Grant Black praises 10-man Belper Town’s ‘colossal effort’ in Bank Holiday heat at Ilkeston
Belper Town’s “colossal effort” at Ilkeston on a sweltering Bank Holiday Monday will only serve to benefit the squad, says manager Grant Black.
The Nailers boss was delighted with his players after they returned from the New Manor Ground with a point having played the majority of the match with 10 men.
What’s more the game - a second in three days - was played in searing summer temperatures and against a Robins team on a high, having beaten Worksop Town on Saturday.
A proud Black said: “It was a colossal effort from every single one of them.
“To play in that heat with 11 men would have been hard for many teams, which I’m sure it was, but to do it for 75 minutes with 10 was just unbelievable.
“We could have quite easily have won the game too.
“I’m really proud of them. They put a great shift in.
“Some of them had been working nights on Sunday, another was a fitness instructor and had a class afterwards - all of those things mount up to what was an immense effort from everyone.”
And, although pleased with a point, Black said it could have been more.
“They are renowned for being a good football team and rightly so on a pitch like that,” he said.
“We knew it was going to be difficult against 11 men.
“We started the game really well and had to regroup after the sending off but we got our formation right.
“Then at half-time, we got together and came up with a game plan.
“We’d been dangerous from set-pieces for all of the first half and we felt if we could frustrate them then we could nick one.
“We had a good couple of chances and we kept them in front of us. We frustrated them and had the better chances to win the game.
“Under those circumstances, though, I’m very happy with the point.
He added: “That can only bring the players closer as a group.
“A game like that shows everyone that the players have got each other’s backs.
“That will only make us stronger as a group.”
Belper were reduced to 10 men when Steve Ridley was shown a red card for bringing down Ilkeston’s Cameron Dear through on goal and 25 yards out.
Black said: “It’s not a bad tackle.
“In their eyes, he’s probably the last man but I think our centre-half would have covered around so the striker wouldn’t have been through on goal.
“He wouldn’t have had a free shot, necessarily, but it was one of those that could have gone either way.
“They could have given him a booking but I can’t really complain about them giving him a red card.”
The goalless draw maintains Belper’s unbeaten start to the new season, following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Sporting Khalsa in the preliminary round of the FA Cup.
A fine display by Khalsa’s goalkeeper and a missed penalty late on meant the Nailers had to settle for a draw against their Midland Premier League opponents.
And in the eyes of Black it was a typical FA Cup tie.
“Sporting Khalsa are a really good side, we knew that going into the game, they won 7-0 on Monday in their league game.
“The keeper pulled five or six worldies off against us, we’ve missed a penalty but otherwise done everything to win that game.
“There were no cross words afterwards. It was a great performance from us but it was one of those days that whatever we hit, the keeper managed to save.
“We took the performance into Ilkeston and we’ll take Monday’s draw into Glossop at home on Saturday,” he added.
The replay with Sporting Khalsa has been scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3rd September (7.45pm kick off).