There wasn’t a great deal to cheer about for the Nailers supporters in this 2-0 defeat, but there was consolation in the fact that there were quite a number of players not involved who are likely to be in the side come the start of the season.
In fact there were only two players included that were part of the win over Maltby the previous week and they were ‘keeper Andy Richmond and Deon Meikle, although Liam Davis
, Jamie Smith and Alex Muzyczka played a part in the second half.
Jimmy Ghaichem and Nicky Darker were involved for the opposition and the two former Nailers players looked happier than their former teammates at the end of the 90 minutes.
After 12 minutes of stalemate Aaron Pride
’s clearance struck Matt Blake and the ball flew into the back of the net with Andy Richmond powerless to intervene.
It proved hard going for the Nailers who were up against a fit workmanlike outfit who had clearly developed a great sense of team work, whereas Belper understandably, were playing as though they had met each other for the first time, which was essentially true.
The Nailers had a great opportunity to level the scores after 33 minutes when Parkgate skipper Gareth Clayton’s outstretched arm got in the way of Rob Ludlam’s cross to concede a penalty, but Adam Walker’s spot kick was too close to James Jenkinson.
Play was even enough but Belper looked disjointed at times and seemingly without a game plan, and when Parkgate caught the Nailers on the break in the 40th minute, Daniel Cardwell stoked the ball inside the far post from just inside the penalty area.
Manager Tommy Taylor changed things around after the break but the pattern remained the same with the Nailers lacking punch up front.
Keir Hannity gave the Nailers a few awkward moments in the second period and in the 53rd minute he almost sealed victory with a shot just past the far post.
Nathan Forbes-Swindells sent a 60th minute free kick just past the upright, and after an hour it was hard to remember a direct shot on goal from Belper with the exception of the penalty kick.
Jamie Smith had Belper’s best effort on goal with a well struck volley from the edge of the penalty area but the Parkgate ‘keeper had the measure of his shot.
Hannity brought the best out of Andy Richmond with a close range effort on 65 minutes, but after this the game drifted into obscurity leaving Parkgate qualifying for the final.
The Nailers are next in action when they travel to South Normanton Athletic on Saturday 23 July (3.00pm).