Belper Town 1 Newcastle Town 1
Belper Town succumbed to a very late equaliser after failing to finish off a resilient Newcastle side that will feel they deserved to get something from the game.
The Nailers retained the same starting line-up that won so impressively at Lincoln United the previous week, although there was one change on the bench with Colin Marrison included after serving a three-game suspension.
Newcastle Town arrived at Christchurch Meadow positioned in the bottom half of the table.
Tom France registered the first effort on goal in the fourth minute when he turned to hit a shot from the edge of the penalty area, but it was way off target.
The visitors looked lively in the opening exchanges but the Nailers had a spell of pressure after ten minutes and Simon Harrison forced Dave Parton into a one-handed save from a free kick on 12 minutes.
Steve Warne had a goalbound effort deflected away after 16 minutes but, despite the pressure on the Newcastle goal, the Nailers hadn’t looked like breaking the deadlock.
Newcastle nearly caught the Nailers on the break in the 26th minute when Kyle Diskin fed the ball wide to Nathan Sutton and his rising shot was comfortable for Aaron Chapman.
Belper nearly managed to walk the ball through the visiting defence in the 28th minute and found too many bodies in the way, but a minute later Jon Froggatt headed a half chance straight at Dave Parton after Shaun Tuton found him with a short cross.
James Askey hit a volley just wide of the far post on 34 minutes in a rare Castle attack. However, they were keeping tight on the Belper forwards so opportunities at the other end had been few and far between.
Shaun Roulston put a header over from a 43rd minute corner kick although, had he been aware, Jon Froggatt was much better positioned to take the opportunity.
However, the Nailers managed to take the lead on the stroke of half-time after first Shaun Tuton made the space for a shot, and although Dave Parton blocked his effort, Glyn Cotton tucked away the rebound to give Belper a deserved advantage.
Shaun Tuton went close to getting Belper an early second-half goal with a shot that trickled just past the far post seconds from the restart, then on 48 minutes Simon Harrison’s free kick taken from 30 yards, bounced on top of the crossbar.
Newcastle put up a spirited response in the early stages of the half and the Nailers’ needed the comfort of a second goal as soon as they could.
Jay Burgess nearly scored for Newcastle seconds after coming on as a substitute when he glanced a header wide from a 62nd free kick, then Jon Froggatt nudged over a presentable opportunity for Belper five minutes later.
Newcastle’s goal led a charmed life in the 71st minute after they failed to clear a penetrating cross and they were fortunate to get away without conceding after the referee spotted an infringement.
Chris Adam was brought down following a 25-yard run that was terminated just outside the penalty area but Mark Ward’s free-kick sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Kyle Diskin had an opportunity to punish the Nailers in the 80th minute when a cross from the left dropped invitingly but his attempted volley flew high and wide.
Chris Adam tested the alertness of Dave Parton in the 85th minute with a run and shot from 20 yards that the ‘keeper saved, and then Adam turned provider with a cross that Darryl Thomas headed over the bar.
Steve Warne should have sealed it when he ran through on to a Mark Ward pass but he over ran the ball giving possession back to Newcastle, and the Nailers rued the missed opportunity when Newcastle scored a stunning equaliser in added-on time when James Askey hit a swerving shot high into the far corner.
It was definitely a case of two points dropped for Belper, who need to show much more sharpness in front of goal if they are to remain in the play-off zone until the end of the season.
Belper Town: Chapman, Wright, Rushbury, Cotton, Roulston, Adams, Harrison (Ward 68), Warne, Froggatt (Adam 68), Tuton (Thomas 83), Graves. Unused subs: Marrison, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Stuart Eagland (Lichfield)
Match Sponsors: Deb Chemicals
Man of the Match: Eric Graves