Belper Town staged an impressive comeback after falling two goals behind at the Forest Town Stadium, stunning one of the division’s new clubs with a stirring second half display that was a credit to management and team.
After some faltering displays in the early part of the season, the Nailers are now showing the consistency to compliment the talent in Grant Black’s squad as they ran out 3-2 winners over AFC Mansfield.
Craig Nelthorpe was unavailable for this one and Tyler Johal retained his place after coming on as a substitute at Pickering, but otherwise the team was the same.
The first 25 minutes didn’t go to plan as the hosts took the game to the Nailers straight from the off and former Nailer Kieran Wells went close with a header after only two minutes.
The Bulls’ striker put AFC Mansfield ahead by being in the right place to hook the ball into the net after a cross from the right fell kindly for him, then things looked bleak for the Nailers on 24 minutes when Kieran Wells bagged his second of the night when he pounced on a loose ball after James Leverton had parried.
Belper managed to throw off the disappointment by slowly increasing their possession of the ball and finding that the Bulls’ defence wasn’t quite as watertight as they might have feared.
George Milner tested Jason White for the first time with a crisp shot from 20 yards, and Milner’s effort was the catalyst for a much improved Belper display.
Nathan Curtis was the inspiration for Belper’s goal in the 42nd minute after some great approach play leading to a shot that the ‘keeper could only push out to Alex Peterson, who gratefully tapped the ball home.
Belper could have levelled the scores on the stroke of half time after Nathan Curtis managed to get the ball over from the left, and Alex Peterson headed a difficult chance over the bar.
The seed of doubt had been put into the hosts minds, as the Nailers went on to dominate the second period.
They applied considerable pressure right from the whistle with Derry Robson, George Milner twice, and Piteu Crouz all testing the ‘keeper after excellent approach play down both flanks.
Crouz’s effort had come back off the foot off the post and further boosted Belper’s conviction that an equaliser would soon arrive.
The wait was over on 74 minutes when Nathan Curtis managed to get a touch to the ball following a corner kick and there was much relief from the Belper contingent who now firmly believed that a winner would follow.
The ball went into the AFC Mansfield net after a six yard box skirmish in the 89th minute, but the referee’s assistant’s flag ruled it out, much to the annoyance of Nailers’ skipper Alex Peterson who received a straight red card for his trouble.
The sending off didn’t deter Belper from looking for a winner and deep into added on time George Milner split the Bulls’ defence with a perfect pass for Piteu Crouz, and he ran through to roll the ball into the corner of the net, and was greeted with rapturous applause and celebrations from players and supporters alike.
This was a fantastic result for Belper who now appear to have found their rhythm and confidence, over the last three games, and supporters wait in anticipation of the visit of Marske on Saturday.
AFC Mansfield: White, Marsden, Yeomans, Diaryea, Broadhead, Annable, Ghaichem, Lindley (Buxton 55), Guest (Karckack 58), Wells K, Wells B. (Daniels 79) Unused subs: Dudley, Burton.
Belper Town. Leverton, Lucas, Clark, Robson, South, Assenso, Curtis, Gordon (Sturgess 90), Peterson , Milner, Johal (Crouz 40). Unused subs: Paylor, Esmaelly.
Referee: Matthew Tyers.