Billy Smart found a gap in the Belper back line and watched his chip shot curl past the far post.

The Nailers emerged as an attacking force again when Phil Watt put a header from a corner on top of the goal net on 58 minutes after which both teams enjoyed equal possession without looking particularly dangerous.

Nathan Curtis had the ball in the net on 73 minutes but the referee’s assistant’s flag had long since been raised for an offside offence.

Belper appeared to have a decent penalty shout 10 minutes later when Curtis fell under a challenge inside the 18 yard area but the referee was unmoved, and then as the Nailers upped the ante in the latter stages, George Milner put a good effort over the top.

Danny South concluded Belper’s attacking input in the 87th minute with a volley over the cross bar and there was little to suggest in the closing minutes that either side could conjure up a winner.

It is a testament to the Belper team that there was a little disappointment that they couldn’t have won this tie at the first time of asking, however the Nailers are a force to be reckoned with away from their own patch, and the replay should be a cracker.

Belper Town: Musselwhite, Bryant, Clark, Bertram (Waldram 64), South, Watt, Robson, Nelthorpe (Milner 77), Peterson, Dawes (Gordon 57), Curtis, Unused subs: Wright, Ridley, Kozluk, Thompson.

Witton Albion: Renshaw, Byrne, Short, Wardle, Anson, Goulding, McKenna, Smart, Lingouba, Jones (Owens 16), Murray (Foley 75). Unused subs: O’Hare, Sorensen, Neild.

Referee: Daniel Robinson