Great effort, but no reward for Tulips
The Tulips suffered their fifth consecutive 2-1 defeat at Christchurch Meadows on Saturday.
With both teams sitting mid-table prior to kick-off, a close encounter was expected and the 184 fans in the ground were not disappointed.
Play was high octane from the outset, with both goals under siege from the start and was never to relent.
In truth, a scuttle-full of goals could have been scored but thanks to good defence and some superb goalkeeping by Tulips’ Michael Duggan and his opposite number Danny Roberts, the ball only found the net three times.
Belper scored a goal either side of half time, leaving the Tulips with a mammoth task. But they battled like never before in an effort to end their dismal run of defeats.
Jonny Lockie, who replaced the injured Jamie Jackson for the second half, set the ball rolling on 70 minutes, emerging from a packed six-yard area to turn Gary King’s low cross over the line at the near post.
Eight minutes later, Tulips’ man-of-the-match Lee Beeson’s thunderbolt free kick from fully 35 yards crashed against the far post with ‘keeper Roberts rooted to the deck.
Pressure on the home goal was sustained. They survived a very strong Tulips’ penalty appeal and five minutes from the end of normal time, a Gary King free kick was blocked and Beeson’s follow up shot was brilliantly saved on the line by the spread-eagled Roberts. As the game slipped into over time, Roberts was again on hand to deny Cenk Acar.
Belper were fractionally the more dominant in attack during the opening stages and fully tested Duggan. Twice in quick succession the custodian pulled off good saves to deny Kieran O’Connell and Leandro Brown.
As the Tulips replied, a promising right side break was ended by home skipper John Guy, robbing Jackson.
The deadlock was broken on 37 minutes. Duggan did superbly to parry a stinging low drive at the foot of a post but Alex Steadman reacted smartly to scoop the ball over the line.
King, Beeson and ‘JJ’ were all in ascendance immediately after the break but the second home goal in the 50th minute left the Tulips with a tough job.
They battled manfully, but were unable to salvage even a deserved share of the points.