First Division South
Belper Town 0
Kidsgrove Athletic 1
Belper Town lost a closely fought contest by a single goal but can take comfort from a good performance against one of the play off hopefuls.
The Nailers gave Liam Davis his debut at left back after the defender signed from Goole AFC last week, and Lee Thompson switched to his more accustomed right back slot which meant Aaron Pride dropped to substitute.
Andy Rushbury got the nod ahead of Russ Peel while another new face Matt McKenzie continued alongside Richard Adams in the centre of defence after making his debut in the midweek victory over Harrogate Railway.
The Nailers nearly made a dream start when Jon Froggatt struck a 2nd minute volley against the angle and moments later Ruben Wiggins-Thomas got behind the Kidsgrove defence but put his cross into the arms of Steve Hodgson.
Richard Adams hit a 25 yarder over the top in the 5th minute as the Nailers made a good start to the game with some attractive man to man football.
Kidsgrove’s Dave Walker caused an anxious moment in the 14th minute when he turned and hit a curling shot just beyond the far post, then soon afterwards, Andy Rushbury’s cross went beyond Hodgson and just out of reach of Jon Froggatt.
Darryl Thomas’s quickness on the ball nearly opened up the Kidsgrove defence in the 20th minute but he couldn’t get his shot away before being closed down.
A good chance fell to Belper in the 27th minute when Lee Thompson sent Darryl Thomas away but with only the ‘keeper to beat, he struck the ball against the legs of the Kidsgrove custodian and the danger was averted.
The Nailers conceded a harsh looking penalty in the 28th minute when Matt McKenzie was penalised for what seemed to be an innocuous challenge on Karl Charlton but justice appeared to be done when Ali Barcherini pulled off a magnificent save from Dave Walker’s well struck spot kick.
In the 36th minute Karl Charlton was allowed to run through the Belper defence and they were indebted to Ali Barcherini for pushing over the resulting goal bound effort.
Andy Rushbury had Hodgson back peddling three minutes later with a teasing cross that just cleared the cross bar.
Barcherini got down well to smother another Charlton effort on 44 minutes and the visitors had wrested control of the game from the Nailers who were having to defend more and more as the half wore on.
Matty Thorpe nearly got the second half off to a good start when he headed a lofted cross from Lee Thompson just past the far post.
However in the 50th minute it was Belper who looked relieved when Andy Rushbury was ideally placed to clear Matt Haddrell’s powerful header off the line.
Play reverted to the other end where Jon Froggatt skillfully played the ball into the path of Darryl Thomas who blasted a good effort just past the upright.
Andy Rushbury tried a shot from 25 yards that flashed inches past the far post, but Barcherini kept the scores level at the other end seconds later with a brilliant save from Tim Sanders’ swerving effort from outside the penalty area.
But it was Kidsgrove who broke the deadlock on 65 minutes with a goal of some quality with Karl Charlton’s measured pass perfect for Aiden Matranga to run on to, and the low finish was expertly executed with Barcherini unable to prevent the ball going in.
Jon Froggatt was inches away from an equaliser in the 76th minute when he met Ruben Wiggins-Thomas’ cross at the far post but Steve Hodgson got the merest of touches to knock the ball onto the post.
The Nailers worked hard to fashion an equaliser and had one been forthcoming it would have been deserved but in the final analysis Belper will take heart from a good all round performance against one of the stronger sides in the division.
Belper Town: Barcherini, Thompson, Davis, Darker, McKenzie (Simmons 75), Adams, Wiggins-Thomas, Thorpe, Froggatt, Thomas, Rushbury (Peel 80). Unused subs. Pride, Jenkins, Barnard.
Kidsgrove Athletic: Hodgson, Smith, Dove, Ward, Schwarz, Charlton, Matranga, Sanders, Walker, Haddrell, Urwin. Unused subs: Morris, Beasley, Johnson.
Referee: James Hermuzi (Worksop). Attendance: 220
Match sponsors: J C Balls & sons
Man of the match: Ali Barcherini.