Belper United went out of the League Cup after a scrappy 2-0 defeat by Hucknall Town in the semi-final.
Apart from two very well taken goals, the semi-final never reached any great heights.
A poor playing surface didn’t help, but it seemed that the tension and a cup final place at stake was in the forefront of players minds and there were two sides who were ultra careful not to make mistakes, which is why defences remained on top.
In a setting of sunshine and showers it was a game of few goalmouth thrills.
Both sides made a frenetic start and the players tore around like headless chickens as the ball bounced everywhere except where it should have done.
Hucknall lost defender Elliott Pitt after just 12 minutes with an ankle injury and there were numerous stoppages for similar injuries during the game.
The first chance fell to Hucknall’s Adam Nelson who beat Scott Whittingham in a race for the ball but Adam Moss cleared as the ball ran away from the striker.
From an enormous high punt into the middle Johnny Hamilton headed wide for Hucknall, and this was followed by Nelson shooting straight at Whittingham.
What few thrills in front of goal were being made came from Hucknall and a cheeky punt from distance from Hamilton sailed only just over the bar.
Nelson had the only other chance of the first half when he again rounded the onrushing Whittingham but over ran the ball.
The understrength Belper outfit had failed to test James Beddington at all in the first half, and were barely more successful in the second as Hucknall dominated most of the exchanges.
His opposite number Whittingham punched out a driven corner and Nelson hit a first time shot over the bar.
The deadlock was finally broken on 56 minutes when, following a cross from the right, neither defenders nor attackers seemed to be able to control the ball and Adam Nelson bravely got his head between flailing boots to put Hucknall ahead, much to the delight of their large contingent of supporters.
Belper had to come out of their shell and for a short time they enjoyed their best spell of the match, but they never threatened Beddington’s goal.
Hucknall might have gone further ahead in the 68th minute when a low corner went straight across the face of the goal with no one able to get a touch.
Eight minutes later the tie was settled once and for all when Aaron Evans headed powerfully home from a corner.
It was the last of the action.
The win earned Hucknall an appearance in the Abacus League Cup Final on Sunday 3rd May at Alfreton Town’s ground (3pm) against Clifton All Whites, who beat Mickleover Royals 3-0 in the other semi-final at Pinxton.
BELPER UNITED: Scott Whittingham, Adam Moss (Jamie Sparkes 76), Gary Conway,Adam Robley, Scott Slater, Joe Conkleton, Tarik Harvey, Ashley Dhindsa, Nick Murray, Louis Mundin, Thomas Curtis (Matt Freeman 76). Substitutes not used – Sam Vickers, George Marshall, Mark Rathbone.
HUCKNALL TOWN: James Beddingham, Joshua Henry, Elliott Pitt (James Rigg 12, Nathan Robinson 90+1), Cameron Davidson, Joe Atkinson, Dave Leak, Aaron Evans, Cayne Maxwell, Adam Nelson, Johnny Hamilton (Montell Gatland 45), Ben Waplington. Substitute not used – Leon Aikman.
REFEREE: Dom Chambers.
YELLOW CARD: Hucknall – Cameron Davidson (90+1).
STAR PERFORMER: Dave Leak (Hucknall Town).