Whatever the outcome of Tuesday evening’s FA Cup replay against Matlock Town, there was no doubt that Saturday’s enthralling game at the Reynolds Stadium emphasised how important promotion is to the Nailers so they can experienced these derby games on a regular basis.
The facilities at Matlock have changed completely since Belper last visited the then named Causeway Lane in season 2003/4, and with a decent sized crowd enjoying the late summer sunshine it was an atmosphere to savour.
A vociferous Nailers contingent did their best to encourage the players particularly in the second half, and was greatly appreciated by manager Peter Duffield.
“The supporters were magnificent and were a different class,” he said, “the players really appreciated the noise they made and it made a big difference.
“The lads were gutted that they couldn’t win the game and we’re hoping that we get the same support for the replay.”
Duffield had to contend with the loss of key defender Dan White just before kick off but was full of praise for Richard Adams (pictured) who was drafted in at the last minute.
“Addo came in and did a great job for us,” he said, “he was a late replacement for Dan White who pulled a thigh muscle in the warm up and he was excellent throughout.”
The Nailers bright start to the game was tempered by an early goal from the Gladiators, but they hit back with two in four minutes.
“Apart from their goal we were the best team for the opening 20 minutes or so, explained Duffield, “but for some reason we went off the boil and they came back into it and scored just before half time.
“We regrouped and I thought we held the advantage for most of the second half without getting the goal our performance deserved.
“We should have had a penalty kick for a handball which for some reason the referee refused to give.
“We are going to have to be equally as good if not better in the replay to beat Matlock, but if we can reproduce the same level of form then we have a good chance.”
Good news at last emerged from Christchurch Meadow regarding last season’s leading goal scorer and talisman Jon Froggatt.
Froggy, as he is better known to team mates and supporters underwent a scan on his troublesome knee injury that has kept him on the sidelines all season, and the good news is that there is nothing serious and he can resume full training within the next two weeks.
The Nailers made another signing last week when they brought in Belper based Shaun Roulston from Coalville Town.
Roulston is no stranger to Christchurch Meadow having been part of the reserve team set up in his younger days, and Duffield revealed that he wanted to bring him in last season.
“Shaun is a solid defender and I thought about signing him before now,” he said, “and with all the injuries we have been getting to our central defenders he will be a useful addition to the squad; although he will have to be patient before getting his chance.”
Going the other way is likely to be Jordan Turner who has expressed a desire for regular football and the club are waiting to see who comes in for him.
The Nailers are in FA Trophy action next Saturday when they travel to Loughborough Dynamo in the Preliminary Round and if a replay isn’t required, they will have a blank midweek.