Evo-Stik – Division One East
Belper Town 4, Stocksbridge Park Steels 1
By Danny Bloomer
Belper Town made it five league games unbeaten with a convincing 4-1 victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels at the Silver X Stadium.
A double from Danny South and a goal apiece from Derry Robson and George Milner ensured the Nailers claimed all three points, despite going behind through Scott Ruthven’s early strike.
Manager Grant Black opted to name an unchanged side from the one which drew 2-2 away at Marske last time out. Mason Coy and Anthony Mackie re-claimed their spots on the substitutes bench.
Although the away side went into the clash ten places behind the Nailers before kick-off, it was they who opened the scoring inside five minutes. The Belper defence failed to deal with a long throw into the box, which allowed Ruthven to pounce on the loose ball and fire emphatically into the bottom corner.
The hosts, however, responded well to going behind and almost found themselves on level terms on 15 minutes when Sam Colbear headed Craig Nelthorpe’s corner over the cross bar from inside the six-yard box.
Despite Belper’s growing dominance, Stocksbridge still posed a threat on the counter attack and Sebastian Malkowski had to be at his acrobatic best to tip over Brodie Litchfield’s powerful long ranged effort.
Just before the half hour mark, Belper should have got back on level terms. Robson delivered a superb ball across the face of goal for Nathan Curtis, but an incredible goal line block from Jordan Lemon denied him a certain equaliser.
Five minutes later, Curtis had another great chance for the Nailers when he found himself in on goal, but his left footed finish lacked conviction and David Robson saved well on his first appearance for the Steels.
The Belper number seven was guilty of squandering another guilt edge opportunity just before the break as once again Robson got down well to smother his shot.
Eventually the home side made their pressure pay in additional time of the first half. Alfred Thompson volleyed a lovely cross to the back post for South to head powerfully into the bottom corner.
The visitors did not let the equaliser affect them though and five minutes into the second period they should have re-taken the lead. Thompson’s poor clearance fell straight at the feet of former Nailer Danny Frost, but Malkowski made a good save with his feet to deny him.
Following the early second half scare, Belper then began to turn on the style and almost took the lead on 53 minutes. Nelthorpe’s cross from the left found Curtis unmarked in the area, but his effort was blocked.
The Nailers did not have to wait long for their next chance and this time they took it. Nelthorpe once again provided the service down the left as his cross found the head of Robson to nod in his second goal in three matches.
The game threatened to boil over throughout and mid-way through the second half it did. Milner reacted badly to a poor challenge from Rory Coleman which saw both players booked, meaning the Stocksbridge left back picked up his second yellow card of the afternoon.
Belper made their extra man advantage count eight minutes from time when Robson turned the provider for Milner as his excellent cross to the back post was headed into an empty net from underneath the cross bar.
Just four minutes later, the home side put the icing on the cake when South prodded home Liam Owen’s cross for his second goal of the afternoon, and his fourth in the last three matches.
Substitute Piteu Crouz caused the visitors all sorts of problems following his introduction from the bench and he almost made it 5-1 when his first-time effort smashed the cross bar.
The victory means Belper have moved to just four points off the play-off places, which sets them up perfectly for Tuesday’s Integro League Cup semi-final at Evo-Stik Premier League table toppers Farsley Celtic.
Belper Town: Malkowski, Thompson, Clark, Robson (Owen 85), Assenso, Colbear, Curtis (Crouz 58), Gordon, South ©, Milner, Nelthorpe (Deacey 87). Unused subs: Mackie, Coy.
Stocksbridge Park Steels: Robson, Lemon, Coleman, Turner, Mcfadyen ©, Fieling, Rhodes (Charlesworth 82), Langton, Ruthven (Wiles 82), Frost (Mangham 82), Litchfield. Unused subs: Swinburn, Thompson.
Referee: Mark Tinsley
Grant Black was happy with his side’s second half performance after Belper Town were forced to come from behind to beat Stocksbridge Park Steels 4-1 at the Silver X Stadium.
Scott Ruthven had given the visitors the lead inside the opening five minutes but a double from Danny South and a goal apiece from Derry Robson and George Milner ensured the Nailers picked up a fourth win in five league games.
He said: “First half [it was not] good enough and not the expectations that we set. I thought we were a bit lethargic and a bit flat footed, second to things and conceded a sloppy goal.
But we nicked a goal on half time which gave us a bit of a boost and we had the chance at half time to have a few choice words to up the standard. We put it on the players to turn things around which I thought they did. The second half was a fantastic performance from us.”
The game threatened to boil over throughout as both sides’ felt they were on the wrong side of referee Mark Tinsley’s decisions. Midway through the second half it eventually did as Stocksbridge left back Rory Coleman picked up a second booking for a fiery altercation with Belper striker Milner.
Boss Black was pleased with the way his side maintained their discipline for the majority of the encounter: “We have been asked the question a few times about our discipline and I don’t think we have had a sending off this season that I would say has been deserved. I think we are very disciplined, George [Milner] reacted slightly at one point, but he had been kicked for 85 minutes. Yes, we don’t want him to react, but I can understand his frustration at that point.
We said at half time don’t get dragged into a battle. We don’t need to do that, we have good enough footballers to just go out and play and if we do that, we will win the game and we did that.”
Nailers captain South notched his third and fourth goals in three matches, including the equaliser on the stroke of half time.
Black thought that goal was key to a change in his side’s fortunes during the second period: “We knew we were not at our best and I think a goal on the stroke of half time can have that affect.
You hope the team that has conceded it go in a bit deflated and it gives us that little boost. You are sort of starting from scratch, it’s like 0-0 at half time where you can go again and not have to chase a goal to get level and leave gaps. You treat it as 0-0 and I thought we played the game plan second half to perfection.”
Belper next travel to Farsley Celtic in the semi-final of the Integro League Cup. The Villagers are currently top of the Evo-Stik Premier League and Black is excited to see his side test themselves against a team of that quality.
He said: “It’s a chance to go and put yourself against a team in the Evo-Stick Premier League that look like they could win it, they are a really good side. Let’s go and see where we are at, we can hold our own at this level and we held our own against Matlock in the previous round of one of the other cups [Derbyshire Senior Cup].
A lot of the lads are chomping at the bit to get to that level so I just said to them there keep yourself in the team and Tuesday will give you a guide of where you are at and if you are ready to step up.”