On Tuesday 21st April, Belper played Rushall at Christchurch Meadow. Belper needed all 3 points to hang on to a faint hope of the title but a single point would guarantee 2nd place and home advantage in the play off semi. Rushall wanted a win to keep up their play off challenge.
Richard Haigh's header just missed the target.
The game wasn't the greatest contest we've seen this season - some of the Belper players looked a bit tired and tense - but it was spoiled by the antics of some of the Rushall players who between them, got more medical attention than you see in an episode of Casualty. The goalkeeper being the main culprit.
In the first 5 minutes, Ant Wilson chased a long ball toward the corner flag. The keeper came rushing out of his area and the two players collided, the keeper actually handling the ball outside the box. He then went down like he had been poleaxed and demanded treatment to whatever part of his body he was alleged to have hurt. Ant Wilson got booked for challenging for the ball. (Thought that was a part of the game?).
This wasn't the only time the keeper was "hurt" and he must have spent a good 15 minutes of the 90 getting attention but the most bizarre piece of play acting happened in midfield. A 50-50 challenge between the Rushall No.7 and Kris Kotylo left both players on the ground as the ball spun away. Kots got up and got on with it whilst the No. 7 lay in the centre circle doing a passable impression of a corpse. He stayed there for a good 30 seconds before the ball passed within 20ft of him again and he made a remarkable, treatment free recovery, jumped up and chased after it at pace.
The second half, and in particular the last 20 minutes, saw a much better performance from Belper who came from 2 - 0 down to make it 2 -2 at the final whistle. Mr 'Arrisons pictures are here:
On Wednesday, we decided, since it was a nice evening, that we'd have a drive down to Bakewell, have fish & chips by the river, (is there a prettier town in the Peak District on a sunny evening?) then meander down to Belper to watch the reserves.
The reserves put on a great show - winning 5 - 0 against an older, more experienced Radford Reserves team which apparently included some of their first team squad. I took some shots before the light went. They are here if you wanna look:
Final comments for tonight - as I said it's Rushall at home in the play off semi tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to the football but a bit anxious about meeting Rushall again after so short a time. Their keeper left the field last week to loud chants of "Cheat" (we found out afterwards that he's just returned from a six-week ban imposed by the FA allegedly for playing under a false name in a Sunday League - hence David Clarke, our keeper who was displaced by Leigh Walker - joining Rushall a few weeks ago.)
But we also learned on Wednesday at the reserve game that there were one or two threats and accusations made in the clubhouse after the presentation of the Man of the Match to Ant Wilson. There was, according to our Secretary, an "atmosphere" and a lot of tension with bad language from both sides. It allegedly began with the Rushall Secretary accusing Belper of "taking the p*ss" by awarding the MoM to Willo! Some of his team mates reacted and the tension grew very quickly apparently. I'm glad me and The Duchess left immediately after the presentation!
I just hope the 'afters' don't 'kick-off' again tomorrow!