Unbeaten Belper Town playing catch-up after cup runs

Belper Town manager Grant Black.
Belper Town manager Grant Black.

Unbeaten Belper Town travel to Wisbech Town on Saturday aiming to stay in touch with the BetVictor NPL pace-setters ahead of looming fixture congestion.

Good runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy have given the Nailers much publicity, which boss Grant Black believes will make other clubs raise their game against them.

But it has also left them having played far fewer games than most with Belper eighth, 10 points off top spot but with five games in hand.

“We are going to have a backlog no matter really,” said Black after a 2-2 home draw with Newcastle Town last weekend.

“Although we’re out the FA Cup and FA Trophy now, we’ve still got the Derbyshire Senior Cup and the League Cup coming into play and if they start getting called off, they take priority over the league.

“It’s definitely going to be something we need to look at and the squad will definitely be utilised over the next few weeks – in those cup competitions more than anything.

“It’s a long old journey down to Wisbech so we will have to be mentally prepared to travel all that way on the day and not let it affect our performance.

“I feel if we perform like we did last Saturday and just have that killer touch, we can make it difficult for Wisbech. We know they will be a good side and teams will up their performance against us.”

He added: “We have to get used to that now. We are there to be shot at.

“We’ve had a lot of publicity over the last few months and sometimes teams want to get one over you for that reason.

“The lads have to get used to the fact there may be an extra 10 per cent from other teams. We have to adapt to that best we can and keep the unbeaten run going.

“We need to keep it nice and tight between us and the top five or six, knowing we have those games in hand.

“We’ve just got to keep in touch with them until we get those games out of the way.

“We have a good 18/19 players that are all good enough to play. So, as long as we are clever – and that’s down to us more than anything – and use the squad we’ve got, we should be able to manager it properly.”

Bad weather and cup games have left Belper starved of league action and Black said: “Having the Glossop game called off last week was not ideal for us as, on the back of a good performance against Notts County, you want to be playing straight away.

“We missed that and it might have been a factor last weekend in the draw with Newcastle, going a couple of weeks without a game.

“But we’ll take a point and by the end of the season we might go up by one point or get in the play-offs by one point. So it could be a valuable one.

“It just means we now go to Wisbech needing to make the point a good one by beating them.”

On league positions, Belper may have been expected to see off Newcastle last weekend, but Black does not believe the performance, which saw them twice have to fight back from behind, was down to any hangover from their superb FA Cup display at Notts County.

He said: “The Notts game was a good couple of weeks before and we’d trained a lot.

“We had made players aware that game had gone now. So I don’t think it was ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’.

“Newcastle are not a bad side, based on where they are in the table. The table is still probably a bit false.

“It’s another game unbeaten for us, but there were a few things we were not happy with.

“Sometimes we did go a bit against what we are used to doing and maybe that was what’s come from the Notts County game.

“Maybe a couple of players think they can do more than what they are capable of doing?

“So maybe it’s a case of getting them back down to earth as individuals rather than as a group.

“We started the game well and if it had been a boxing match it would have been done after about 20 minutes.

“But we just couldn’t put our chances away early. Then they got a goal on the counter-attack which took the sting out of us a bit.

“We did score just before half-time and continued to create chances.

“But they then scored an absolute wonder goal to be honest. It stuck in the stanchion. Nine times out of 10 they go over the fence.

“Sometimes those things happen and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up. It was a ‘worldie’ and nothing to with our play.

“So we showed great character to come back to 2-2 and pushed for a winner.”

Black admitted it had been a race against time to ensure the Newcastle game did not become yet another postponement.

“We got to the ground on Saturday and the pitch was in great condition to be fair,” he said.

“But there was just a corner where it was full of water where you’d have to run up to take a corner.

“We got there at noon and were bucketing it off for an hour and a half before the ref got there, to make sure the game wasn’t called off.”