Belper Town 0, Mickleover Sports 0
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town played their first home pre-season game at their newly named Raygar Stadium and rewarded their fans who braved the awful weather, with a performance full of potential and promise for the new season ahead.
With manager Grant Black absent due to being on his honeymoon, team matters were in the capable hands of Mick Norbury who masterminded an effective display against Premier Division Mickleover Sports who had a number of new signings in their line up.
Belper fans were able to witness no less than 21 players given their opportunity to impress, and despite the visitors holding the edge in the first half, the Nailers had ample opportunity in the second period to have won the game comfortably.
Sports were indebted to ‘keeper James Goff who made at least three spectacular saves to keep the game scoreless at the end of 90 minutes.
The first half hour belonged in the main to the visitors who looked slightly sharper in their passing movements but couldn’t match this level when it came to finishing.
Jira Boula fired high and wide on 14 minutes, and the impressive Jack Storer worked his way into the Belper penalty area 2 minutes later and shot wide.
Boula came a little closer in the 24th minute and Belper ‘keeper Ryan Musselwhite scrambled the ball away at the foot of his near post.
Although Belper had enjoyed good spells of possession over this period, Zeph Thomas’s effort on the half hour was their first attempt on goal, and was high and wide.
While the introduction of substitutes at half time the Nailers improved considerably, while Mickleover found it much more difficult to create opportunities as they had done earlier in the game.
Belper looked more dangerous as the half wore on and if Zeph Thomas had converted a difficult chance on 49 minutes, it is conceivable that the Nailers might have gone on to a comfortable victory.
Cameron Clark’s cross from the left on 56 minutes caused panic in the Sports defence and an impressive Nathan Curtis provided a great cross just after the hour mark that Phil Watt headed towards the near post, and James Goff produced the first of his amazing saves.
Thomas almost caught Goff out at his far post after the Belper striker curled a speculative effort inches wide and George Milner put a 76th minute header just wide.
Goff produced wonder save number two to deny a fizzing ground shot from Zeph Thomas, and the ‘keeper was instrumental in keeping the Nailers out in the 82nd minute as shots rained in on the Mickleover goal.
Nathan Curtis was unlucky with a well struck volley that went just wide on 84 minutes, and perhaps the best chance of all came a minute later when Charlie Dawes ran behind the Mickleover back line only to graze the cross bar as he attempted to beat the onrushing Goff.
It was an impressive second half for Belper who more than matched their more illustrious opponents and with 21 of the 23 players available on view; the task of narrowing down to an 18 or so squad is going to be difficult to say the least.
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Kozluk (Bryant), Ridley (Clark), Bertram (Steele), South (Colbear), Watt (Blades), McDonald (Curtis) Gordon (Nelthorpe), Froggatt (Milner), Robson (Waldron), Thomas (Dawes). Unused subs: Wright and Thompson.