Belper Town 0 Cleethorpes Town 7
GOAL CRAZY OWLS IN SEVENTH HEAVEN!
A return to Derbyshire for the second time in 24 hours! After the draw at Gresley the previous evening, it was Belper Town that provided the opposition.
Only 3 players were asked to start both away fixtures and they were David Birch, Peter Winn and Oli Donald. Members of the squad coming in were Josh Lacey, Jack Richardson, Kieran Wressell, Curtis Bateson, Alex Flett (captain), Marc Cooper, Luke Aldrich and Liam Davis respectively.
The Nailers were involved in one of the most exciting matches of the season at Bradley in the reverse fixture in October. It ended 4-4 after the Owls had trailed by three goals at one point. Both sides would be looking for a strong finish to their campaigns, with one eye already turning towards building for next year.
A steady start at the picturesque Marston’s Stadium with both teams feeling their way in the early stages. In the 11th minute, Cooper did well to win an aerial challenge but Aldrich was crowded out and then the returning Flett hit the defensive wall from a free-kick.
Clee were beginning to dominate with some controlled football and after Richardson went close, the opening goal arrived in the 28th minute. An attack on the right was crossed to Aldrich, who had found some space. The young striker, who had been aggressive and lively, tucked the ball away from 15 yards.
Belper were rocked but replied with a couple of attacks, the second of which was blocked by an unflinching Winn. It was becoming more even as the interval approached but Clee got an important second goal three minutes before the break.
A corner in was nicely flighted and Donald rose highest in a pack of bodies to bravely head home to give the Owls breathing space.
HT Belper Town 0 Cleethorpes Town 2 (Aldrich 28, Donald 42)
Bateson was getting increasingly involved in the action as the night progressed and was a constant outlet. Also, the whole team were playing as a unit and the travelling fans were being treated to the best away display of the campaign.
It seemed only a matter of time before Clee made the game safe and, after Aldrich had fired a yard the wrong side of the upright, the third arrived in the 61st minute and it was an absolute beauty!
A persistent Cooper won the ball and moved it to Flett. The skipper delivered an inch perfect ball to man-of-the-match Bateson. The loanee showed his National North pedigree by taking it in his stride and surging past a defender into the box. He pinpointed the excellent late run of Richardson, who hammered into the roof of the net.
Clee used a couple of subs over the next 10 or so minutes. The injured Cooper was withdrawn along with Flett. The last thing that the Nailers wanted to see was the prolific strike pairing of Danny North and Brody Robertson entering the fray.
It was now completely one-way traffic but no-one could have anticipated that the Owls would score an incredible four times in the closing stages!
In the 81st minute, Winn curled in a well-delivered corner from the right and Wressell volleyed home at the far post. Much worse was to follow for the beleaguered defence, which was now being cut apart at will by the marauding visitors.
With five minutes to go on the watch, North got in on the act. The striker beat the offside trap, drew the home keeper off his line before slotting past him. Within 60 seconds, the net bulged for a sixth time in a very similar manner. This time though it was Brody Robertson, who struck for the fifth game in succession.
There was still time for another in the last seconds, when Bateson was again in space on the right. His low delivery was stroked in by North. This was a milestone achieved for the popular forward – his 25th of the campaign in all competitions.
The final whistle was a relief for Belper! The Owls had produced the brand of football that everyone wants to see and, as well as seven away goals, it was very pleasing to keep the first league clean sheet of 2018.
FT Belper Town 0 Cleethorpes Town 7 (Aldrich 28, Donald 42, Richardson 61, Wressell 81, North 85, 90, Robertson 86) Attendance: 105
What a night - a superb all-round performance! Seven goals with six different scorers and a shut-out to boot…
Games like this do not come around that often but what a boost for everyone involved with the Owls after a difficult few weeks. I have been desperate for us to give someone a good beating! No one should lose faith, as I believe that we are one of the top 4 or 5 sides in this league and, as I have said before, we can look forward to 2018/19 with confidence.
Two home fixtures to come later in the week, as we try to climb the table in to as high a finish as possible.
On Thursday (7.45pm), promotion chasing Alvechurch visit Bradley. Of course, it is only very recently that we lost 1-0 in Worcestershire. It would be nice to put in a very good performance to measure ourselves against, in my opinion, the strongest league opponents we have come across.
Then, two days later (3pm), Chasetown come calling. A last-minute equaliser from Mark Gray earned us a 1-1 draw in Staffordshire last month and we will be aiming to put a dent in the visitors’ play-off aspirations.
Let’s get a couple of big crowds down to the ground to encourage the lads through the final stage of our debut Evostik season.
UP THE OWLS!