Fine Belper win is worth the wait

Belper Town 3

Lincoln United 0

It has been two months and nine league games in coming, but the Nailers celebrated their first league success of the season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lincoln United on Tuesday.

Manager Peter Duffield brought in long serving Andy Rushbury for his first start since the beginning of September in place of Ryan Mallon, who wasn’t named in the squad.

Mark Ward was selected ahead of Andrew Siribour, who dropped to the bench, and Jared Stephens, signed from Sheffield FC this week, began his Belper Town career as a substitute.

Lincoln United, who had been propping up the league table for most of the season had enjoyed back-to-back victories in the previous week and had leapfrogged the Nailers in the process.

After early possession by Lincoln, the Nailers put pressure on the visitors and came close on a couple of occasions following good crosses from both flanks.

However, in the eighth minute, Chris Funnell ran 30 yards before hitting a tame shot at David Ratcliffe, who saved comfortably.

A lazy header from Michael Simpkins ended with David Coyde firing well wide from just inside the penalty area, and then the Nailers were exposed again when Scott Coupland turned and thumped a hard shot into the side netting.

Simon Harrison worked his way into a shooting opportunity on 15 minutes but put his effort wide of the near post, then in the 22nd minute Shaun Tuton showed clever footwork on the edge of the area but his shot didn’t have the pace to trouble Phil McGann.

Mark Ward struck a great shot against the crossbar from 22 yards as the Nailers stepped up the pace, then the same player deflected Shaun Tuton’s cross against the upright seconds later.

The referee’s assistant’s flag came to Belper’s rescue when Chris Funnell ran through to lob David Ratcliffe, but this attempt was very much against the flow of the game.

The Nailers won a free kick a yard outside the penalty area in the 36th minute but Mark Ward lifted the ball disappointingly over the crossbar.

Simon Harrison tried to catch the ‘keeper out with a hook shot over his shoulder in the 41st minute, but the ball went wide and although the Nailers had worked hard enough, the first goal was proving elusive.

Lincoln nearly opened the scoring early in the second period when Scott Coupland hit a shot from 15 yards that David Ratcliffe did well to parry.

The visitors looked the stronger of the two teams in the first 15 minutes of the half and the Nailers were trying hard to stamp their authority on the game.

Belper won a penalty in the 59th minute when Shaun Tuton was tripped by David Coyde as his pace took him into the penalty area. However, Colin Marrison needed two attempts at converting the spot kick because, after his initial effort was saved, he managed to get the ball over the line from the rebound.

Belper were able to relax a little in the 64th minute when Mark Ward kept a cool head after running on to a pass over the top from defence and he took the ball around Phil McGann and finished with ease.

Shaun Tuton’s energy earned him an opportunity from a tight angle in the 70th minute but he fired wide of the far post, and he was proving to be quite a handful for the Lincoln defenders.

David Ratcliffe prevented Lincoln from reducing the arrears when he came out bravely to block Terry Fleming’s angled drive on 76 minutes.

The visitors were down to ten men in the 85th minute when Joe Butler, who had only been on the field for five minutes, received a straight red card for an over-zealous challenge on Aaron Pride.

Simon Harrison confirmed Belper’s first league victory of the season when he lifted a close-range shot high into the net in the final minute of normal time and in doing so they moved off the bottom of the league table.

Belper Town: Ratcliffe, Pride, Wright G, Marrison, Adams, Simpkins, Harrison, Warne, Ward (Stephens 74), Tuton (Siribour 84), Rushbury. Unused subs: Stirrup, Ozmen, Chapman.

Lincoln United: McGann, Fleming, Coyde (Butler 80), Bull, McDaid, Wright S, Hone, Zuerner, Hempenstall, Funnell (Garrick 81), Coupland. Unused subs: Cowan, Sharpe.

Referee: Les Sinclair (Newcastle under Lyme)

Att: 106

Match Sponsor: Belper Town Juniors

Man of the Match: Simon Harrison