• Nigel Oldrini

Belper exit FA Trophy on penalties as Newcastle prevail

Belper Town’s hopes of a run in this season’s FA Trophy were extinguished when they lost to Newcastle Town on penalties on Saturday, after the sides had drawn 2-2.

Photographic evidence strongly suggests that the Nailers had scored a third goal when Brodie Litchfield’s flick appeared to cross the line but neither the referee or his assistant were in a position to award what would have been Belper’s third, and possibly winning goal.

With Piteu Crouz unavailable loan signing James Carvell was included in the starting line up, and with Charlie Dawes having left the club and Alex Peterson self isolating, Joel Spence and Cole Edwards were drafted in a substitutes.

The Nailers are always good starters to games and this one was no different as Steve McDonnell drilled a free-kick straight at Dominic Kurasic in the Newcastle goal.

Sam Wright warmed the fingers of Kurasic with a rasping drive from the edge of the penalty area as the Newcastle ‘keeper tipped the ball over the cross bar, and Derry Robson caught a Nathan Curtis cross perfectly on the volley and the ball sped narrowly over the target.

The Nailers took the lead on 38 minutes when Curtis’s cross shot curled over the ‘keeper to fall just inside the far post.

Belper then appeared to have a firm grip on the tie when Wright hit a fine shot from 18 yards into the roof of the net after Danny South had set up the opportunity.

Belper looked comfortable at the half time stage but they were soon to be undone by two strikes of undoubted quality from Castle to put the tie on a knife edge.

Ryan McClean stunned the Nailers with a bullet of a shot from 20 yards that curled beyond Leigh Overton who was helpless to prevent the ball billowing the net, and in the 58th minute a careless tackle from Wright gave the hosts a shooting opportunity from 25 yards distant.

Up stepped Joe Berks to hit a vicious dipping shot directly into the net with Overton again powerless to do anything about it.

James Melhado missed a great chance for Castle in the 70th minute and the Nailers were looking a little shaky at this stage of the game. Melhado hit the upright from an acute angle on 75 minutes, and then came the questionable ‘did it or didn’t it’ incident when the ball appeared to go over the line, which might have put Belper back in the driving seat.

Was it in? Belper felt they should have had a third goal. Photo: Mike Smith

Ryan McClean might have won it outright for Castle but blazed over in the 87th minute then Curtis had a good shot beaten away two minutes afterwards, then contrived to head wide seconds later.

Belper had a last gasp opportunity to clinch the tie in added time, but Steve Ridley’s attempt got no further than the defensive wall sending the game into a penalty competition to determine who progressed to the next round.

Craig Nelthorpe fired the first penalty home in confident style, but Ridley’s effort was easily stopped by Kurasic and despite Litchfield, South and Cory Gregory converting theirs, Newcastle had a perfect set of five penalty conversions and duly claimed their place in the next stage of the competition.

Newcastle Town: Kurasic, Melhado, Fishman, Vale, Askey, Dennis, McClean, Van De Laan, Howell (Cole 45), Chimenes, Berks. Unused subs: Horley, Azam, Baxter, Amedu.

Belper Town: Overton, Rhodes, Nelthorpe, Gregory, South, Robinson, Robson, Wright, McDonnell (Litchfield 47), Carvell ((Woodcock 36) (Ridley 75)), Curtis. Subs not used: Spence, Edwards.