-Stik League NPL Division South
Belper Town 1, Coalville Town 1
by Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town kicked off the new football season with a share of the points against an impressive Coalville team at Christchurch Meadow last Saturday.
On a humid afternoon, the Nailers welcomed back Steve Warne who went straight back into the side after returning from holiday, and with twin strikers Jon Froggatt and Ashley Longstaff unavailable, recently signed Jordan Ball made his debut in the number ten jersey.
Jerome Murdock nearly caught Belper napping in the 2nd minute when he struck a well hit effort just wide of the far post and then 4 minutes later Coalville skipper Cameron Stuart made life awkward for Aaron Chapman with a free kick from the edge of the area that bounced just in front of him.
The Nailers came close in the 16th minute when Jordan Ball tried to turn in a cross from Simon Harrison, and Belper began to settle down after a nervy start.
Ben Leonard hit a swerving shot just wide on 16 minutes, and with the Nailers starting to get into swing Colin Marrison hit a great effort from the edge of the area that Sean Bowles managed to push over the cross bar.
Jordan Ball turned well minutes later to send a low shot just beyond the far post, then the Nailers scored a brilliant goal on 26 minutes when Jordan Ball headed in Simon Harrison’s cross from the right, leaving Sean Bowles rooted to the spot.
Coalville were handed a soft penalty when Dan White tripped Ryan Robbins inside the penalty area on 30 minutes, but Aaron Chapman pulled off a great save to deny Callum Woodward from the penalty spot.
Steve Warne looked to have got himself into a scoring position when he went on a solo run in the 33rd minute, but Liam Kay did well to recover and get a tackle in.
Coalville drew level in the 39th minute when Michael Simpkins and Aaron Chapman were caught in two minds on how to deal with a long clearance, and Jerome Murdock nipped in between them; headed the ball on, and went on to score into an empty goal.
Belper knew that there was plenty of work to do before they could win this game and as the sun came out for the second half, it was going to tough going for everyone.
Ryan Robins worked an opening for Coalville in the opening moments but couldn’t find a finish, and the visitors had the pace to hurt Belper if they were caught too far up field.
Ryan Robbins was there again in the 56th minute after bursting through between Aaron Pride and Dan White, however Aaron Chapman came out and blocked the shot.
The Nailers needed some inspiration at this point and Glyn Cotton was introduced in place of Ben Leonard on the hour mark.
Cotton nearly made an impact within a couple of minutes of coming on when he got to a cross from Mark Ward, and although made a connection with the ball, Sean Bowles managed to get his arm in the way at close range.
A fracas in the Coalville half of the field resulted, after long deliberation by the referee, in a red card for Michael Simpkins and yellow cards Coalville’s Sean Bowles and Danny Davidson.
The Nailers looked stretched again in the 70th minute when Ryan Robbins outpaced the Belper defence only for his shot to hit the outside of the post and was subsequently cleared to safety.
Belper tried to work the ball into the visitor’s penalty area in the 77th minute but were restricted to a long range effort from the recently introduced Jordan Turner, and then Ryan Robbins, now probably the unluckiest player on the field had another shot bounce off the foot of the post as Belper were once again left in the wake of the Coalville winger.
Colin Marrison was on the end of a good Belper move in the 90th minute but couldn’t find power or direction and it was an easy save for the ‘keeper.
Danny Jenno sent Aaron Chapman diving at full length to push away his swerving shot, and in the dying seconds Simon Harrison’s cross shot needed just a touch after some great work from Glyn Cotton in getting the ball over in the first place. In the final analysis, the Nailers would have been relieved not to have lost this game against a very competent Coalville side, and lessons will have been learned!
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride, Wright, Leonard (Cotton 60), White, Simpkins, Harrison, Warne, Ward (Adams 69), Ball (Turner 77), Marrison. Unused subs: Rushbury, Ratcliffe.
Coalville Town: Bowles, Jenno, Stuart, Kay, Mill, Miveld, Woodward, Blankley (Maddison 57), Davidson, Murdock, Robbins. Unused subs: Powell, Kellog, Roulston, Carline.
Referee: Matthew Jones (Stafford)
Match sponsor: Belper Town Operations Committee.
Man of the match: Simon Harrison.