Penalty save helps relieved Belper Town hang on unbeaten record in league

Goalkeeper Ryan Musselwhite pulls off a superb penalty-save for Belper. (PHOTO BY: Tim Harrison)
Goalkeeper Ryan Musselwhite pulls off a superb penalty-save for Belper. (PHOTO BY: Tim Harrison)

Battling Belper Town twice came from behind and survived a missed penalty to maintain their unbeaten record in the South-East Division of the BetVictor Northern Premier League.

Entertaining struggling Newcastle Town, Belper were expected to ease to three points on their return to league action after their exhilarating run in the FA Cup.

Belper's matchsaver Alex Peterson pointing the way. (PHOTO BY: Tim Harrison)

Belper's matchsaver Alex Peterson pointing the way. (PHOTO BY: Tim Harrison)

But they were given a surprise by the visitors before snatching a late point that kept them eighth in the table, ten points behind leaders Carlton Town with five games in hand.

The Nailers failed to make the most of a strong start, in which chances fell to Nathan Curtis and a good shout for a penalty was turned down.

Instead, Newcastle went in front in the 22nd minute when winning possession in midfield and Charlie Scott picked out the marauding Michael Conlon, who tucked away the opportunity.

It cpould have been even worse for Belper four minutes later when referee Ben Tomlinson spotted a foul among a group of players and awarded a spot-kick. However, Scott’s shot was brilliantly pushed against an upright by ‘keeper Ryan Musselwhite.

A crunching challenge involving Belper's Phil Watt. (PHOTO BY: Tim Harrison).

A crunching challenge involving Belper's Phil Watt. (PHOTO BY: Tim Harrison).

The relieved Nailers responded by equalising with a penalty of their own just before the break. It was given for an infringement just before the ball was bundled into the net, and Craig Nelthorpe stepped up to dispatch an unstoppable shot low into the corner.

If Nailers’ fans in the 302 crowd thought that would be the catalyst for a win, they were proved wrong in the 66th minute when Newcastle, third from bottom, regained their lead. This time, Tommy van der Laan struck a piledriver from outside the area.

At this stage, Belper were staring their first league defeat in the face, only to claim salvation 13 minutes from the end when Alex Peterson met a cross to the far post and his shot took a deflection off the knee of visiting defender Taylor Attrell and ended up in the back of the net.

The match continued to ebb and flow, with both teams convinced they could find a winner, but a share of the spoils was probably the right outcome.

BELPER LINE-UP -- Musselwhite/ Bryant (Dawes 73), Clark, Bertram (Wright 61), South, Watt, Robson, Nelthorpe (Swaine 66), Peterson, Gordon, Curtis. Subs not used: Ridley, Milner.