First Division South
Belper Town 1 Sutton Coldfield Town 2
BELPER Town slumped to yet another home defeat last Tuesday evening after conceding a goal in the fifth minute of added on time and once again basic defensive errors cost proved very costly.
Belper Town fielded an unchanged side for this home fixture against Sutton Coldfield Town, and while the Nailers were looking to reverse a run of four home defeats, their visitors had gone ten games without a win.
It was a fairly low key start to the game with Sutton winning a corner kick from an ambitious Lee Parsons shot in the 3rd minute, but the visitors shook Belper by taking the lead in the 8th minute when Zac Costello turned on the edge of the penalty area and threaded a shot through a host of players just inside the post.
The Nailers struggled to get themselves back into the game and found it difficult to find any rhythm in their play and it was Sutton who had settled the better.
Belper came close to an equaliser in the 25th minute after some close footwork from Jon Froggatt set up Colin Marrison who put over a great cross that eluded three Belper players on the edge of the six yard box.
Greg Wright had a shot well saved soon afterwards as the Nailers began to liven up considerably and Belper forced a series of corner kicks that unfortunately didn’t yield an opportunity.
Then Sutton has a spell of their own where the Nailers were forced to defend four or five crosses before they could get the ball up field and into the opposition’s half again.
Belper came close to scoring in the 43rd minute when Jon Froggatt laid the ball out to Charlie Weir who set himself up for a shot on goal but Nial Cooper preserved Sutton’s lead with a fine block.
Lee Parsons nearly punished the Nailers for going too far up field in added on time but not for the first time this season Andy Richmond came out to save the situation with an excellent block.
The Nailers began the second period purposefully and should have equalised in the 49th minute when Ashley Longstaff nudged the ball into the path of Colin Marrison who got past the ‘keeper, but he didn’t put enough power into his shot and the ball was cleared off the line.
Ben Leonard sent a header from a 60th minute corner kick goal bound but Nial Cooper plucked the ball out of the air at the near post, then Ashley Longstaff headed just wide from and Andy Rushbury cross from the right.
The Nailers were having the lion’s share of possession at this stage but couldn’t find that all important opening and Sutton, searching for their first win in ten must have been thinking that their luck was beginning to change as the game entered the final 15 minutes.
Alan O’Hare was on hand to make a vital clearance off the line in the 78th minute when the Nailers were caught short handed at the back, and Dean Rathbone struck a hard shot from 15 yards.
Scott Ellis brought the best out of the Sutton ‘keeper with a shot to the near post on 81 minutes, and moments later some great work from Jon Froggatt resulted in a perfect cross for Ben Leonard, but he headed wide of the target.
In the 86th minute the Nailers were rewarded for their efforts when Nial Cooper couldn’t hand on to a cross into the box and after a scramble, Colin Marrison volleyed the ball high into the net for a deserved equaliser.
Scott Ellis fired into the side netting as the Nailers pushed for a clincher but it was the visitors who had the final say when Dean Rathbone fired in the winner from close range after Belper failed to clear the ball in the fifth minute of added time.
There was still a last gasp opportunity for Belper before the final whistle but Andy Rushbury’s free kick bounced off the upright, and the Nailers were left pondering the fifth consecutive home defeat.
Belper Town: Richmond, Pride, Wright, Meikle, Adams (Rushbury 62), O’Hare, Marrison, Leonard, Froggatt, Longstaff, Weir (Turner J 77). Unused subs: Smith, Turner T.
Sutton Coldfield Town: Cooper, Heath, Chapman, Jones, Costello, Lycett (Dodd N 86), Dodd M, Parsons, Marshall, Sheldon (Quiggin 67), Butlin (Rathbone 54)
Referee: Duncan Carratt (Maltby)
Match sponsor: Alley Barbers, Belper.