Belper Town are out of the FA Trophy after losing their preliminary round replay 1-0 at Stamford on Tuesday night.
Belper can feel hard done by after arguably being the better side in both ties, with the brilliance of former Nailers ‘keeper Danny Haystead preventing a Belper win at the first attempt, and again in the replay.
An unfortunate penalty conceded by the otherwise excellent Isaac Assenso proved to be the difference on the night and left Nailers players and supporters feeling frustrated at the defeat.
Danny South was carrying an injury from the first game and skipper Alex Peterson capably deputised in the back four, however the returning Darol Lucas had to be content with a place on the bench with Jacob Sturgess retaining the right back slot.
The game was played at a frantic pace throughout and the hosts understandably pressed forward from the kick off which had been delayed by 35 minutes due to floodlight failure.
Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson’s sixth minute shot was deflected for a corner kick as the Daniels threatened early on, however the Nailers responded with a Rikki Paylor volley from a Nathan Curtis cross that went just over the cross bar.
Belper had the ball in the net on 23 minutes but celebrations were cut short by the referee’s assistant’s offside flag, then another former Nailer, Grant Ryan glanced a header just wide of the Belper goal soon afterwards.
Curtis hit a good shot on the run that Haystead saved, then the Daniels ‘keeper saved brilliantly from Piteu Crouz on 32 minutes after breaking through the Stamford back line.
As Belper pressure intensified Sturgess saw a header from a corner kick graze the cross bar, then shortly afterwards George Milner was a victim of Haystead’s brilliance when his volley was touched over by the Daniels’ stopper.
Belper weathered the expected pressure from Stamford at the start of the second half and just as it seemed that the Nailers had things under control again, Assenso was penalised for tripping a Stamford player inside the penalty area.
The referee, who had shown inconsistency all evening, gave the spot kick and for a few seconds there were fears that the Belper defender would be sent off.
After much hand waving and consultation with his assistant no further action was taken against Assenso, however Stamford scored what would be the decisive goal when Ryan drilled the ball home from the penalty.
Belper dominated the rest of the half with Paylor and Sturgess going close with efforts in the 71st and 77th minutes.
The Nailers pumped in a dozen or more crosses as pressure increased but most of them were dealt with by the Daniels defenders who seemed to get everything launched in at head height or above.
When the ball was played to feet, Stamford looked less confident, and with the game fast coming to a close Milner had a sniff of a chance in the 88th minute but put the ball wide of the far post, out of reach of players running in.
Considering the huge amount of effort Belper put in to both ties and the control they had for long spells, this was a disappointing outcome for the Nailers, however their overall performance speaks volumes for the progress the management team are making in building a strong squad of players.
Stamford AFC: Haystead, Cooke, Eggington, Burgess Joe, Miller, Salt, Challinor (Garvie 69), Duffy, Ryan, Fortnam-Tomlinson (Adams 58), Brown-Hill (Morris 58). Unused subs: Bates, Tarris.
Belper Town. Overton, Burgess Jacob,, Clark, Paylor, Peterson, Assenso, Nelthorpe , Robson, Milner, Crouz (Lucas 66), Curtis. Unused subs: Gordon, Johal, Esmaeily.
Referee: Andrew Hitchcox