Graves confident Belper Town can challenge for promotion

Belper's Eric Graves feels his side can challenge for promotion. Pic by: Richard Parkes
Belper's Eric Graves feels his side can challenge for promotion. Pic by: Richard Parkes

Belper Town skipper Eric Graves remains confident the Nailers can challenge for a promotion spot – despite his side sitting 14th in the Evo-Stik Division One South standings.

Such is the tight nature of the division, Belper are just ten points behind current fifth-placed side Leek Town with a game in hand, Charlie Palmer’s men also having played fewer games than many other sides currently challenging to go up.

And with relegation highly unlikely given Belper’s form and the gap in points between themselves and the bottom two, Graves is very much looking upwards rather than down when it comes to the league table, although acknowledges work needs to be done.

He said: “It’s certainly the case that we’re always aiming higher but in my opinion there are a few things that need to happen before we can really consider ourselves contenders.

“We’ve not been good enough in recent weeks even though the squad is certainly capable of achieving better things.

“We’re conceding too many late goals and if you add up all the points dropped as a result of doing that, with them we’d be in the top five.

“So when we get ahead in games, which we often do, we need to build on it and kill teams off, then we’ll have a much better chance.”

On recent form, Graves echoed manager Palmer’s comments that more goals are required to complement Belper’s good defensive record.

He said: “As Evan Garnett gets back to full fitness he’ll be a huge asset but we also need more goals to come from throughout the team. That’s the hallmark of a successful side and could be the difference.

“We go ahead in games and then miss a lot of chances to go two or three up so finding a way of converting those into goals will be crucial.”

Having been out of action last weekend, and having not played since January 10, Belper return to the pitch on Saturday when they travel to face Stamford in a match rearranged at short notice. Four days later, the Nailers will head to league leaders Shaw Lane.