Evo-Stik – Division One East
Wisbech Town 1, Belper Town 2
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town earned an important victory at the Fenland Stadium which took them to the fringes of the play off places.
It was a gritty and hardworking performance littered with free kicks and frustrating refereeing decisions, but the stand out event of the afternoon was Sebastian Malkowski’s excellent penalty save on the cusp of half time that gave the Nailers the boost they needed for the second half.
With Derek Ubah moving on to pastures new, club skipper Alex Peterson came back into the team alongside Isaac Assenso in the centre of defence while Cameron Clark returned at left back to allow Assenso to slot in for the injured Sam Colbear.
The Nailers conceded three free kicks in dangerous areas inside the first 3 minutes and from one of them Toby Hilliard was inches away from sending the Fenman into the lead with an unchallenged header.
However it was Belper who scored first in the 8th minute following a good cross from Craig Nelthorpe that caused havoc in the Wisbech six yard area, and they had already blocked two shots before George Milner fired the ball just inside the post.
The game became very scrappy with both sides struggling to put more than two or three passes together and with the free kick count increasing, particularly against Belper.
Isaac Assenso’s illegal challenge against Michael Frew indirectly led to the Fenmen’s equaliser on 24 minutes.
Player manager Danny Setchell’s free kick was deflected for a corner kick but from the resulting set piece, Jon Fairweather rose unchallenged to head home from 8 yards.
Another free kick could have resulted in further punishment for the Nailers, but fortunately Michael Frew snatched at the opportunity and put his volley over the top.
Frew then headed another chance wide on 37th minute after Belper had again fallen foul of the referee, and then on the stroke of half time, Alex Peterson executed an obvious push on the Fenmen’s centre forward leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty.
Danny Setchell struck the spot kick well enough, however Sebastian Malkowski saved brilliantly, and Sam Murphy compounded the miss by putting his follow up shot wide.
The Nailers looked stronger in the second half and certainly had the lions share of possession, even though it was hard work to create much with it.
However a Belper break in the 62nd minute was significant in that they worked the ball up to George Milner who had the presence of mind to help it on to the recently introduced Nathan Curtis.
Curtis took his opportunity brilliantly, striking the ball with pace and accuracy to beat James Connell at his near post.
Derry Robson was upended in the penalty area minutes later but the referee was unmoved, and as the Nailers grew in strength, Danny South’s towering header was kicked off the line by Ollie Gale to keep the hosts in the game.
Wisbech had the ball in the Belper net on 81 minutes, however the referee had spotted an earlier hand ball by Jack Keeble and promptly disallowed it.
Danny South capped a hard working display when he fired George Milner’s lay off just over the cross bar with 5 minutes to go.
It was an untidy disjointed sort of game, but one that the Nailers deserved to win due to their battling, never say die quality on the day.
Wisbech Town: Connell, Millson, Keeble, Fairweather, Gaughran, McQuaid (Gale 71), Murphy, Setchell, Frew, Hilliard (Shackleton 82), Harnwell. Unused subs: Maddison, Hart.
Belper Town: Malkowski, Thompson, Clark, Robson, Peterson (Deacy 87), Assenso, Nelthorpe, Gordon (Owen 85), South, Milner, Crouz (Curtis 52). Unused sub: Mackie
Referee: Chris Reeson