Emirates F A Cup – Preliminary Round
Belper Town 1, Sporting Khalsa 1
Belper Town endured a frustrating afternoon after dominating this FA Cup tie and missed an 87th minute penalty that should have given the Nailers passage into the next round.
It was certainly a successful afternoon for Sporting’s keeper Sam Arnold who kept his side in the tie with a series of good saves, although Belper contrived to miss a hatful of opportunities that regularly came their way.
Steve Ridley came in for Cameron Clark at left back but otherwise the Belper line up remained the same as the previous two games.
Sporting Khalsa play their football in the Midland Football League, a step lower than Belper and had made a good start by winning their opening three league games.
The Nailers almost took the lead in the first minute after Kyle Bryant had released Nathan Curtis down the right wing, and from the resulting cross Craig Nelthorpe hit a well struck volley that the ‘keeper pushed on to the upright.
Steve Ridley just hit a shot just wide, before good approach play from Belper in the 12th minute ended with a Zeph Thomas shot that went high and wide.
The Nailers’ promising start was curtailed when Sporting took advantage of gaps in the Belper defence in the 15th minute and Josh McKenzie was left completely on his own and slipped the ball past Ryan Musselwhite virtually at his leisure.
From this point on Belper did everything they could to get back on level terms, but just couldn’t find their way through, and past Sam Arnold.
Zeph Thomas provided an excellent cross for Nathan Curtis and his powerful header was touched over the cross bar by Arnold, then Curtis turned provider with a first time cross, and Riece Bertram headed a good opportunity wide of the target.
Belper were dominant in this period and when Craig Nelthorpe connected with a perfectly time volley in the 35th minute which the ‘keeper somehow saved, it was easy to think that it wasn’t going to be Belper’s day.
Riece Bertram saw a close range effort blocked on the line and the normally clinical Danny South missed the target with a header on the stroke of half time.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Belper pushing hard for the elusive equaliser.
A Zeph Thomas over head kick went just wide in the 49th minute, and Danny South looked exasperated when he headed another opportunity just wide of goal.
Thomas headed wide following a corner kick on the hour mark, then came huge relief when the equaliser came in the 65th minute when Alex Peterson had just enough time to prod the ball goal bound, and it bobbled over the line with the ‘keeper helpless to prevent it.
The Nailers appeared to let up on the pressure after the goal and Sporting almost retook the lead when Carlo Franco burst through and looked certain to score, but instead of going into the goal, the ball came back off the inside of the post.
Derry Robson’s shot in the 77th minute was again brilliantly saved by Arnold, but with the game entering its closing stages, an excellent opportunity presented itself.
George Milner had used his pace to latch on to a pass in the 87th minute, and he was brought down by Leon Miles inside the penalty area.
In form Nathan Curtis stepped up to take the spot kick but he put the ball too close the ‘keeper who had guessed correctly and kept his team in the tie.
The penalty miss could have had greater consequence as the game entered added on time because Sporting’s Sean Williams fired in a low drive from just inside the penalty area and Ryan Musselwhite somehow pushed the effort over the cross bar.
The Nailers now replay the tie on Tuesday 3rd September (K.O. 7.45pm).
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Bryant, Ridley, Bertram, South, Peterson, Gordon (Robson 74), Nelthorpe, Thomas (Milner 64), Curtis, Dawes (McDonnell 53) Unused sub: Watt.
Clark, Waldram, Kozluk
Sporting Khalsa: Arnold, Franco, Worsey, Miles, Robinson, Woodhouse (Singh 64), Armstrong, Perks, McKenzie (Meese 88), Westwood (Whittaker 64), Williams. Unused subs: Perry, Taylor, McGrady, Smith.
Referee: Tom Hales