• Nigel Oldrini

REPORT: Nailers are held in top-of-the-table clash

Belper Town had to settle for a point despite creating the better chances in their top-of-the-table tussle against Worksop Town on Saturday.

Worksop are amongst the favourites for promotion and this contest lived up to all the pre-game hype and was thrilling for the spectators of both clubs.

The Nailers squandered the first of four excellent opportunities in the opening minute. Steve McDonnell found himself goal side of the Tigers’ defence but struck a tame shot at the approaching goalkeeper.

Leigh Overton saved an effort from Gavin Allott in the visitors’ first attack of the game, but it was all Belper in the opening 20 minutes and an 11th minute free-kick led to the opening goal.

Worksop, and perhaps nearly everyone in the ground, expected a direct shot but in a clever move, McDonnell passed the ball into the path of the unmarked Piteu Crouz and he curled a delightful effort around the ‘keeper just inside the far post.

The game evened out after the goal and after Crouz had sent a shot into the side netting in the 27th minute, Danny South brilliantly cancelled out his initial error with a perfectly timed tackle to deny Vaughan Redford.

South was on hand again to kick the ball off the line as Michael Dunn looked set to score on 35 minutes, and then there was a break in play so that treatment could be given to Jack Broadhead who suffered a cut to the head after clashing with Tyreece Robinson.

The Nailers let another great opportunity go by when Derry Robson had only the ‘keeper to beat in the 45th minute and he saw his close range flick come off the leg of the Tigers’ custodian and away to safety.

Deep into the time added on due to the earlier injury, Worksop scored an equaliser from a corner kick that Luke Hinsley headed into the top corner from inside the six yard area.

Belper began the second half in positive mood and kept the visitors busy in their own half to begin with.

In the 52nd minute McDonnell was pushed from behind as he entered the visitors’ penalty area and the referee didn’t hesitate to award a penalty kick. Up stepped Craig Nelthorpe to lash the ball home from the spot and in doing so restored Belper’s lead.

Craig Nelthorpe nets the Belper penalty. Photo: Mike Smith.

The Nailers should have tightened their grip on the game three minutes later when following a Belper breakaway McDonnell squared the ball to Nathan Curtis who had a clear shot on goal, but again the ‘keeper blocked his shot with his legs.

Worksop staged a recovery from then on and Redford found space for a well struck shot from just inside the penalty area, however Overton was equal to it and made an excellent diving save.

Curtis was in a perfect position once again in the 74th minute and even though he struck his shot well enough, it was straight at the ‘keeper and another opportunity had slipped by.

The unfortunate Curtis was the source of Worksop’s equaliser in the 82nd minute when, caught in two minds, he headed the ball into his own goal with Overton powerless to do anything about it.

Gavin Allott looked menacing as the game drew to its close, however he pulled his shot wide, and just before the final whistle, Brodie Litchfield’s effort at the other end was deflected past the post.

It’s likely that the Nailers would have been happy to take a draw at the start of this game, but in reality they could have left Worksop far behind if they had snapped up their chances.

Belper Town: Overton, Rhodes, Nelthorpe, Gregory, South, Robinson, Robson, Wright, McDonnell (Peterson 85), Curtis, Crouz (Litchfield 69). Subs not used: Ridley, Dawes. Woodcock.

Worksop Town: Malkowski, Greenhough, Smythe, Cromack, Broadhead (Atherton 42), Jemson, Baxendale (Brown 45), Hinsley, Allott, Redford, Dunn (Sennett-Nielson 59). Unused Subs: Williams, Johnson

Referee: Callum Parke Att: 400