Sheffield FC 1
Belper Town 2
Doodson Sport Cup, second round
by David Laughlin
A CONTROLLED and assured first half performance was the key to Belper Town securing a place in the third round of the Doodson Sport Cup on Tuesday night, whilst giving manager, Peter Duffield his sixth straight victory.
The Nailers showed six changes from the team that won at Brigg Town last Saturday, with Duffield giving pitch time to a number of players who have been on the edge of the action in recent weeks.
Luke Chambers and Damien Magee filled the full back roles in place of Aaron Pride and Dan White, whilst Lee Whittington and Ryan Hindley earned places in attack and midfield respectively. Deon Meikle slotted into the central midfield berth in place of the rested Nailers skipper, Colin Marrison.
A cut and thrust opening set the tone for the game with the lively Matt Ronan for the hosts and Deon Meikle for Belper both seeing shots deflected marginally wide of the target.
The Nailers were starting to impose themselves on the match with some excellent passing and movement and it was no surprise when they took a 6th minute lead when Andy Rushbury’s pinpoint cross was firmly headed into the net by Lee Whittington for his first goal for the club.
It was all Belper at this stage and they doubled their advantage after 15 minutes when Richard Adams saw his shot blocked only for the ball to loop into the air and Rushbury was on hand to fire the ball into the next from close range.
Sheffield survived a scare on the half hour mark when they somehow got bodies behind a flurry of Belper shots on the home goal as the Nailers tried to put the game beyond the reach of the current league leaders.
Jamie Hadfield almost reduced the arrears with a free header inside the box but his effort was marginally too high but the Nailers were well worth their two goal advantage at the interval.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with the Nailers eager to play the ball around on the slick surface and almost capitalised when Deon Meikle slipped a gorgeous through ball to release Lee Morris but the Belper striker was unfortunate to see his shot fly just past the far post.
Ryan Hindley volleyed just over the bar from another Rushbury cross after the home defence failed to clear the ball effectively but that incident signalled the start of a revival for the home team.
Sheffield substitute, Kyle Jordan was the catalyst for much of the impressive late performance by the hosts, first over hitting his cross with a number of colleagues in good positions before David Graham spurned a decent opportunity after another incisive move which sliced through the Belper defence.
Jordan reduced the arrears for Sheffield after 78 minutes, drilling the ball through a crowded penalty area and just inside the far post.
That sparked a frenzied conclusion to the game as Jordan again got around the back of the Belper rearguard to fizz a cross shot inches wide of the far post and as the visitors defence started to live dangerously, the Sheffield substitute broke through again only to see his shot skim off the top of the crossbar.
The referee found almost seven minutes of added time, during which the Nailers survived a bombardment of crosses and corners but they held firm to gain a deserved place in the next round of the competition.
Sheffield FC: Whatsize, Barnett, Kay, Richardson (Williams 46), Varley, Hadfield, Roney, Poulton, Weir (Gascoigne 65), Graham, Gosling (Jordan 59). Other Subs. Longstaff, Lewis.
Belper Town: Turner, Chambers (Pride 76), Magee (Graham 90), Warne, Adams, O’Hare, Hindley, Meikle, Whittington (Froggatt 65), Morris, Rushbury. Other Subs. Spargo, Richmond
Referee: David Midgley (Huddersfield)