Belper United progress into the Second Round of the Cawarden Senior Challenge Cup.
In a contest where Belper United were the clear favourites, a heroic comeback and a late winner were required as underdogs South Normanton Athletic pushed them all the way to the final whistle.
The Derbyshire FA Senior Challenge Cup, sponsored by Cawarden, is back after three seasons, and it’s certainly returned with a bang with this thrilling Round One fixture; A tie that had two penalties, end-to-end play, and a last-minute winner. The match kicked off at 7:45pm, 11 October 2022, on a chilly evening at the Christchurch Meadow, Belper.
Within 10 minutes, the home side pressed well and had a couple of efforts at goal, but nothing tested Will Sherwood in the Normanton goal.
On 17 minutes, Belper attacker Alex Steadman had the ball in the net for the home side, but the offside was raised.
The hosts promising early spell began to wear off, and South Normanton got into the game with some good chances of their own, before eventually opening the score-line against all odds! The goal came in the 26th minute, as striker Connor Mogford skilfully beat his man and slotted it past the keeper. Belper United 0-1 South Normanton Athletic
For the next twenty minutes the match opened up, with fantastic end-to-end play and chances for either side, with the favourites desperately chasing for an equaliser.
The Greens couldn’t find a breakthrough, and the half-time whistle blew with the visitors leading by one goal. Belper made a change at the break, substituting on pacey winger Ben Ollett who would be sure to drive at the Shiners defence.
The home side burst onto the blocks as soon as the second half started, putting South Normanton under immense pressure. In the 50th minute, a man is brought down in the box and Belper were awarded a penalty, and a chance to equalise. Steadman stepped up for The Greens and confidently slotted it home. Belper United 1-1 South Normanton Athletic. Game on.
On the 66th minute, explosivewinger Ollett goes close, going on a superb, weaving run before shooting straight at Sherwood in The Shiners’ goal.
The latter stages of the second half got tense with the home side chasing a winner, while still being wary of South Normanton’s threat on the counter. The strong, durable defence of the visitors consistently dealt with every Belper attack.
That was, until the 88th minute, when a handball from a Normanton defender resulted in Belper being awarded another penalty. With just minutes left on the clock, it would be a cruel, heart-breaking way for the visitors to exit the Senior Challenge Cup. Martin Smyth stepped up for Belper, but his strike hit the bar and flew over! Penalty missed; Score remains 1-1.
Belper didn’t let the penalty miss fault them, as they relentlessly pushed on in the final minutes. In the 92nd minute, Belper went insanely close with a looping header that just goes wide. The game feels as though it’s destined for penalties…
Until in the 94th minute, Belper’s Richard Hanslow strides into the area and smashes the ball home! Pure joy and elation for the home side, as the team head over to the corner flag to celebrate in front of the cheering fans. Agony for South Normanton Athletic, as their hard graft and desire to cling onto the draw has come undone in the dying seconds.
The full-time whistle blows, and it finishes Belper United 2-1 South Normanton Athletic in this entertaining, unpredictable, and utterly captivating First Round tie of the Cawarden Senior Challenge Cup. This victory mean that Belper United progress into the second round.