Grant Black hopes FA Cup fever grips Belper for Nailers’ clash with Rushall Olympic

Grant Black leads the applause for Belper's supporters after Saturday's win over Stocksbridge Park Steels. Pic by Tim Harrison.
Grant Black leads the applause for Belper's supporters after Saturday's win over Stocksbridge Park Steels. Pic by Tim Harrison.

FA Cup fever will grip the town again on Saturday as the in-form Nailers take on Rushall Olympic in the third qualifying round of the prestigious competition.

Belper, who have already seen off higher league opposition in Alvechurch and Witton Albion in previous rounds, possibly face their toughest test yet in Rushall.

Free-scoring Olympic are flying high at the top of the BetVictor Southern League Premier Central, one rung up on the non-League ladder to the Nailers’ division.

But Grant Black’s Belper side remain unbeaten so far this season and have recorded six clean sheets in all competitions to date, including three in the last week.

And the Nailers boss is relishing the challenge that awaits.

“All the reports we’ve had show they’re very good going forward - that’s their biggest strength,” said Black.

“Defensively we’ve been solid recently so it’ll be a good gauge to see where we’re at.

“It’s another game where we’ll respect them in the same way we respected Witton and everyone else in previous rounds.

“If we play to our potential then I think we can beat most teams.”

He added: “It’ll be a great game and we hope the town comes out and supports us again.

“We had over 500 turn out in the previous round [against Witton] and we would like to go above 600 for this one.

“It makes a massive difference and I think the fans are enjoying it because we took a good turnout to Witton [for the replay] as well.

“Hopefully FA Cup fever takes over the town this week and everyone will come down to support us.”

An early goal from Danny Gordon gave Belper all three points in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Stocksbridge Park Steels, which followed the midweek cup replay win over Witton.

Black said: “They came into it with only one defeat in seven so they were full of beans and playing well.

“And on top of that, we were going into it off the back of Tuesday’s cup game at Witton. It was a tough game, which went to extra-time and was a two-and-a-half-hour journey back.

“It took its toll and we knew we were never going to be at our best on Saturday - it would have been impossible.

“Luckily we got off to a good start and then as the game went on you could tell we were getting tired but we saw it out.

“To go through that and still be putting bodies on the line was very pleasing.”

And he reserved special praise for the team’s defensive resolve.

“It’s what all good teams are built on,” said Black. “If you keep clean sheets then you’ve got a chance and I always fancy us to score in each game.

“We had a new ‘keeper at the start of the season, a new right-back, new centre-half - so it was always going to take time to gel but people can see the quality is there.

“There is a solidness about the ‘keeper and the back four but as a team, we have a formation that defends very well when we lose possession and the lads are used to it.”

Belper’s progress in the FA Cup meant Tuesday’s scheduled trip to Spalding United has been postponed.

Black added: “The league offered us the chance again to postpone Tuesday’s game, so teams can prepare as best as they can for Saturday [FA Cup].

“It’s a welcome rest because it would have been a long journey to Spalding and another tough game in tough conditions and it wouldn’t have helped us for the weekend.

“But that’s out of the way for the time being, we can train this week and prepare the best we can for Saturday.”