Smeels like team spirit as Belper Town progress in FA Cup

Belper Town v Leicester Nirvana.
Belper Town v Leicester Nirvana.

Belper were pushed all the way by a determined Leicester Nirvana side before they secured a 4-2 win in the Emirates FA Cup.

On a bumpy pitch, the Nailers found it difficult early on to put their passing game together as Nirvana’s more direct approach was infinitely more suited to the playing surface.

Belper Town v Leicester Nirvana.

Belper Town v Leicester Nirvana.

In fact, it was the hosts that created most of the scoring opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.

Danny Haystead saved well as Ash Day sent in a vicious 18-yard strike and then repeated his prowess when the industrious Reece Morris sent in a low shot that might have crept inside the post.

Nirvana ‘keeper James Flinders did will to parry the ball clear when Laurie Wilson’s free-kick was deflected and full back Luke Day nicked the ball off Evan Garnett’s toes as the Belper striker latched onto Michael Towey’s through ball.

Morris then sent a shot just over the Belper crossbar and teammate Matthew Melbourne repeated the feat minutes later as the Nailers continued to be tested.

But the game turned in Belper’s favour with two goals in as many minutes just before the interval.

Grant Ryan headed the Nailers in front a pinpoint Sam Purcicoe cross after Flinders miscalculated the flight of the ball.

Then, Evan Garnett wrestled the ball away from Luke Day before racing into the area and sending the ball inside the far-post.

A two-goal advantage at the break perhaps flattered the Nailers, but they looked to have put the game beyond Nirvana seconds after the restart when Ryan made it 3-0.

Leicester refused to buckle and reduced the arrears on 57 minutes when sub Alex Paval squared the ball for Ash Day to slot in from close-range.

The Nailers restored their three-goal advantage on 64 minutes when Rob Stevenson raced away from the Nirvana defence before sidestepping the ‘keeper and rolling the ball into the empty net.

The hosts again responded in great fashion as they reduced the deficit just three minutes later, when the Nailers failed to deal with a free-kick and the ball squirmed into the net off a Belper defender.

Johnathan Williams made life difficult for his colleagues when he earned a second caution for kicking the ball away leaving the Nailers to protect their lead for the final 10 minutes.

But the Nailers held strong in a frantic final spell, with the ball twice being cleared off the goalline as they saw the win out.

Belper: Haystead, Purcicoe, Matthews, Lister, Watt, Williams, Wilson, Towey, Garnett, Ryan (Fairclough 81), Johnson (Stevenson 45).