FA Trophy, Preliminary Round
Carlton Town 4
Belper Town 5
by Nigel Oldrini
BELPER Town won a humdinger of an FA Trophy tie to progress through to the next round for the first time in 7 years.
The Nailers have faced Carlton Town three times in as many weeks and these games have produced an incredible 20 goals with last Saturday’s topping the lot with a 9 goal thriller at the Bill Stokeld Stadium.
With Steve Warne unable to play in this tie left the way open for Deon Meikle to make his return from injury but otherwise the Nailers’ starting line remained unchanged from their midweek win over Goole.
There was an early scare for Belper within seconds of the kick off with a wayward clearance from Richard Adams causing Andy Richmond to push the ball over the cross bar.
Jon Froggatt had the ball in the Carlton net from a 3rd minute corner kick but the referee disallowed his effort for a foul on the Millers’ ‘keeper.
Lee Morris looked set to score the opening goal when he ran through in the 10th minute but Rob Darkin stuck a timely foot out to prevent Morris getting a shot in.
Just as Belper were getting into their stride, Carlton took the lead in the 13th minute when Ian Brown ran to the near post to meet a corner kick and glanced the ball in at the far post.
A period of very scrappy play ensued before the Nailers pulled back level on 17 minutes when Richard Adams leaped above everyone to head a Dan White free kick into the far corner of the net for only his second goal in over a century of appearances.
Deon Meikle might have sent Belper ahead in the 29th minute when he headed over an Andy Rushbury cross, but the move leading up to the opportunity was impressive.
Jon Froggatt hit a magnificent free kick that almost fooled Danny Marshall as he struggled to see the ball over the cross bar.
However in the 40th minute the Nailers succumbed to a typically swift Carlton counter attack with Josh Thornton collecting the ball on the right then the unfortunate Alan O’Hare misjudged an awkward bounce to deflect the ball into his own net.
The paint on Belper’s dressing room wall must have blistered as Duffield and Godber ripped into the players during half time, but any response was delayed for at least ten minutes as Carlton dominated at the start of the second period.
The Nailers were fortunate not to concede in those early minutes as Andy Richmond saved first from Ruben Wiggins-Thomas and then palmed away another shot that was deflected high into the air.
But it was Belper who set off a scoring spree in the 55th minute when Andy Rushbury demonstrated persistence in the penalty area before sliding the ball into the far corner of the goal leaving Marshall rooted to the spot.
Celebrations had barely died down before the Millers had restored their lead barely a minute later when Ruben Wiggins-Thomas ran on to a Theodore Smith pass and squeezed the ball in at the near post.
Belper clawed their way back into the game in the 62nd minute when Dan White registered his first goal for the club with a header from an Andy Rushbury free kick, but incredibly, the Millers restored their advantage straight away when Nick Hall fired home from 15 yards.
The goals kept on coming in this hugely entertaining cup tie and this time it was Belper who hauled themselves back into the game for the fourth time when Dan White lobbed the ball into the penalty area for Jon Froggatt to keep up his rich run of scoring form with a header beyond the challenging Millers’ keeper.
It took a huge effort to keep Carlton at bay who immediately came back at the Nailers to try and snatch the lead again, but this time it was Belper who stunned the Millers’ supporters by forging ahead for the first time in the game on 75 minutes.
The winning strike originated from an Andy Rushbury corner kick and as the ball bounced around just outside the six yard area, Belper skipper Colin Marrison struck a controlled volley high into the net to give the Nailers the advantage.
It seemed inconceivable that this would be the last goal in such a high scoring game, but it was, despite the fact that Jermain Hollis missed a simple chance within a minute to continue an unlikely sequence of immediate responses, but fortunately his shot rebounded off the foot of the post.
It was always Belper’s game after this and they now face yet another away game when they travel to Barton Rovers in the next round.
Carlton Town: Marshall, Darkin, Goward, Kimberley (Grayson A 69), Kitchen, Hall, Thornton (Grayson N 86), Hawkridge, Wiggins-Thomas (Gill 80), Brown, Smith. Unused subs: Hollis, Gardener.
Belper Town: Richmond, Pride, White, Meikle, Adams, O’Hare, Ellis (Graham 54), Marrison, Froggatt, Morris (Chambers 86), Rushbury. Unused subs: Spargo, Ortuno, Turner.
Referee: Alan Hull (Sheffield)