Boss Grant Black full of confidence as Belper Town get season under way

Manager Grant Black says Belper Town are aiming to take the momentum from a positive pre-season into the new NPL Midlands campaign which gets under way this weekend.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 3:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 3:26 pm
Danny South celebrates scoring Belper's fourth goal against Mickleover. Photo by Mike Smith.

The Nailers open up with a home game against Cambridgeshire side Histon on Saturday before then travelling to Chasetown three days later.

And having rounded off pre-season with a 4-2 win over NPL Premier Division side Mickleover last weekend, Black is in confident mood.

He said: “You can’t pay too much attention to results in pre-season but our performance levels week on week have been improving as we get closer to the new season and that’s what has been most pleasing.

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Grant Black applauds the fans after Saturday's win. Photo: Mike Smith.

"We go into the first games with some good momentum and having beaten a really good side from the league above in our last friendly – where both teams were playing their strongest sides – that’s perhaps one pre-season result that is worth noting and it was a good performance from us.”

Saturday’s opponents Histon are something of an unknown quantity for Black and his men, being one of several ‘new faces’ Belper will come up against following the reorganisation of the step four leagues across the country.

Black added: “We’ve struggled to get them watched as a few of their friendlies were called off for COVID-related reasons, but we did get someone to their game last weekend.

"They’ve had a lot of changes as the new league has created problems with travelling for some of their players – I think they’ve brought in seven new faces in the last week or so.

"So it’s hard to know what sort of side we’ll face and I’m sure their new lads will be wanting to prove a point to their new manager and team-mates, but we just have to be ready ourselves and concentrate on our own game.

"Chasetown will then be a tough game on Tuesday but then there aren’t any easy games. They are well established at this level, did well before the season was ended last year and have kept a lot of their best players from the last couple of seasons, so it’ll be a difficult test for us.”

As for personnel, Black is happy with the squad he’s managed to assemble, with much of his work in the transfer market having been done early in the summer.

He added: “We are over the moon with the 18 or so players we’ve got and I don’t anticipate having to bring anyone else in.

"Obviously over time you rely on a bit of luck when it comes to injuries and suspensions but certainly as we are at the moment I think we’ve got a really good squad.”

Saturday’s win against Mickleover saw Belper go in front on seven minutes when Josh Woodcock crossed for Brodie Lichfield to score.

Mickleover equalised through Stuart Beavan five minutes later but Belper regained the lead on 26 as Jonathan Margetts headed home.

It was 3-1 on 32 minutes thanks to Craig Nelthorpe’s viciously swerving shot, and although Declan Bacon’s penalty reduced the arrears again just after the break, Danny South rounded off the win on 75 minutes.

Following the games with Histon and Chasetown, Belper will then host Midland Football League side Whitchurch Alport in the FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday, August 21.