Slideshow: Promotion-chasing FC United of Manchester too strong for Belper Town

Any hopes that the Nailers would spring a surprise against promotion-chasing FC United of Manchester were dispelled when striker Thomas Greaves netted twice either side of half time to set the visitors on their way to a 3-1 win.

Second-placed United, no doubt determined to make this season the one in which they progress to the Conference North had lost only four League games all season.

Jon Froggatt celebrates his 150th goal for Belper. Pic by Tim Harrison

Jon Froggatt celebrates his 150th goal for Belper. Pic by Tim Harrison

In front of a bumper crowd, it was Belper who took a third minute lead when Jon Froggatt sent Belper fans wild when his swerving shot from 20 yards nestled just inside the top corner for his 150th Belper goal.

FC United were quickly on the offensive and a poor clearance from Haystead resulted in Thomas Greaves having a clear opportunity, but the Belper ‘keeper redeemed himself with a good stop.

Michael Towey struck a fine volley in the 11th minute that flew straight at David Carnell and for the first 15 minutes the Nailers had more than held their own.

Craig Lindfield had plenty of opportunity to place his cross in the 16th minute but the ball flew harmlessly over everyone and to safety, then Phil Watt blocked a well hit effort from Thomas Greaves moments later.

Luke Ashworth toe poked a loose ball from a 26th minute corner kick straight at Danny Haystead, and then the Nailers cleared a Craig Lindfield free kick as the visitors slowly began to gather momentum.

Belper had to make their second substitution of the first half when Rob Stevenson replaced Jason Stokes in the 41st minute as new signing Lee Potts had already come on for his debut 14 minutes earlier.

With half time closing in fast the Nailers conceded an equaliser in the second minute of added on time, when Thomas Greaves nodded a close range header from a Craig Lindfield cross. Danny Haystead almost managed to get to the ball but it bounced just inside the post and rested in the side of the net..

Haystead prevented the visitors going in front at the break when he pushed a Greg Daniels flick around the post just before the half time whistle.

FC United stamped their authority on the game immediately after the start of the second half when Thomas Greaves tucked away a cross to the far post in the 46th minute to score his second of the game.

In the 54th minute Rob Stevenson looked to have had a good shout for a penalty, and while the Nailers were still appealing, the visitors wasted no time in clearing the ball down field and Shelton Payne looked set to score but Danny Haystead took the ball off his foot to prevent FC United getting a third goal.

Greaves spurned a great chance for a hat-trick in the 63rd minute when he swung at a low cross but made poor contact and Haystead was able to save comfortably.

However the visitors went further ahead in the 66th minute when Phil Watt’s mis hit clearance fell nicely for Shelton Payne who swept the ball into the net from 15 yards.

Haystead stood up well to a close range effort from Rory Fallon as the visitors looked more comfortable in every passing minute.

Rob Stevenson nearly caught David Carnell unawares at his near post in the 83rd minute and the Nailers won three corners in quick succession but couldn’t force a goal scoring opportunity.

Haystead came off his line quickly to intercept the ball as Thomas Greaves bore down with his hat trick in mind, and although the Nailers can be commended for keeping the score down to three, in the final analysis, they had been they were well beaten by the form team in the division.

Belper Town: Haystead, Turner, Matthews, Lister, Watt (Varley 66), Ross, Williams, Towey, Grimes (Potts 27), Froggatt, Stokes (Stevenson 41). Sub not used: Warne

FC United of Manchester: Carnell, Brownhill, Daniels (Fallon 74), Stott, Lacy, Ashworth, Payne, Byrne (Brown 85), Greaves, Wright, Lindfield. Subs not used: Wolfenden, Lynch.

Referee: Mark Dwyer (Castleford)

Att: 1,002