BetVictor Northern Premier S/East
Belper Town 3, Frickley Athletic 1
By Nigel Oldrini
Belper Town maintained their 100% start to the season with a home victory over Frickley Athletic at the Raygar Stadium on Tuesday evening.
It’s 17 seasons since the Nailers last won their first two league fixtures and they will be looking to extend their good start to three, when they visit Ilkeston Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
They also contrived to miss a penalty late in the game, which would have made the score line very convincing, however there were times when the Nailers relied on good fortune and poor finishing to keep them on track for the win.
Manager Grant Black selected the same eleven that started at Market Drayton with the only change on the bench being the inclusion of Steve Ridley in place of Sam Colbear.
Frickley’s Jake Curry had the first direct shot of the evening in the 4th minute although it was a comfortable save for Ryan Musselwhite.
Belper suffered their first scare of the game when Alex Peterson’s back pass fell short and put the Nailers in trouble, culminating in a free kick awarded on the edge of the area.
Jacob Hazel, after much deliberation sent the free kick high over the cross bar.
Belper were enjoying the lion’s share of possession in these early stages and on 11 minutes Zeph Thomas wasn’t too far away with a header from an Alex Peterson cross.
Ryan Musselwhite was instrumental in keeping the Nailers on level terms when he parried a fierce Hazel strike on 14 minutes after the visitor’s had caught Belper on the break, then Cameron Clark blocked a follow up shot to preserve the status quo.
Home fans breathed another sigh of relief in the 18th minute when Jack McMenemy looked certain to execute a simple lob over Musselwhite but fortunately the ball went over the cross bar.
Zeph Thomas saw a shot blocked on the line as the Nailers stepped up the pace and were unfortunate not to have taken the lead when a curling Craig Nelthorpe free kick was touched on to the upright by Thomas Jackson in the visitor’s goal.
Despite Belper’s possession and effort it was the visitor’s who took the lead on 33 minutes when Sam Liversedge headed home following a corner kick that Belper couldn’t clear.
Their lead lasted only 5 minutes as the ever reliable Belper skipper Danny South powered home a header at the far post following a cross from the left, however even after the relief of an equaliser Frickley looked the team more likely to score again.
The second period started with the visitors in the ascendancy but in the 49th minute the Nailers were back in the lead.
Good hold up play from Zeph Thomas and a short pass into the path of Nathan Curtis resulted in the Belper striker’s shot looping up off a Frickley defender leaving the ‘keeper incapable of preventing the ball going into the net.
Soon afterwards great work from Craig Nelthorpe saw Charlie Dawes head his excellent cross back across the face of goal, and then Sam Liversedge had a shot blocked by Danny South as the visitors reminded the Nailers than there was more work to be done.
Zeph Thomas and Danny Gordon both had shots saved in quick succession before a quick breakaway led to a third goal for Belper on 78 minutes.
Substitute Steve McDonnell was sent on his way with a pass from inside the Belper half and he outpaced the visitor’s defence to strike a low shot under the advancing ‘keeper.
Frickley were bending under the pressure and when Craig Nelthorpe was blatantly tripped deep inside the area, Belper had the chance to put the game well out of reach.
Nelthorpe opted to take the spot kick himself but struck the foot of the post, and the miss gave Frickley a boost they weren’t expecting.
Although the visitors tried to fight back the Nailers were in control, although with 3 minutes left a goal mouth scramble was alleviated when Musselwhite safely grabbed the ball and the Nailers were home and dry.
It was comfortable outcome for the Nailers then, although not without a scare or two along the way.
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Bryant, Clark, Bertram, South, Peterson, Gordon, Nelthorpe, Thomas (Milner 73), Curtis (Robson 84), Dawes (McDonnell 65) Unused sub: Ridley, Watt.
Frickley Athletic: Jackson, McLean, Pugh, Jordan (Bowring 87), Harrison, Prior, Cable, Liversedge, McMenemy, Currie (Russon 87), Hazel. Unused subs: Joel, Bodle, Hogg.
Referee: Daniel Smith