evo-Stik League Division One South
Brigg Town 2, Belper Town 2
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town salvaged a point from the Hawthorns on Tuesday night after a poor first half that saw them go two goals down inside the first 15 minutes.
The Nailers produced a much better performance after the break to bring the scores back level and with a bit of good fortune might even have taken all three points.
Ashley Longstaff was back in contention after returning from his honeymoon and his appearance as a substitute at half time was pivotal to the improvement demanded by manager Peter Duffield during the interval.
The first 20 minutes or so was frustrating to watch and came nowhere near the standard that Nailers’ supporters have been used to watching in recent times.
Gregg Archer put the Zebras ahead after only 5 minutes after some shambolic defending gave him the opportunity to strike the ball from the edge of the penalty area, and his shot beat Aaron Chapman at his far post.
A nervy Belper Town nearly conceded again two minutes later when Simon Harrison’s back pass fell to Dan Buttle, but he failed to make the best of the opportunity.
The Nailers were found wanting in the 15th minute when Alan Lamb slipped the ball through to Adam Lee and with the Belper defence totally out of position he walked the ball around Aaron Chapman and into the empty net.
The Nailers had shown little presence in the Brigg penalty area and when an opportunity came their way in the 30th minute, Michael Simpkins hit a 22 yard free kick well wide of the target.
There was an improvement in the last 10 minutes or so of the first half and when Colin Marrison burst through on goal on the stroke of half time, there appeared to be a stonewall penalty claim as he was brought down from behind, but unfortunately the referee saw no offence.
Peter Duffield made changes, both in personnel and tactically for the second half and there was a noticeable increase in tempo and urgency.
Andy Rushbury put pressure on the Brigg defence with a series of corner kicks throughout the half and from one of them in the 56th minute the breakthrough came.
Jordan Ball managed to force the ball back into the six yard area where Colin Marrison struck from close range to kick start the Nailers’ comeback.
Ball hit a screamer from 25 yards that Brigg ‘keeper Jamie Green could only parry, and with Belper firmly in the ascendency, Aaron Pride set the game alight with a superb individual goal.
He took the ball past three or four players and deep into the penalty area before hitting a venomous shot into the bottom far corner of the goal – a fantastic effort from the young full back!
The scene was set for a storming Belper victory but credit to Brigg; they had other ideas and began to fight back in the latter stages.
While the Nailers continued to look dangerous up front the evening hung on a knife edge when the referee looked long and hard at a challenge from a Belper defender in the final moments, however he opted to give Belper the benefit of the doubt, and then Colin Marrison might have nicked all three points when he headed over at the death.
Two successive draws wasn’t necessarily in the script for the start of this season, but in retrospect it could have been much worse and at least they showed signs of their true selves in the second half at Brigg.
Brigg Town: Green, Dickens, Heward, Lamb, Fisher, Morley, Davis, Archer, Paczkowski (Bowsley 45), Lee, Buttle. Subs not used: Mathews, Gee, Watson, Musselwhite.
Belper Town: Chapman, Pride, Wright, Cotton, White (Adams 45), Simpkins (Longstaff 45), Harrison (Leonard 75), Warne, Marrison, Ball, Rushbury. Subs not used: Turner, Ratcliffe.
Referee: Mark Jones (Mansfield)