Belper Town 1 Chasetown 4
Chasetown still find themselves four points adrift of the top half of the table but after their fourth consecutive league win, they must start to wonder whether they can claw back the 11 points deficit they have on the current team occupying the play off positions.
Against them is the fact that 9 of the 11 teams above Chasetown have played fewer fixtures, but in the form they displayed to destroy Belper Town, who had started the day in third place, there will be teams looking over their shoulders to see whether the Scholars can mount the sort of run that saw them sneak into the play offs last May.
Make no mistake about it winning at Belper is no mean result! The Nailers started the day as the league’s top scoring team with the league’s top scoring player Jon Froggatt leading the line with 22 goals to his name.
Chasetown took the lead in the 14th minute after Belper protested against the corner kick that was awarded. Paul Sullivan appeared to fire wide of the post, but when the corner was partially cleared Ramone Stephens dribbled across the edge of the box and laid the ball to Danny Bragoli. His first shot was probably heading wide but as the ball came straight back out to him off the goalkeeper’s punch, Bragoli fizzed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net – the first goal of his second spell with Chasetown, over four years after his previous goal!
Ten minutes later, Chasetown doubled their lead after Lee Butler drove in a right foot shot from the edge of the penalty box which struck the foot of defender Chris Jones and looped up and over keeper Dave Ratcliffe.
If Jones was unfortunate then, within a minute he had some good fortune when his cross lopped over Ryan Price inside the far post from an unlikely angle.
Belper committed men forward for a period and Tesfa Robinson and Richard Teesdale stood strong in defence to repel the Nailers’ attacks.
There was a feeling that the next goal would be crucial and it was Chasetown who got it, just eight minutes after the restart. Stephens advanced towards the Belper back four and slipped an inch perfect pass into Nick Wellecomme whose finish was clinical, guiding the ball beyond Ratcliffe as he advanced.
Belper may have looked good going forward and had another sustained spell of pressure on Chasetown’s goal but again the defence stood firm and then Craig Harris’ men exploited weaknesses in the home defence.
Eight minutes from time, it was game, set and match to Chasetown when a corner found its way to Paul Sullivan who drilled a low shot home from six yards.
Twice, Chasetown went close to a fifth. First, Sullivan’s headed flick on to Wellecomme saw the Chase Number 9 drill a shot inches wide of the post with Ratcliffe beaten and then Ratcliffe was very fortunate not to see a card of any colour when Sullivan had just the keeper to beat, poked the ball beyond him and the Town keeper blocked Sullivan’s run. Butler’s free kick sailed wide but Sullivan had certainly been denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Updated 11:21 - 13 Jan 2018 by Paul Mullins