It HAS been a mixed start to 2011 for Belper Town Football Club with two defeats and one victory in their three games since resuming their league campaign on New Year’s Day.
The Nailers, as did many other clubs, lost over seven weeks of Evo-Stik League fixtures and it was a great relief when the weather relented sufficiently for Belper to stage their first home fixture since 13 November.
Sheffield FC spoiled things for a healthy Bank Holiday crowd of 239 by nicking a winner in the last minute and took all three points by the odd goal in five.
While the Nailers have been finding the net with much more regularity recently, they have been shipping goals in also, so expectations were limited for last Monday’s visit to second placed Carlton Town.
It proved to be very much Belper’s day as goals from Jon Froggatt, Darryl Thomas and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, without any reply from the Millers spoiled the home side’s hitherto unblemished home league record.
Carlton finished up with only nine players following two red card incidents, but even so it was a deserved three points for Andy Carney’s men.
“Carlton battered us for the first twenty minutes or so,” said Carney, “but when Froggy scored that brilliant goal it changed everything about the game.
“The disappointing aspect for me was that when they went to ten men and then to nine we didn’t capitalise on our numerical advantage and let them have far too much of the ball.”
Last Saturday’s nine-goal thriller against Stamford emphasised plenty of good, and not so good points about the Nailers this season.
Stamford always seem to give the Nailers a tough game at Christchurch Meadow and it was no different this time around despite the fact that the Daniels are having an indifferent season.
Both teams demonstrated defensive frailties and Belper claimed mitigation due to the fact that both Matt Plant and his deputy, Craig Laight are both nursing knee injuries.
The Nailers scored four good goals which should be enough to win any game, but while Stamford took all five chances on offer, including a penalty and an own goal, the Nailers squandered another three or four possible opportunities, two very clear cut, and came out on the wrong end of the score line.
Jon Froggatt scored another brilliant goal to add to the one he got at Carlton, and Darryl Thomas is now showing why Andy Carney signed him as he snapped up two well taken efforts.
“I know we lost the game mainly because of defensive mistakes, but I thought our overall performance was good,” said Carney.
“When you score four goals you expect to win but we had two key defenders out last Saturday and Barney said he would play even though he was only 60 per cent fit.”
There was also a glimpse of new signing Matty Thorpe who shook off an ankle problem to make his Nailers’ debut with 30 minutes to go, and he got himself involved at a difficult time and did enough to suggest he might be a welcome acquisition to the squad.
“Matty will do well for us and just needs match fitness,” Carney said, “he was desperate to make his debut despite having barely recovered from an ankle problem that has kept him out of the last two games.”
“He was very well thought of at his previous club AFC Emley and I’m pleased to have him in our ranks.”
Belper’s other new addition Zeke Jenkins, cousin of former Belper striker Justin, didn’t get a chance to show what he can do and he is yet to make his debut.
Carney will use him as a squad player primarily, but expects him to push for a place in his customary left back berth as the season progresses.
Manager Andy Carney expects to add further players to his squad in the next few weeks and doesn’t rule out departures from the club either as he tries to build a squad that will challenge for a play off place.
“I’ve been pleased by our progress since the start of the season but there are areas in which we can improve, so I plan to make some changes in an attempt to bring more consistency to our play and hopefully our results.”
The Nailers travel to Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday and then face Buxton at the Silverlands on Wednesday (Jan. 19) in the quarter final of the Derbyshire Senior Cup.