Belper Town lost their 23-game unbeaten record against league champions Kings Lynn Town on Saturday, but the Nailers fielded a weakened team with Monday’s play-off semi final against Stamford in mind.
The Nailers welcomed the Linnets to Christchurch Meadow for the final league fixture of the season and manager Peter Duffield made a number of changes to his starting line-up.
Among these, reserve team player Sam Vickers was given an opportunity to show what he can do at first team level.
The Belper Town players gave a guard of honour Kings Lynn as they came on to the field, and there were presentations to Shaun Roulston and Jon Froggatt, who shared the supporters’ player of the year award.
The Nailers went a goal down after seven minutes when Shane Tolley had time to turn and shoot past Dave Ratcliffe from eight yards, after they had failed to deal with a Danny Beaumont cross.
Even though Belper had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the early stages, they fell two behind five minutes later when Shane Tolley headed a powerful effort just under the bar.
Michael Simpkins came close to reducing the arrears on 25 minutes with a header to the near post but Jordan Yong was on hand to clear off the line.
The Linnets came forward and scored a third in the 29th minute when Shane Tolley took advantage of a deflection that put him in on a one-on-one with Dave Ratcliffe and the Kings Lynn striker took the opportunity to complete his hat trick.
Mark Ward sent a looping header just over the bar in the 35th minute as Belper tried to get on the score sheet.
The game drifted towards half-time without any further incident.
Darryl Thomas had a great chance to score in the 54th minute when he got past the last man and found himself with only Danny Gay to beat, but the Linnets’ custodian came out bravely to block.
Sam Vickers had a good heading opportunity on 59 minutes but couldn’t direct it properly.
Mark Ward put a 75th minute free kick over the bar and although the Nailers had played much better in the second period they had yet to seriously trouble the Kings Lynn ‘keeper.
Belper manager Peter Duffield was sent off in the 85th minute after an altercation with the Kings Lynn bench and the game was played out to a tame finish as thoughts turned to the play-off semi final clash at home to Stamford Town.