BetVictor Northern Premier S/East
Sheffield FC 1, Belper Town 1
Belper Town had to settle for a point in the Boxing Day clash against Sheffield FC, but could have claimed maximum points if Evan Garnett had converted a penalty kick late in the game.
Manager Grant Black drafted in Kyle Bryant at right back in place of Harley Kozluk as the Nailers looked to build on their two consecutive victories and consolidate their position as one of the League’s front runners. Sheffield were playing their first home game in two months due to heavy rainfall making the pitch unplayable. Mercifully the downpour that deluged Belper supporters as they travelled up to Dronfield didn’t reach The Home of Football and the game went ahead as planned.
Spectators were treated to a lively Bank Holiday encounter with both teams enjoying varying good spells with the only surprise being that there weren’t more goals in the game. Rieves Boocock missed a half chance for the hosts in the 4th minute and soon afterwards Ted Cribley’s solo run and shot wasn’t too far away.
Belper’s first meaningful efforts came courtesy of Derry Robson in the 8th minute when he first had a shot blocked from Nathan Curtis’s cross then his follow up effort sped past the far post. As the Nailers pressed forward they were rewarded with a goal in the 11th minute when Nathan Curtis’s snap shot from a corner kick was kicked into the net by Sheffield’s Ted Cribley who was credited with an own goal.
The Nailers should have capitalised on some of their promising positions as they troubled the hosts on either flank, however Sheffield always had the ability to break effectively and Regan Hutchinson went close with a shot on 22 minutes and Ashley Grayson missed a much better opportunity 6 minutes later. Ted Cribley’s 39th minute effort fizzed past the upright and as Sheffield realised that they were troubling the Belper defence more and more, the Nailers task became increasingly difficult.
Belper might have added to their lead just before halftime when Evan Garnett’s well placed header from a Nathan Curtis cross was plucked out of the air by Jonathan Hedge to set up a tense second half battle. It wasn’t the best of starts for the Nailers who had to combat fierce pressure straight from the whistle. Sheffield’s confidence levels soared when Marc Newsham’s header cannoned of the cross bar in the 48th minute.
Evan Garnett’s speculative effort from nearly 30 yards forced Hedge into a spectacular save, and the Nailers created many more promising moves that fizzled out to nothing. The hosts meanwhile repeatedly forced Belper back into their own half and won a series of corner kicks that the Nailers defended well. They were undone however by a shot from distance by Ted Cribley on 72 minutes that went just inside the post and gave Ryan Musselwhite absolutely no chance of saving, and the teams were level.
Sheffield forced the Nailers to defend as they searched for a winner, but the last 10 minutes belonged to Belper who suddenly stepped up their game sparked by a missed penalty on 86 minutes. Riece Bertram was tripped as he ran into the box giving Evan Garnett the opportunity to add to his goals tally from the penalty spot. His shot was too near the ‘keeper who guessed the right way and he parried the ball away from danger.
Belper threw all they had at Sheffield and one particular goal mouth scramble lasted several seconds with the ball refusing to go over the line, and at some point the hosts were saved by the upright. The Nailers had left their charge too late in the game and when the golden opportunity had arrived for another vital win, they couldn’t capitalise, and a share of the spoils was arguably a fair outcome…
Sheffield FC: Hedge, Ludlam, Turner, Prior (Roney 90), McLean, Chapman, Cribley, Grayson, Newsham, Boocock (Wonham 80), Hutchinson (Chappell 66). Unused subs: Stacey, Magee.
Belper Town: Musselwhite, Bryant, Clark, Robson, South, Bertram, Gordon (Dawes 65), Wright, Peterson (Milner 78), Garnett, Curtis (Wardle 74). Unused subs: Ridley, Kozluk.
Referee: Scott Mason