Kings Lynn Town 1 Belper Town 2
Stunning strikes from Mark Ward and Shaun Tuton secured a very impressive victory for Belper Town over second in the table Kings Lynn Town, who also suffered their first home defeat of the season.
The Nailers travelled to the Walks Stadium full of confidence following their midweek 9-0 thrashing of Romulus, although they had to go without first choice defenders Richard Adams and Greg Wright.
Shaun Roulston came into the centre of defence while Andy Rushbury deputised at full back and Mark Ward got the nod ahead of Jared Stephens up front.
The Linnets had seen their 14-game unbeaten run come to an end at Sutton Coldfield a few days earlier, and the Nailers relished facing the Norfolk club at their impressive stadium in front of nearly 600 supporters.
High profile games such as these tend to bring the best out of Belper Town and the first half was to be one of their most impressive of the season so far.
It started with the Linnets’ George Thompson shooting wide in the fourth minute but the Nailers made a solid start to the game, although the home side enjoyed greater possession early on.
Dave Ratcliffe made a fine save from Russ Dunkley in the 17th minute when he managed to arch his back to tip a looping header over the crossbar, and then soon afterwards Stephen Spriggs had a great chance to put Kings Lynn ahead after a rebound put him in possession with only Ratcliffe to beat, but he put a tame shot straight at the Belper ’keeper.
Within seconds of this, Belper had their first genuine attempt when Richard Stirrup hit a low drive inches past the far post, but more importantly the Linnets had shown a small chink in their otherwise close fitting armour.
Shaun Tuton’s runs and some excellent passing began to chip away at Kings Lynn, and this was met with some frustration from the crowd who no doubt had expected Belper to be swept away like most other teams who had visited this season.
And they certainly never expected the sensational strike from Shaun Tuton in the 21st minute that set this game alight, after Kings Lynn were stretched beyond their comfort zone and Tuton blasted a superb dipping volley over Danny Gay from just outside the penalty area.
The Linnets’ response was muted to say the least and two minutes later they found themselves two goals down when Mark Ward executed a delightful chip shot over the Kings Lynn ‘keeper to stun the crowd and put the skids under the opposition.
The remainder of the half belonged to the Nailers as they pushed and probed the Linnets’ defence, much to the discontent of the home support.
George Thompson provided some relief for Kings Lynn with a rasping drive that Dave Ratcliffe tipped over the cross bar, and it was pleasing to hear some distant booing as the teams left the field at half time.
Unsurprisingly. Kings Lynn came out for the second half looking sharper on the ball and their passing was quick and accurate.
However Shaun Tuton nearly put paid to any recovery plans when he did really well to get the ball into the six-yard area and it flew tantalisingly to safety.
George Thompson hit a fine effort on top of the crossbar on 51 minutes, and Phil Gulliver put a header just over the bar soon afterwards.
The Nailers had to soak up more pressure this half and with Kings Lynn’s ability to switch play quickly to either flank, it needed Belper to hold their concentration.
Shaun Tuton put in a rare shot for the Nailers in the 75th minute at a time when it seemed as though the Linnets’ efforts were waning, but in the 77th minute Russ Dunkley hit a thunderous left-foot effort just inside the post to give Kings Lynn a lifeline.
Colin Marrison went close to sealing victory in the 85th minute after a neat passing move, ending with a shot well saved by Danny Gay. However the crossbar prevented a late Kings Lynn equaliser when Russ Dunkley volley struck the woodwork with Dave Ratcliffe beaten.
Belper managed to negotiate four minutes of added time quite comfortably to claim an excellent victory and move to within one place of the play-off places.
Kings Lynn Town: Gay, Watson, Yong, Fryatt, Culliver, Bunting (Turner 63), Spriggs, Quigley, Dunkley, Thompson, Thurlbourne (Buhleman 80). Unused subs: Bexfield, White, Street.
Belper Town: Ratcliffe, Pride, Rushbury, Marrison, Roulston, Colley, Harrison, Warne, Ward (Stephens 45), Tuton (Froggatt 76), Stirrup. Unused subs: Deakin, Chapman.
Referee: R Townsend (Newark)