Evo-Stik – Division One East
Cleethorpes Town 0, Belper Town 1
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town produced a perfect away performance to record an excellent victory against in form Cleethorpes, who probably saw their play off hopes evaporate after this defeat.
The Nailers brushed away the last two indifferent displays against Loughborough and Pickering and produced a high energy and disciplined performance that went along way to avenging their embarrassing 5-1 home defeat, inflicted by the Owls way back in September.
Manager Grant Black tweaked his starting line up to accommodate the absences of Alfred Thompson (broken arm) and Craig Nelthorpe (suspension) and opted to start Liam Owen and Jordan Deacey in midfield while Danny Gordon reverted to the right back slot.
He also switched roles for Danny South and Alex Peterson, with South partnering Isaac Assenso in defence and the Nailers skipper moving up to centre forward.
It was a team line up that proved to be very effective from the start and the Owls were pegged back in the early stages as the Nailers looked at home on the hard but grassy surface.
George Milner had an early opportunity to score when, in the 4th minute his pace took him beyond the defensive back line, but he wasn’t able to control the high bounce of the ball.
Nevertheless, Belper’s bright start was enough to unsettle the hosts who might have thought it was going to be a more comfortable afternoon.
Piteu Crouz looked particularly lively and was the creator of Belper’s goal in the 16th minute.
He received the ball on the right side after Belper had pressured Cleethorpes into errors, and the tricky winger twisted this way and that before sliding the ball across the six yard box from the bye line where Alex Peterson was waiting to tap the ball home.
Belper retained the lions share of possession for the next 15 minutes or so, however Cleethorpes, who were adept at playing the ball out from the back, began to make the Nailers work harder in their own half of the pitch.
Brody Robertson should have done better with the hosts’ first real chance on 37 minutes but put his shot well wide of the target
After soaking up some pressure, Belper came back into it in the latter stages of the half and might have extended their lead on 41 minutes when a superb corner kick from Danny Gordon slipped past everyone in the six yard area.
Then in the last seconds Piteu Crouz nearly fooled Owls ‘keeper Theo Richardson with a cross shot that just missed the angle of the goal on the far side.
The second half began well for Belper who frustrated their opponents particularly in the first 15 minutes.
Three consecutive corner kicks put the Owls under pressure, and in the 53rd minute George Milner side footed a presentable opportunity wide.
Alex Peterson had to snatch at a chance created for him by Crouz who nudged the ball into his path, but his effort went straight into the ‘keepers’ arms.
The Nailers were forced to stand their ground as the home side upped their energy levels, but such was the quality of the team performance, Cleethorpes weren’t able to create a single opportunity during the remainder of the game.
With just four games left to play, the Nailers should now to finish comfortably inside the top 10 places which would be a great springboard for better things next season.
Cleethorpes Town: Richardson, Topliss, McKay, Richardson (Disley 57), Bloomer, Donald, Robertson (Batty 68), Flett, Vernon, North. Unused subs: Boswell, Steel, Walker.
Belper Town: Malkowski, Gordon, Clark, Robson, South, Assenso, Deacey, Owen, Peterson (Colbear 90), Milner (Curtis 63), Crouz. Unused subs: Boyall, Dudley.
Referee: Christopher Reeson