Belper Town 4 Stocksbridge PS 1 Photos: Ian Revitt
By: Owen Harrison
Belper Town inflicted a heavy defeat on a Stocksbridge side who slipped into the relegation zone of the Evo-Stik East Division after the Steels were hammered by the so called Nailers 4-1 at The Silver X stadium.
Today’s hosts came into the tie on the back of a battling 2-2 draw away to mid table Marske United last Saturday which saw Belper Town climb to 8th in the league. This was after impressive form in the past five games which saw today’s opposition win 3 in their last 5 league outings against Carlton Town, Wisbech Town and AFC Mansfield respectively. With this exceptional form that the Nailers came into today’s tie with, it was going to be another tricky test for a Stocksbridge Park Steels side who in their last outing were well beaten at the Look Local Stadium by high flying Tadcaster Albion 3-0.
Although the strugglers have won two in their last five matches, the Steels have also been thrashed twice, both of these occasions occurring at Bracken Moor. One of these outings was a 4-0 defeat to top of the table Morpeth Town which was followed up the week after with a 5-0 defeat to second in the table Pontefract Collieries which left Stocksbridge walking down the tunnel at full time red faced by their performance.
But the visitors started off on the front foot; Brody Litchfield, within the first minute, burst into an area of danger but the sniff of an opportunity was intercepted and cleared well by Belper Town defender Alfred Thompson. The pressure from the Steels in the opening ten minutes led to a series of chances. Rory Coleman fired in a cross which allowed Kurtis Turner a free header at Belper goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski. But his header was tame, and the Steels defender couldn’t hit the target with the first opportunity of the game.
In the 4th minute, the Stocksbridge pressure resulted in a goal for the league strugglers after Steels’ number nine Scott Ruthven fired in his shot from the right hand side of the box into the bottom left corner, beating the talented Belper Town goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski.
A reason for Belper’s downfall in the opening quarter of an hour was their lack of communication between their defence and midfield. This allowed Brody Litchfield to do brilliant work around the six yard box, but he failed to take fire at goal and tripped, giving the ball away to a Belper Town side who started to find their feet. Minutes later and Belper had their first chance of the game as Danny Gordon fired in a corner as a result of a defensive block to avoid Craig Nelthorpe’s cross from meeting an attacker’s head from the opposition. This corner flew across the face of goal but no Belper player was there to nod it home and the first chance to equalise for the Nailers went begging. Another chance followed minutes after, this time on the other end of the field. Jordan Lemon put a low cross into the box which was met by Brody Litchfield who back heeled the ball into the path of The Ice Man Danny Frost but the Steels striker was not on the same wavelength as his fellow teammates and he failed to take the opportunity.
A good opportunity for the hosts followed, as George Milner fired in a ball into the six yard box that was initially designed to be met by a Belper attacker’s head but his cross nearly finds the back of the net if it wasn’t for debutee goalkeeper David Robson making a relatively comfortable stop.
The pressure then swung in Belper’s favour as the peppering of shots from the in form side began. George Milner’s long throw from the right hand side of the pitch was met by Nailers skipper Danny South who’s low header troubled David Robson into making a save.
But moments after and Stocksbridge could have doubled their lead against the run of play after a defensive mix up from Belper allowed Brody Litchfield and his attacking counterparts to run through on goal. The pacey winger shot high for the top right corner and just as the travelling Steels fans were about to jump up in celebration, Sebastian Malkowski made a finger tip save to turn it away for a corner; a remarkable stop that even David De Gea would be proud of.
Down at the church end, Belper were having glorious opportunities of their own. George Milner crossed a high ball into Alfred Thompson who’s header looked to have beaten the Steels keeper but his header curled over the bar and went into the group of Belper fans who set up shop behind the goal. George Milner was a key performer in the tie, and it showed just after the half hour mark as he placed a perfect ball into Derry Robson who did great work to set up an opportunity for the equalising goal but a crunching challenge by the Steels defence turned it away for a corner. The resulting corner was punched out by Robson and the following cross was fired in again which was met by a Belper header which was tipped onto the crossbar by the Steels number one but the referee for today’s game, Mark Tinsley, already had his whistle to his mouth to give a free kick in Stocksbridge’s favour.
With ten minutes to go until half time, the Nailers soon started to show their dominance over the struggling Steels. Nathan Curtis beat his defender to shoot at goal from the right of the box which was minorly spilled by 17 year old Steels keeper David Robson but this wasn’t enough to create another sniff of a chance.
Another chance fell to the hosts with 7 minutes left to play in the opening showing. A poorly timed corner fired in from the right was met at the back post by a Belper attacker who attempts to chip the debutee keeper via a deflection but the 17 year old did well to stop Belper from equalising.
But then the turning point of the game occurred. Alfred Thompson fired in a brilliant ball into the box which was nodded in by Belper skipper Danny South. This was as a result of a counter attack after a Steels corner was cleared quickly and the hosts instantly went on the breakaway leading to Danny South striking his seventh goal of the season on the stroke of half time.
HT-Belper Town 1-1 Stocksbridge
In the 2nd period, Belper’s resilience paid off although the Steels had the first opportunity of the second showing. Jordan Lemon’s throw in was cleared by Alfred Thompson but the Belper defender’s clearance was only as far to Danny Frost who was in the centre of the penalty area who took the shot off but it was palmed away by Malkowski who was rarely troubled in the 2nd half.
One of the very few remaining Steels chances in the 2nd half fell minutes after, as Malkowski miscued a clearance up field that ended up in the path of Steels number nine Scott Ruthven who, with an open net at his mercy, struck and was blocked by a Belper defender, with the resulting follow up shot being blasted wide by a Steels attacker.
Nathan Curtis was then given the time and space for a chance at goal, but Reece Fielding made a crucial stop to deflect the chance back to the keeper, although there was major shouts from Belper fans appealing for a penalty.
Minutes later and the Nailers had their second; Craig Nelthorpe fired in a beautiful cross into Derry Robson who nodded home into the bottom left corner to the cheers of the jubilant home supporters.
Almost instantly after the goal, George Milner and Rory Coleman got into a bust up, eventually being separated by fellow team-mates and after referee Mark Tinsley consulted James McNee, he booked them both. Unfortunately for Rory Coleman, this was his second booking of the game and he was sent for an early shower. Ben Rhodes then lost his cool and was shown a yellow card for a challenge on substitute Piteu Crouz.
In the 77th minute, a ball from the right hand side of the box was fired in, which was centimetres wide from skipper Danny South’s head and then momentarily after, Derry Robson got his feet in a tangle from a George Milner cross and the chance to bury the game from around 6 yards went begging.
Then the devastating blow came for the visiting Steels. Derry Robson fired in an inch perfect cross into the path of George Milner who nodded home into the bottom left corner to seal the game and bag his nineth goal of the season on his 21st birthday.
A few minutes after and the embarrassment extended for Stocksbridge. Danny South bagged his second goal of the game after a cross from substitute Liam Owen. He touched down the inswinging cross, but since the Steels’ young goalkeeper was already on the floor after thinking the skipper would shoot first time, it was an opportunity to take for the Belper Town captain who smashed the ball home into the centre of the net, bagging his 8th goal of the season and celebrating this achievement with the jubilant Nailers fans behind goal.
Subtitute Piteu Crouz could have piled more misery onto the Steels if his thunderous shot didn’t strike the upright during the four minutes of added on time. With this opportunity failing to add more gloss onto the win, the referee drew the game to a close. An embarrassing showing by the Steels, leaving both players and fans red faced by their performance.
The win for Belper Town means they rise to seventh in the league, two points off the end of season play offs. For Stocksbridge, every game is now a cup final after slipping into the relegation zone on goal difference. Belper Town travel to mid table Loughborough Dynamo next week in search of back to back wins meanwhile Stocksbridge are back on home soil in their next outing against another in form team Cleethorpes Town who defeated the Steels 6-2 in the reverse meeting earlier this campaign.
FT-Belper Town 4-1 Stocksbridge