Sutton Coldfield Town 2
Belper Town 1
Belper Town deserved at least a point from this hard-fought Evo-Stik League Division One South game but fell to the second successive defeat by the odd goal in three.
With Aaron Pride serving a suspension, Shaun Roulston got the nod as his replacement with the only other change being the return of Simon Harrison in place of Danny Deakin.
The Nailers have yet to win on the artificial surface at Coles Lane, albeit against last Saturday’s opponents or groundsharing Romulus.
There was an added incentive for both managers as Belper’s Peter Duffield was up against his one-time assistant at Retford, Neil Tooth, who was in charge of the opposition team.
The Nailers made a solid start although it was Kristian Ramsey-Dickinson who had the first attempt of the afternoon with a 9th minute shot just past the post.
Shaun Tuton went one better in the 17th minute when he drew a fine save from Lee Evans with a shot on the turn that would have opened the scoring if it hadn’t been for the Sutton ‘keeper’s agility.
Jamie Sheldon managed to get on the wrong side of Karl Colley two minutes later. However, Dave Ratcliffe came out swiftly to smother the opposition striker’s effort from close range, then Reece Leek intercepted a sloppy Colley pass only to shoot close enough to Ratcliffe for him to pluck the ball out of the air with ease.
Luke Chapman sent a 26th minute free kick fizzing past the far post, but seconds after Karl Colley had seen a header from a long Richard Adams throw hit the post, Sutton Coldfield were ahead when Ramsey-Dickinson took the ball at pace fully 40 yards before crossing to Reece Leek, who tucked the ball away past Dave Ratcliffe.
Play was scrappy for long periods after the Sutton goal but the Nailers gradually imposed themselves in the latter stages of the half and Shaun Tuton had a great chance to level when he burst through in the 40th minute but, despite striking the ball hard, he couldn’t keep it down and it flew a yard over the top.
But justice was served just before the break when Richard Adams turned to shoot just inside the post with Lee Evans left rooted to the spot, and the Nailers had something to build on.
Belper tried to impose themselves in the second half and utilised the long throw talent of Richard Adams on a regular basis. From one such throw in the 50th minute, Karl Colley turned and shot just wide.
Andy Rushbury was inches away from connecting with a Colin Marrison cross in the 66th minute and it seemed only a matter of time before the Nailers would take the lead.
Karl Colley had the goal at his mercy in the 72nd minute but, in trying to make certain, he could only hit the upright, and with the Nailers pressing more and more, it came as a crushing blow when the referee awarded Sutton Coldfield a penalty after a clash just outside the six-yard area following a cross from the right.
The decision was particularly frustrating for the Nailers as the official had turned down two valid claims midway through the second half, but Louis Keenan stepped up to convert the spotkick and scored what was eventually to be the winner. Karl Colley, who’d had arguably one of his best games in a yellow shirt, nearly headed a late equaliser for the Nailers, who kept going right until the whistle, and quite frankly had battled too hard to end up empty-handed.
Sutton Coldfield Town: Evans, Quiggin, Keenan, Parsons, Kettle, Male, Leek (Simmonds 68), Edwards, Ramsey-Dickson, Sheldon, Chapman L. Unused subs: Wilcox, Healey (Rathbone 83), Bedford.
Belper Town: Ratcliffe, Roulston (Stirrup 80), Wright, Marrison, Adams, Colley, Harrison, Warne, Stephens, Tuton, Rushbury (Ward 77). Unused subs: Deakin, Froggatt, Chapman A.
Referee: Mark Billingham (Stourbridge).
Photo by Tim Harrison