Evo-Stik League – Division One East
Belper Town 3, Ossett United 2
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town staged a remarkable second half comeback to claim a famous victory over play off hunting Ossett United.
On a glorious Easter Saturday afternoon the Nailers returned to the Silver X Stadium on the back of two excellent away wins at Cleethorpes and Stamford, to face an Ossett side whose recent good form had seen them rise to 3rd in the league
The Nailers were without striker George Milner due to an ankle injury so Nathan Curtis came in as his replacement, otherwise the same team that has picked up 6 points from the last two away fixtures was selected.
Ossett were focussed on maximum points from their remaining 3 games to ensure they remained in a play off position which would be a great achievement for a club that underwent major changes during the last close season when the two Ossett clubs “Town’ and ‘Albion’ merged .
A stop start first half had an end of season feel to it as the hard pitch was not conducive to flowing football.
Former FC United of Manchester record scorer Tom Greaves had the afternoon’s first attempt on goal in the 5th minute but Seb Malkowski was equal to it, then in a lightning Belper break Piteu Crouz switched the play to Nathan Curtis but he allowed the ball to run wide and left himself too much to do.
In a similar break on 19 minutes Alex Peterson tried to feed the unmarked Curtis but his pass was cut out, and then Liam Owen had an effort blocked on 23 minutes.
Belper came closest to a goal in this period a minute later when Isaac Assenso sent a header from a corner kick against the angle of the goal with United ‘keeper Brett Souter well beaten.
The visitors came into the game more as the half progressed and it looked quite likely that they would score through open play.
However when the goal came it came from a set piece situation after the Nailers had conceded a free kick just outside the penalty area in the 35th minute.
Adam Priestly stepped up to take the kick and fooled everyone by drilling the ball low under the defensive wall and past a flat footed Seb Malkowski who had clearly been taken equally by surprise.
The Nailers came close to an equaliser in the closing moments when Danny South nodded on a free kick and Alex Peterson headed straight at the ‘keeper.
The second half began poorly for the Nailers who conceded a second goal on 48 minutes when Andy Monkhouse met a corner kick at the near post and headed the ball firmly into the back of the net.
The Nailers looked deflated at this point but somehow they managed to pull themselves back from the brink and excited the crowd with a energised and exciting recovery.
Danny South and Danny Gordon had come close to reducing the arrears before they started the come
back for real in the 58th minute.
Sam Colbear’s low trajectory long throw was flicked on by South, and Derry Robson headed the ball into the net from less than 6 yards out, then barely two minutes later Piteu Crouz stretched the visitor’s defence to the extent that Ossett skipper Alex McQuade felled the Belper man inside the penalty area, and it was an easy decision for the referee to award a spot kick.
Crouz took the penalty himself and made no mistake from 12 yards.
The Nailers were a different team to that of the first half and it was Ossett who were now looking shaky, so Belper pressed home their advantage and were rewarded with the eventual winner in the 74th minute.
Nailers’ talisman Danny South was the match winner with a powerful header from a corner kick that flew past the ‘keeper to complete a remarkable turnaround, and a shell shocked Ossett side just didn’t have the willpower to come back from that.
Belper Town. Malkowski, Gordon, Clark (Colbear 10), Robson, South, Assenso, Deacey, Owen, Peterson, Curtis. Crouz Unused subs:Boyall, Dudley, Pugh
Ossett United: Souter, Burke (Church 88), Chantler, McQuade, Gay, Gregory, Priestley, Monkhouse, Greaves, Basic Chippendale 77), Kham (Corner 61). Unused subs: Porritt, Foley.
Referee: Neil Allsop
Grant Black Reaction
Belper Town manager Grant Black was a happy man following Saturday’s win over Ossett United, because not only did his team win their third game on the trot; he also came out on top against his former employer from last season.
‘It was a tough test for us especially as we are down to the bare bones in terms of squad numbers’, he said, ‘when they scored their second at the start of the second half, clearly what we had been doing wasn’t working.’
‘I was proud of the way the lads came back at them, We started to turn their fullbacks and things started to happen for us.’
‘We turned the game on its head and and when Danny South headed the third goal Ossett looked dejected and out of ideas.’
‘It was important to keep their striker Tom Greaves quiet and we did a great job on him and that was crucial for us.’
Cameron Clark was substituted after only 10 minutes despite not having sustained an injury and Black explained why he had done this.
‘We felt that we needed to change things because Cameron was finding it difficult to contain their winger, and he had already received a yellow card, so we thought it was best to take him off rather than risk going down to 10 men.’
‘Cameron understood the situation and his reaction was very professional.’
The club has completed some important business in the last week or so by securing the services of George Milner, and more recently Danny South on contracts. Milner will stay with the Nailers until the end of the 2019/20 season and South until 2021.
It is all very good news for the club especially as Grant Black and his assistant Micky Norbury have committed themselves for at least two more seasons.
‘We are obviously very pleased that the club have been able to offer George and Danny deals to keep them at Belper,’ said Black. ‘We have spoken to all of the players who have indicated a willingness to stay with us for next season, and we have also targeted potential additions with the aim of strengthening the squad.’
The Nailers will have a say in the race for the play offs and the relegation battles as they faced Sheffield FC on Easter Monday, and Spalding United on the last Saturday of the season. However Spalding may benefit from AFC Mansfield’s resignation from the league due to ground grading issues.
There seems likely to be a different league format for next season which could see the Nailers returning to clubs such as Newcastle, Market Drayton and Kidsgrove, however details have yet to be confirmed.