Rainworth could point to the fact that they had four key players from Tuesday’s excellent 2-0 victory against Eastwood Community unavailable, through injury or work commitments. Whilst that didn’t help their cause, on the day they were second best in what was a physical battle.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested, and it was Rainworth who had the first effort on goal in the 8th minute when Kane Hempshall’s shot was well saved by Scott Whittington at the expense of a corner.
Almost immediately Belper nearly capitalised from a slip on the damp turf by Elliot Jones, but Warren Squires gathered Richard Hanslow’s effort at the second attempt. Two minutes later and an unmarked Ben Rushby’s glancing header from a corner was fortunately wide of the target.
It was end- to-end action and on 19 minutes Kurtis Bamford’s free-kick hits the wall and Ryan Herbert’s follow-up thundered into the side netting. Hanslow had a chance at the other end but he failed to connect, and Squires was on hand to collect.
The game continued at a frantic pace with the conditions aiding and hindering both sides in equal doses. The match turned in the 32nd minute when Rainworth failed to deal with Whittington’s break and when Squires rushed out in an attempt to defuse the situation he somehow managed to place the ball into the unguarded net for the opening goal.
Within a minute it was almost 2-0 when Hanslow just failed to get his shot off when through on goal. The second however was not long in coming when in the 37th minute when Rainworth were once again punished when Jake Dodds scored after some lapse defending.
Rainworth almost immediately pulled one back when an attempted Belper clearance deflected off Ryan Ingram, flashing inches wide of the post with Whittington a mere spectator. It was Belper however who finished the half on the front foot as Squires was forced into a full-length save from Whittington.
Rainworth started the second half in search of a goal but a combination of poor finishing and good defending in the opening minutes left them goalless. It took an excellent double save with his legs by Squires to prevent Hanslow extending Belper’s lead.
Rainworth brought on Aiden Harris for Bamford. Rainworth almost pulled one back in the 71st minute but Jones fierce drive found the side netting. A minute later and the game was all but over as Hanslow was left unmarked to head home Belper’s third.
The 74th minute summed up the day for Rainworth as Hempshall was upended in the penalty area and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped Ingram but his powerfully hit effort cleared the crossbar.
Rainworth brought on Keiran Coupe for Herbert but whilst both sides threatened neither side could find the back of the net and Belper United ran out deserved 3-0 winners on the day.
Rainworth: Squires; Herbert (Coupe); Wootton; Weaver; Jones; Kane Hempshall; Bamford (Harris); Sargent; Clarke; Topliss; Ingram. Subs (not used): Havron; Darby.