Match Report: Belper Town vs. Lincoln United

Belper Town 2-2 Lincoln United

Sat 15 Dec 15:00 – The Evo-Stik League – East Division

Full time

Attendance 176

Town Tie 2-2 with lively Lincoln

By Richard Phelps

Belper led twice and put in a good performance but it wasn’t enough to deny a spirited Lincoln side.

This was the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with both winning one apiece. Neither started this match particularly well, with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball or create many meaningful chances.

This all changed with twenty minutes on the clock, when new signing from Maltby Main, a man brought in to replace the outgoing Kai Hancock, Ross Duggan broke the deadlock.

The ball spun up in the air and the striker instinctively struck a controlled, left-footed volley into the bottom corner, giving Lincoln goalkeeper Philip McGann no chance.

The players had to endure terrible conditions as thick mud made the ball bobble throughout and pouring rain threatened to spoil the quality of the football being played.

The home side, who unveiled a brand-new electronic scoreboard in this match, controlled the opening 45 minutes, but couldn’t add to their slender lead.

It took until five minutes before half-time, for the away outfit to carve out their first real opportunity of the afternoon, but Robert Norris could not show the same composure that Duggan had done when presented with a similar chance.

The Lincoln midfielder’s volley went well over, meaning that Belper headed into the interval leading 1-0 after what was a quiet opening half.

The second period was anything but that though and just three minutes following the restart, Lincoln forward Thomas Garrick’s misplaced cross looped over Town keeper Leigh Overton’s head and flew straight into the top corner.

A quarter of an hour following that, the impressive George Milner raced through on goal only to be brought down by McGann. Referee Paul Stonier pointed to the spot, brandishing the Lincoln shot-stopper with a yellow card in the process.

Craig Nelthorpe converted the resulting penalty, coolly striking the ball into the middle of the goal to make it 2-1 to the Nailers.

However, on 76 minutes, United equalised for the second time in the contest. Ex-Belper midfielder, Jonathan Williams’ free-kick was too hot for Overton to handle and Matthew Wilson was able to take advantage and bundle the ball home.

Overton made up for it just moments later, as he made a couple of fine saves to keep the score-line level.

The goal gave Lincoln a new sense of belief and they almost stole all 3 points in the 83rd minute, having a header from a corner cleared off the line.

Three minutes later, United substitute Kallum Smith received a straight red for a high-footed challenge. He could have few complaints, especially given that he was only on the pitch for five minutes.

With one minute of the 90 to go, Belper captain Alex Peterson’s towering header crashed against the inside of the post but somehow the ball didn’t cross the line.

In stoppage time, another substitute for the visitors, Kevin Hemagou, was given his marching orders. Firstly, he was booked for kicking the ball away and then Hemagou was sent off for repeated dissent.

Lincoln ended the game with just nine men but played their part in what was an entertaining match with the 2-2 draw being a fair result based on the balance of play.

It leaves Belper in sixth position in the league table on 30 points ahead of their Boxing Day clash with Sheffield FC, three points behind Lincoln who sit fifth.

Belper Town: Overton, Assenso, Clark, Robson, (Colbear 88), South, Peterson©, Curtis, Gordon, Duggan, (Hough 62), Milner, Nelthorpe.

Lincoln United: McGann, Blunden, (Hemagou 71), Matthews, Wright ©, Jacklin, Wilson, Norris, Williams, Cotton, Hutchinson, (Grimes 66), Garrick, (Smith 81).

Referee: Paul Stonier

Att: 176

Photos by Tim Harrison (click to enlarge)

 Comments From Grant Black

About the performance and result:

“I think we shaded it to be fair, I’ll be honest. I think we had the better of the chances, but there wasn’t much in it, there was never gonna be. Lincoln are a really good side because they’re fifth in the league but I thought it was a really good performance from us in tricky conditions obviously for both teams. But I thought we adapted well to that and I thought we played well. Like I say at 2-1, it was a bit of a scrappy goal to concede so that’s frustrating but I think it’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a team. We played Lincoln two or three games into the season and got tanked 5-2, could have been 10. They’ve strengthened since then but I think that’s a sign of how far we’ve come because we’ve strengthened so it’s a point we’ve taken off a team around us and two points we’ve stopped them from getting as well. So, all in all, I think it’s a good result.”

About Ross Duggan scoring on his debut:

“It’s always pleasing when you bring a new a player in and he starts like that. Obviously, he scored his goal and I think his all-round play was really good, he worked incredibly hard which we knew he was going to do. We’ve seen him, we know what he’s about and that’s why he’ll fit well into our group because he’s a hard-working lad. He chases everything down, doesn’t give defenders a second and he had four or five efforts as well which on another day might have gone in so I’m really impressed with him and obviously he’s made his mark straightaway and now, to obviously kick on and get more.”

About the conditions:

“I think anybody coming to watch; they would not have expected any kind of football to be played so I think again, credit to both teams, that they still tried to play and made it a really entertaining game for the fans that came through. So credit to both teams for that as well.”

About it being a dirty match:

“I think to be fair, the ref did quite well. In these conditions, it’s easy to get a bit carried away and ‘card-happy’ or not understand the conditions or game, but I thought the ref did really well in that aspect. I don’t think he had an option with the kid who got sent off for the first one and the second one, the lad has just got a yellow for pulling somebody back on an attack and then swings his arm to get sent off for the second one. So I think it was just a good, old-fashioned game of football in bad conditions but it was a good, entertaining game that we were happy to be involved in. I think we’d have taken a point before the game, definitely, for all the reasons that I’ve said. Being 2-1 up was frustrating a little bit but, that’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a team.”

About the season so far half-way through:

“I think the club would probably say that they’re in front of where they’d have expected to be. We got rid of 18-20 players at the start of the season and brought in a brand-new bunch so obviously it’s a process and I think that process is well in front of where we expected to be. We’re in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, we sat joint-fifth in the league with a game in hand on a couple of teams so I think we’ve got to be more than happy of where we’re at and not get carried away because there’s still 60 odd points left to play for yet. So we’ve a long way to get to where we want to be, but we wanted to be part of the play-off chasing pack at Christmas and we are. So on Boxing Day, another team around us, another important game for us. So, an overview of where we are is that we’re in front of where we should be and really happy with what we’re building and what we’re doing.”

Despite losing a 2-1 lead, Belper manager Grant Black takes positives from the draw with Lincoln United.

“I think we would have taken a point before the game, definitely. Being 2-1 up was frustrating a little bit, but, that’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a team,” Black said after the contest.

“I think we shaded it to be fair, I’ll be honest. I think we had the better of the chances, but there wasn’t much in it, there was never going to be.

Lincoln are a really good side because they’re fifth in the league, but I thought it was a really good performance from us in tricky conditions, obviously, for both teams. But I thought we adapted well to that and played well.”

Speaking about conceding the second equaliser, he said: “At 2-1, it was a bit of a scrappy goal to concede, so that’s frustrating but I think it’s a sign of how far we have come as a team. We played Lincoln two or three games into the season and got tanked 5-2, and it could have been 10.

They’ve strengthened since then, so it’s a point we have taken off a team around us and two points we’ve stopped them from getting as well. So, all in all, I think it’s a good result.”

New signing from Maltby Main, striker, Ross Duggan got off to a flying start for the Nailers, by scoring a well-taken goal on his debut for the club. Black was impressed with the forward, saying: “It’s always pleasing when you bring a new a player in and he starts like that.

Obviously, he scored his goal and I think his all-round play was really good, he worked incredibly hard which we knew he was going to do.

We’ve seen him, we know what he’s about and that’s why he’ll fit well into our group because he’s a hard-working lad. He chases everything down, doesn’t give defenders a second and he had four or five efforts as well which on another day might have gone in,” the Belper boss noted.

This is Belper’s final match before Christmas Day, with Black also giving his thoughts on the season so far, adding: “I think the club would probably say that they are in front of where they’d have expected to be and I think the process is well in front of where we expected it to be.

We’re in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, we sat joint-fifth in the league with a game in hand on a couple of teams so I think we’ve got to be more than happy with where we’re at and not get carried away because there’s still 60 odd points left to play for yet.

We’ve a long way to get to where we want to be, but we wanted to be part of the play-off chasing pack at Christmas and we are.

So, an overview of where we are is that we’re in front of where we should be and really happy with what we’re building and what we’re doing,” stated Black.

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