Derwent 1sts 4
With five games still to go, Derwent wrapped up promotion to the East Midlands Premier League with a strong performance against a physical Coalville side.
But the win came at a cost, with key players suffering injuries.
Going into the game, Derwent knew three points would seal promotion. These thoughts seemed to affect Derwent as they started nervously and failed to settle, giving the ball away on many occasions.
Many times during this season when facing this situation, leading goalscorer Ben Everett-Li has found the breakthrough. And he duly did so again when he latched onto a cross, diverting the ball into the roof of the net. The goal settled Derwent and they started to apply continued pressure to the Coalville defence.
With Derwent seemingly in control, they were hit on the counter attack. Coalville’s Mark Newman finished off a fine flowing move which caught the defence napping. This saw the pressure ramp up, and for the next few minutes it was a distinctly scrappy game, which started to get fractious.
Yet again, Everett-Li was on hand to settle Derwent nerves as he scored his 22nd goal in 15 games. Unfortunately, this was to be Everett-Li’s last input into the game, and in all likelihood the rest of the season, when a mistimed tackle saw him take a sickening tumble, which left the player distraught.
With their midfield maestro off the pitch, Derwent then lost the services of winger Richard Wildgoose, through a hamstring injury.
Rather than feeling sorry for themselves, Derwent ramped up the intensity and started to play to their full strengths.
George Taylor, Dean Stevens and James Bolus all stepped up in midfield to dominate play, marshalled superbly by Miles Smurthwaite.
Taylor was on hand to further extend the lead, when in conjunction with Tom Ellison, they executed a perfect penalty corner setpiece.
By this time, Derwent were in complete control, and Dean Stevens scored from close range, after a flick on by man-of-the-match Ash Vaughan. Steve Williams and Steve Langrick both had chances to further extend the lead, but conspired to push the ball wide.
Coalville did have an opportunity to put Derwent through a nervy last five minutes, when they were awarded a penalty. But captain Jamie Carlin pulled off a magnificent save to deny Coalville any chance of getting back into the game.
Coach Heath Roberts summed things up. “I must congratulate the whole squad who, through hard work and undoubted skill, have secured this achievement. But the injury to Ben has taken the edge off the celebrations.
“He has been such an influential player for us, it was a real shame he wasn’t able to take part in the celebrations at the end of the game. We’ll know more next week, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it’s not as bad as we first thought, but he’s not going to be back playing this season.
“We’ve got our local derby on Saturday, against Ashbourne. We need just a point from our remaining fixtures to be crowned champions. It’s going to be a real tough game, but it’s great to have games like these.”