Improvement in squad is showing

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BELPER Town followed up their impressive win at Leek Town with another brace of victories against Loughborough and Market Drayton Town, leaving Nailers supporters upbeat as the season entered the final few weeks.

All three wins were against teams who were in form and is a measure of how far Peter Duffield has improved his squad especially since the turn of the year.

Certainly Duffield can afford to smile after seeing his side take maximum points from the last three games and scoring none goals into the bargain.

“If I had been offered that a couple of weeks ago I would have snapped your hand off,” he said, “we have improved a great deal since before Christmas and I was particularly pleased that we carried on the high energy and tempo against Loughborough in midweek although we did look a bit tired in the second half last Saturday.”

The Nailers cruised to a 2-0 half time lead with a little help from the visitor’s ‘keeper who gifted Chris Adam the first goal after spilling a Jon Froggatt cross, but after the break Market Drayton began to enjoy more possession.

The Nailers suffered a blow at half time when it emerged that Richard Adams was struggling with a painful and swollen arm that subsequently was confirmed as a broken arm.

Adams, who has reached 127 appearances for the Nailers looks likely to be out for the rest of the season and is a big set back not only for him personally but for the football club.

“Addo has been one of our most consistent performers and I’m really gutted for him because he has been playing so well,” said Duffield.

“I’m gutted for myself as well because he and Dan White have struck a great partnership and now we will have to make changes to a settled back four.”

Dan White had to miss the Market Drayton game with a badly swollen ankle which gave Michael Simpkins a rare opportunity to start, then the Nailers were forced into another change at half time when new signing arl Colley was pressed into service after a lengthy absence from the game and only a few training sessions behind him.

“Under the circumstances I thought they both did well,” said Duffield, “but when you have to make such significant changes to the team it can sometimes have a detrimental effect, and when Andy Rushbury’s hamstring tightened we had to change again when Ben Leonard came on.”

Colin Marrison and Aaron Pride will be part of a stronger looking reserve side that will include three other fringe first team players that are looking to regain match fitness when they travel to Mickleover Sports reserves on Tuesday night.

“Colin and Aaron are itching to get involved with the first team again, as for differing reasons they have been out of action recently,” said Duffield.

“It’s a measure of how much they want to get involved when they religiously attend training and come to games just to have a run beforehand, even though they will have to watch from the sidelines and not get paid.”

Another pleasing statistic to emerge since the turn of the year is that the Nailers’ chief goal getter Jon Froggatt has been on target more regularly again having netted six times in the last seven games.

In all competitions he has bagged 21 goals so far in all competitions and in terms of his league placing in the Division One South charts he is just two goals behind the two joint highest scorers, Ilkeston’s Gary Rickets and Carlton’s Ian Brown who lead with 19 goals each.

The Nailers are without a game in midweek and on Saturday entertain Kidsgrove Athletic at Christchurch Meadow while Belper’s second string travel to Dronfield Town reserves.