Belper Town 4
Halesowen Town 1
A devastating three-minute spell in the first half was enough to set Belper Town on the road to all three points against Halesowen Town on Saturday.
The Nailers welcomed Colin Marrison and Karl Colley back into the starting line-up after both players had served one game suspensions, while Shaun Tuton returned after being unavailable for last Saturday’s visit to Stamford.
Former striker Darryl Thomas made a surprise return to Christchurch Meadow following his signing on a permanent basis from Ilkeston FC last week, and he resumed his Nailers’ career on the substitute’s bench.
Halesowen were making their first ever visit to the ‘Meadow’ and they were sitting just above the Nailers in the league table in seventh place.
Shaun Tuton’s shot on the turn in the third minute took a deflection for a corner kick and then the Nailers suffered an anxious moment when Jean-Michel Gueyes ran into the penalty area and fell under a challenge, but the referee didn’t see an infringement.
There was another scare for Belper in the ninth minute when Narveed Arshad nudged the ball into the path of Jean-Michel Gueyes but fortunately he snatched at the opportunity and put the ball over the top and then Ben Haseley looked to have carved out another chance in the 12th minute but Karl Colley and Shaun Roulston managed to clear the danger between them.
Belper’s first opportunity came on 17 minutes when Mark Ward let the ball run past him for Steve Warne to run on to, however Paul Evans came out very quickly to deny the Belper skipper.
The Nailers produced another good move on 20 minutes with Mark Ward’s back heel and Aaron Chapman’s cross being headed just wide by Shaun Tuton, and Belper looked to be warming to the task.
The Nailers took the lead on 22 minutes following a great interception and pass over the Halesowen defence by Karl Colley.
Shaun Tuton took full advantage of the opportunity with a perfect lob over the advancing ‘keeper to give Belper the lead that their play in the previous 15 minutes or so had deserved.
Shaun Tuton nearly bagged another in the 31st minute when he rose to head a Colin Marrison cross just past the upright, however more excellent football involving a five-man move ended with Steve Warne running through, and this time he supplied a cultured finish with a shot into the far corner.
The Nailers were three goals up on 34 minutes when Mark Ward’s initial shot was parried by Paul Evans and Richard Stirrup drilled the rebound into the back of the net.
Belper were celebrating again moments later when Colin Marrison’s pass found Mark Ward who thoughtfully laid the ball into the path of Richard Stirrup who fired home his second goal in less than a minute.
Shaun Roulston glanced a Simon Harrison free kick over the bar just before the half time whistle and the Nailers could look back on a very satisfactory first 45 minutes.
The visitors made a lively start to the second half and won a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area but Tom Warmer’s effort didn’t get further than the defensive wall.
Jean Michel Gueyes put over a teasing cross that only needed a touch to convert into a goal seconds later, but Belper’s Shaun Tuton hit an angled shot past the far post after Mark Ward’s subtle header put him through.
Good one-touch football from Belper, fast becoming a trade mark in this game, ended disappointingly with an over hit cross from Mark Ward, and the Nailers had resisted Halesowen’s attempts at a comeback in the early stages of the second half.
Halesowen created a rare opportunity on 67 minutes when the ball reached Jean- Michel Gueyes but his effort from just inside the penalty area was always going over the bar.
Simon Harrison turned well in the box and sent a curling effort drifting just wide, and then in the 77th minute there was a goal mouth scramble after Aaron Pride’s cross came in from the right.
Halesowen reduced the arrears on 80 minutes when Naveed Arshad scored from close range and as the Nailers started to make heavy weather of it, Aaron Chapman made a superb save from Nathaniel Caines’ free kick, however there was no doubt that Belper would hang on for a comfortable victory.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride, Wright, Stirrup, Roulston, Colley, Harrison, Warne, Ward (Thomas 78), Tuton (Froggatt 82), Marrison, Unused subs: Rushbury, Owen, Ratcliffe.
Halesowen Town: Evans, Bowen, Caines, Botfield (Steane 82), Winsper, Hull, Warmer, Milligan (Lester 76), Arshad (Evans 82), Haseley, Gueyes. Unused subs: Flower.
Referee: Geoff Law (Leicester).
Photo by Tim Harrison