Late fightback earns FA Cup replay
Belper Town go into today’s draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after clinching a hard won replay against Ilkeston FC at the New Manor Ground last Saturday.
After taking the lead early in the game they succumbed to two breakaway strikes from former Belper forward Daryll Thomas, only to recover thanks to a powerful header from Ashley Longstaff which set up a pulsating final 20 minutes.
“Although we had to defend in depth at times we could easily have won the game in that last ten minutes,” said manager Peter Duffield.
“After we went 2-1 down Ilkeston were looking the better side and they will certainly be disappointed they couldn’t go on and finish the game, however we showed great character to get back into it and we deserved a second chance.
“All the credit should go to the players,” said Duffield, “we made changes after they scored their second goal and there was an immediate improvement which changed the outcome of the game and we were asking most of the questions in the latter stages.”
Duffield accepted that it was a much more difficult game than the one at Matlock two weeks earlier, and knows that the replay will be just as tough if not tougher.
“I can’t see Tuesday’s game being much different,” he said, “both sides are very honest and we will have to work extremely hard to progress to the next round.
“We have done well in recent weeks and with only a young side we will get better with experience, but occasionally, as happened on Saturday we tend to lapse into spells where we give the ball away too cheaply, but on the other hand we are just as capable of stringing passes together and causing problems at the other end.”
Jon Froggatt’s name appeared on the team sheet for the first time this season although it was never likely that he would play a part in the game.
“We only had six players for the bench so I thought it would give ‘Froggy’ a boost to be named as a substitute and to get him used to being involved on a match day again.
“He’s not too far away from playing but there’s no sense in rushing things because when he comes back we want him to be fully fit and completely free from injury,” explained Duffield.
Jordan Ball’s loan period has been extended for a further two months which came as welcome news to the Nailers especially while Jon Froggatt continues his battle for fitness.
Ball’s goals have proved very valuable since his arrival in late August and the arrangement has shown clear benefits for both player and club.
September has seen a feast of cup football for the Nailers and the month ends on Saturday with yet another vital tie, this time in the FA Trophy against Leamington FC.
Belper’s opponents will arrive at Christchurch Meadow unbeaten in the league this season and sitting proudly on the top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, and are likely to provide a sterner test than even Matlock Town and Ilkeston.
However, they lost their 20 game unbeaten record in all competitions last Saturday when Corby Town knocked them out of the FA Cup.
Belper’s reserve side had a resounding 4-0 success over Heanor Town Reserves at Christchurch Meadow last Saturday and are next in action this coming Saturday when they travel to Dinnington Town Reserves.