Men facing crucial games

EHL Men’s Conference North

Ben Rhydding 1, Belper 1

WITH their nearest relegation rivals picking up points, Belper’s national league survival now rests on the final two games of the season.

The hosts started at a high tempo and the Nailers struggled to get a foothold in the game.

Despite this, the first chance of the game fell to James Blackwell who had his shot deflected past a post by the glove of home keeper Dave Carter.

Belper had long periods of pressure in and around the Ben Rhydding circle but they could not make a breakthrough as a number of chances went either wide or were saved.

The inevitable happened as the hosts took the lead with Dave Swarbrick picked out on the far post where he had time to control the ball and place it neatly inside the back post.

Despite the warning, Belper did not improve. In fact, their play deteriorated with passes going astray and possession gifted away.

Indeed, it took a good tackle from Richard Kitchen to avert the danger from a quickly-taken corner.

A couple of tactical changes were made but Belper began the second half by again showing some poor basics although the hosts had no answer for Tom Sherratt’s surging runs from within his own half.

Chances were created and the visiting forwards had large amounts of possession while Ben Rhydding were limited to very few periods of play in the Belper half.

Sam Hawkes played a key role in the Belper equaliser. Acting as the pivot in the backline, his quick and accurate distribution found Sherratt who managed to fire a pass into McCambridge in the circle. The defenders were drawn to McCambridge who calmly played a delightful pass to David Ebbage arriving unmarked at the back post and he unleashed a first time shot which was destined for the back of the net but was stopped illegally on the line by a Rhydding defender.

Belper appealed for a penalty stroke but the engaged umpire was unsighted and play was stopped. As the umpires discussed the issue, Belper set up for the stroke. Eventually the stroke was correctly awarded much to the anger of some vocal home supporters. Luke Davies took his second stroke in as many weeks in another high pressure situation. As with the previous week, the pressure did not show and Luke calmly sent the keeper the wrong way and flicked low to the left. 1-1.

Belper turned up the pressure and pushed hard for a winner and almost found one when a good ball from Chris Hall found Ebbage in the circle. His flicked shot seemed destined for the goal but ricocheted back off the near post and hit the foot of the waiting Luke Davies, who was unable to react in time, on the far post.

The Nailers take on Harborne at the Meadows this Saturday (1.30pm).