The title dreams of Belper United finally bit the dust with a do-or-die match against tabletopping Selston that turned into a disaster.
United began the Christchurch Meadow clash ten points adrift of their rivals in the Central Midlands League’s South Division, but with a game in hand, so victory would have given them a real chance of glory.
But not only did they lose 1-0, they also missed a penalty and had a player sent off. They were stull suffering the hangover three days later when also crashing to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Pinxton.
The Selston game, which was hit by a downpour of rain and hail in the first half, was tight, with little between the two sides. But United missed a golden chance for make the vital breakthrough when top scorer Sam Vickers belted a spot-kick against the bar.
The only goal came from another penalty, this time converted by the visitors in the 68th minute after a shot had been handled on the line, which gave the referee no option but to show a red card.
The Pinxton defeat, featuring goals from Joel Smith, Glen Fidler and Ryan Walters, left Paul Postlethwaite’s side in third place but with four teams breathing down their necks ahead of their final seven games of the campaign, which start with a home match against struggling Keyworth United tonight (Wednesday) and then a trip to mid-table Swanwick Pentrich Road on Saturday.
United are now fully 16 points behind Selston, who followed up their midweek win in Belper with another key 1-0 success over second-placed Hucknall Town, courtesy of a solitary strike from Damien James. They now need just two more victories from their last six matches to be crowned champions.
Other results included a couple of exciting 3-3 draws involving Collingham and Bulwell and also Swanwick Pentrich Road and Linby Colliery Welfare, while Hucknall Rolls Leisure triumped 1-0 at Keyworth.
At the other end of the South Division table, Holbrook St Michael’s were without a game, as were both Holbrook Sports Reserves and Holbrook St Michael’s Reserves in the Reserves Division.
However, Belper United Reserves were in action and slid to a disappointing 3-2 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Eastwood Community Reserves. It was their 16th defeat in 19 outings, despite goals from Matt Crookes and Jez Bailey.