Belper United 3-3 Kimberley Town
Belper Utd’s first game at the highest standard the club has ever competed in – Centtral Midlands League Black Dragon Division South – was a treat for the 80-plus fans who turned out to watch.
Belper, led by the new management team of Steve Palumbo and Steve Watson, started brightly enough with the experienced Antony Hemmings pulling the strings in midfieldbut as the half progressed and an injury forced the influential Baxter off the field, Kimberley began to get a foothold and duly scored the first goal of the season at the revamped Alton Manor.
Unlike previous seasons, this setback seemed to spur United on and, after hitting the woodwork twice, Jordan McCrobie bagged his first goal for the club.
Belper continued to press in the first half, hit the woodwork twice more and only desperate defending kept the scores level at the interval.
Belper lost their captain to injury at the break and this seemed to unsettle them as they found themselves behind within minutes of the restart. Kimberley pressed home their advantage and although Belper worked hard, they couldn’t get to grips with the Nottinghamshire side and fell 3-1 behind with 15 minutes to play.
Belper threw caution to the wind and put on an extra striker in Richard Clark and it was his long throw that was brilliantly guided into the top corner by McCrobie for his second of the game with just five minutes to play.
United continued to press and the hard working Joe Wheeler cut in from the right wing and unleashed a shot with his left foot which left the keeper stranded and nestled in the bottom corner for 3-3.
The 90-minute mark had been passed but there was still time for the referee to send off evergreen striker Karl Payne for a second innocuous booking.
Belper hung on for a well-deserved point which their hard work and first half performance warranted.
The effort on the pitch matched all the hard work that has gone on throughout the summer off the pitch and will give Belper a good base to go forward and if the rest of the season is as action-packed as the first 90 minutes, then it will be a great season for all involved.
The next home match is on Saturday against Calverton.