Sheffield 3 – 3 Nailers
Belper took the short trip up the M1 to Premier League Sheffield on Sunday and set out to prove to themselves just what positive progress had been made in the last 2 months.
Traditionally a very tough fixture, today was to prove no different in was what described as “a belter of a match”.
With Nailers having an almost full squad available, today was to prove a great final workout, with competition for places in next weeks league game up for grabs by all.
Sheffield started at a blistering pace looking to exert their authority on the match early o and the pressure paid of on just 4 mins as they opened the scoring from close range with a 2nd phase shot that rifled into the roof of the net.
Sheffield 1 – 0 Nailers
In previous weeks the Nailers have proven quite resilient to conceding an early goal and once again heads did not drop, it just seemed to spur the guys on to produce some great Hockey of their own.
Captain Mark Lamb and the returning Jake Bullock looked imperious at times at CB and time and again the Nailers threatened the Sheffield ‘D’ through strong midfield play from Steve Batten and Joe Paul, but unfortunately just couldn’t get the rewards their pressure deserved.
On 25 mins Sheffield extended their lead from a worked penalty corner giving the home team breathing space in this fast encounter.
Sheffield 2 – 0 Nailers
But the Nailers just would not lay down and on 30 mins got their just rewards, as great play from Man of the Match Alex Robey found Dave Ebbage on the left inside the Sheffield ‘D’, as he scanned he spotted Walton driving in at the far post and played a crashing ball which Walton volleyed first time from close range into the Sheffield goal to bring the Nailers closer to their Premiership rivals.
Sheffield 2 – 1 Nailers
Coach Murry’s ½ time talk focussed on getting back to the basics and focusing on our game plan.
As the 2nd half started we came out of the blocks with fire in the bellies and pushed Sheffield back into their own 25mtr area time and time again, their defensive tactics at times saw all 11 players inside the defensive quarter trying to stop a now rampant Nailers team.
But Sheffield are not a Premiership side for nothing and were looking to punish us on the counter attack and on 42 mins a break out and well worked side line play saw Sheffield win another Penalty corner which they despatched to once again give them the 2 goal cushion somewhat against the run of play.
Sheffield 3 – 1 Nailers
Belper reintroduced young Alex Robey into the game and his influence was felt almost immediately as time after time his driving runs were causing havoc within the Sheffield defence, and on 50 mins the pressure the Nailers were exerting paid off as Walton found Drew Burkin inside the Sheffield area to crash home a well placed shot to get the Nalers within 1.
Sheffield 3 – 2 Nailers
By now we were totally dominating the midfield areas and looked the most likely to score again but it was Sheffield that almost scored again as another penalty corner looked to be going in but Chris Burton in goal somehow showed great flexibility and reflexes doing the splits to turn the ball around the post with his foot, a stunning save.
This game was now truly in the balance and you could have easily forgotten this was just a friendly as both side were giving it their all.
On 60 mins though Belper won another Penalty corner, again after great work from Robey. Time for the skipper Mark Lamb to step up and crash home the Nailers equaliser with a trade mark thumper.
Sheffield 3 – 3 Nailers
What a game.
Belper were playing some superb Hockey all over the field and Sheffield just didn’t seem to be able to cope with intensity of play and as the final whistle blew you just knew that the Nailers have turned a corner.
Sheffield 3 – 3 Nailers
2-0 and 3-1 down we could have easily collapsed today but this squad is just not that type of team anymore. Robes was brilliant this afternoon and had a huge influence on the game particularly in the 2nd half.
It truly felt that we didn’t have a weakness anywhere across the field from the 2 keepers who both made great saves at times right up to the forward line who just keep on scoring.
Things are looking good but we know these last 5 wins have only been in friendly games and it’s the league that counts, but we do have 1 priceless commodity going back into the league programme next week —Momentum
With Smooth still is Australia and Mozza not available yet the squads looking good and will only get stronger, although this is giving headaches with regards to selection but that’s one problem we don’t mind.
One final thing I do want to add is the comment from the sidelines from one Belper spectator……
“That is the best and most exciting I’ve seen Bepler play in 2 years, you’d pay to come and watch that every week, what a difference”
There you go, next Sunday 2pm on the Meadows v Deeside in the Now Pensions National League, be there you won’t be disappointed.