Jamie Vardy’s former team deny Belper Town a winning finish

HARD TO BEAT -- goalkeeper Danny Haystead, who kept Belper in the game with some fine saves.
HARD TO BEAT -- goalkeeper Danny Haystead, who kept Belper in the game with some fine saves.

Jamie Vardy’s former club, Stocksbridge Park Steels, prevented Belper Town ending their Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, First Division South season on a high note.

For in a game of two penalties, The Nailers went down 2-1 to a Sheffield outfit who have only just missed out on a place in the promotion play-offs.

It means Charlie Palmer’s men have finished 13th in the 22-team table with 15 wins, nine draws and 18 losses and a goal difference of for 66, against 65.

In front of a crowd of 171 at the Look Local Stadium, there was no-one on view of the quality of England and Leicester City striker Vardy, who played for Stocksbridge as a youngster.

And Belper were up against it from the off as they fell behind after only six minutes. Goalkeeper Danny Haystead did well to save the initial effort from Scott Ruthven, but could do nothing to stop Rory Coleman converting an open goal with the follow-up.

Things would have been worse but for a trio of impressive saves by Haystead in the first period. Twice he denied Ruthven in one-on-ones, blocking with his feet and tipping over a powerful drive, and then he produced a phenomenal stop to keep out Liam McFadyen from a corner, clawing the ball to safety.

Stocksbridge had even more chances to put the game to bed, but Belper survived to equalise 14 minutes into the second half when captain Eric Graves was fouled by Stocksbridge ‘keeper David Reay and Alex Steadman converted the resulting spot-kick.

In response, the home side won it with a penalty of their own in the 72nd minute when substitute Keegan Burton was felled in the box by Nailers’ full-back Louis Keenan, allowing Coleman to calmly convert.

Belper battled hard for an equaliser and twice went close through midfielder Jonathan Williams after he had taken the skipper’s armband from injured player-of-the-year Graves. First Williams headed over after he had been released by substitute Brad Wells on a counter-attack, and then he got on the end of a cross by Michael Armstrong only to see his diving header fly over the bar.

BELPER TOWN LINE-UP -- Haystead/ Allen, Keenan, Armstrong, Parker, Watt, Stevenson, Graves (Bryant 74), Watkis (Wells 66), Williams, Steadman. SUBS NOT USED: Palmer, Constable, Mansfield.