Belper Town have found pre-season challenging at the Marston’s Stadium so far, having lost all three of their home fixtures, against Tamworth, Coalville and now neighbours Leek Town.
The Staffordshire side stepped in at short notice after Chesterfield were forced to pull out of the engagement due to circumstances beyond their control.Leek will play their football in the West Division of the Evo-Stik North this season and consequently it is very unlikely that the two clubs will meet each other again for quite a while unless cup draws intervene.
Belper were still without Sam Colbear who was injured at Goole, but the consensus of thought prior to the start was that Leek would provide a decent yardstick as to how far Grant Black’s new team had progressed.
The Nailers made a good start and generally had the lion’s share of possession for the first 25 minutes, however they could only muster an Alex Peterson back header and a Joel Ambalu shot that went wide on 13 minutes.
Leek slowly played their way into the game and former Nailer Rob Stevenson opened the scoring in the 25th minute when his shot took an awkward bounce and deceived Max Beardmore in the Belper goal.
The goal proved to be the turning point as Leek grew in confidence with Niall Green’s well struck shot being saved by Beardmore on 34 minutes.
Leek went further ahead on 41 minutes when Dan Trickett-Smith hit a perfect free kick from just outside the penalty area that beat Beardmore at his near post.
Alex Peterson dropped into the back four at the start of the second half with Jake Sturgess moving into midfield, this together with the introduction of three substitutes eventually had a positive effect on the game.
Unfortunately, before the new formation could gel, the visitors went 3-0 up after Dan Trickett-Smith fired home a 48th minute penalty kick, and then Belper’s best player on the night Ricky Paylor pulled one back a minute later with a cool finish from 12 yards.
Peter Cruz, who had impressed against Coalville turned and fired an effort straight at Ben Chapman and then one of two Belper trialists hit a 25 yard effort that Chapman saved well.
A defensive mix up effectively sealed the win for Leek as Rob Stevenson tapped the ball in from close range on 57 minutes, although Anton Daniels helped keep the game alive for the Nailers with a well taken goal on 65 minutes.
An improved second half performance from the Nailers certainly made the visitors work hard for their win but as a benchmarking exercise, Belper still have more to do it would seem.
Belper Town. Max Beardmore, Darryl Lucas (Trialist 45), Seyavoush Esmaely (Clark 38), Ricky Paylor, Jake Sturgess (Trialist 87), Jon Guy, Danny Gordon (Cruz 45), Marcus Day (Ellam 65), Alex Peterson, Joel Ambalu, Nathan Curtis (Daniels 45).
Referee: Kelvin Wilson.