BetVictor Northern Premier S/East
Belper Town 2, Newcastle Town 2
Belper Town retained their unbeaten start to the season in the league with a battling draw against Newcastle Town, in their first league fixture since the end of September.
The Nailers’ exhilarating F A Cup run, F A Trophy loss against Stamford together with last week’s postponement at Glossop had seen them fall well behind in their fixtures, although at the start of this game they still occupied 8th place despite having played just 6 games. Newcastle arrived at the Raygar Stadium having had a disappointing start to their league campaign with only 2 wins and 2 draws in their opening 11 games.
On paper at least, the visitors looked as though they would be the ideal opposition for Belper to restart their league campaign, but as so often happens at this level of football, the reality proved different. Craig Nelthorpe returned to the starting line up following his untimely suspension that meant he missed the Notts County game, and the Nailers started the contest at a blistering pace that had the visitors hanging on grimly.
Belper owned the first twenty minutes but couldn’t score the all important goal that would have changed the outlook of the game. Alex Peterson’s shot in the 3rd minute was deflected to the near post where Nathan Curtis couldn’t get the angle right on his close range effort, then Peterson split the Newcastle defence to provide Curtis with another opportunity but he over hit his shot past the far post.
The Nailers had a good penalty shout in the 19th minute when Peterson was clearly shoved in the back as he shaped up to head the ball, but the referee didn’t see the incident in the same way as the majority of the crowd. Alarm bells rang loudly though a moment later when the visitors broke swiftly and caught out the Nailers’ defence, and they were fortunate that Newcastle didn’t make the most of the situation.
However within a minute the Nailers were caught out again after losing possession in midfield, and Charlie Scott picked out the marauding Michael Conlon who tucked away the opportunity. Revitalised Newcastle nearly had a second goal in the 26th minute after the referee spotted a foul in amongst a group of players and awarded a spot kick, however Charlie Scott’s penalty was brilliantly pushed against the upright by Ryan Musselwhite.
The Nailers had lost their way a little at this stage and the visitors carried a threat that hadn’t been expected from a team lying in the lower reaches of the league. Kyle Bryant helped kick start a revival with a well struck shot that fizzed just past the far post, and with the game in the last throws of the first half, the Nailers were awarded a penalty kick.
Bizarrely, Belper thought they had scored when the ball was bundled into the goal, but the referee had already blown for a penalty prior to the ball crossing the line.
Craig Nelthorpe stepped up to despatch an unstoppable spot kick low into the corner to send the teams in at half time all square.
Nathan Curtis nearly got Belper off to a great start to the second period after Alex Peterson sent him on his way and although the Belper striker did all the hard work in battling through the Newcastle defence, he blasted his shot high over the target from just inside the penalty area.
The Nailers breathed a sigh of relief on 56 minutes when Castle’s Michael Conlon had a good shooting opportunity only to put his effort over the cross bar, however the visitors stunned home supporters with a goal on 66 minutes scored by Tommy van der Laan who struck a pile driver from outside the penalty area and bulged the net in the top corner to put his side back in front.
The Nailers stepped up their efforts to get back on level terms and on 71 minutes substitute Sam Wright surged forward and forced Raajan Gill into a brilliant diving save, Unfortunately Alex Peterson put the follow up shot over the bar. The Nailers looked to be staring at their first league defeat, and with Newcastle looking dangerous each time they broke away they couldn’t afford to send too many players up front when they attacked.
However salvation came on 77 minutes when Alex Peterson met a cross to the far post and his shot took a deflection off the knee of Taylor Attrell and ended up in the back of the net for the equaliser. The game continued to ebb and flow with both teams convinced they could find a winner, but in the event, a share of the spoils was probably the right result.
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Bryant (Dawes 73), Clark, Bertram (Wright 61), South, Watt, Robson, Nelthorpe (Swaine 66), Peterson, Gordon, Curtis. Unused sub: Ridley, Milner.
Newcastle Town: Gill, Conlon, Morley, Attrell, Askey, Dennis, Scott, van der Laan T, Howell, van der Laan J, McClean (Needham 84). Unused subs: Bradbury, Ward, Cartwright, Melhado.
Referee: Ben Tomlinson