The moon shone brightly over the Parish Hall Ground in Selston, Nottinghamshire, supplementing the floodlights. We all need a bit of extra power at the moment.
I had travelled down the M1 through a thunderstorm with the speed limit reduced to 30 due to standing water to see the United Counties Premier Division North match between Selston and Belper United. Neither team have started the season strongly and Selston were still winless second from bottom of the league and Belper were finding it hard having been promoted last season.
As I approached the venue the black clouds parted and the rain stopped. The car park here was just for players and officials but nearby parking in the housing estate was available. Walking through the gate you can see the football pitch beyond the cricket square which runs down one side of the football playing area. There is another grass football field to the right and some tennis courts so it looks like a sporting hub for the town.
The playing surface looked a lush green and a chat at half time with some local helpers told me that the sprinklers had achieved that. No hosepipe ban here then
The pitch has a slope from end to end, with good floodlights and there is a mobile communication aerial in one corner. There are two small covered seating areas and one covered standing area all down the opposite side to the cricket.
To the right of the entrance is a compact, comfortable club house and changing rooms serving the cricket and football. Hot food and drinks were available but no chips so I sat down to watch an enormous TV showing Ajax outplaying Rangers.
Selston only started Saturday football in 1986 having been initially formed as a Sunday League team in 1968. They disbanded the senior team for three years in the early 21st century and now sit at their highest level of competition.
There is photographic evidence that Belper United came into existence around the early 1920’s and were active for around 20 years. A merger in 1969 between Milford Sports and Belper Park Rangers created the current club. They have played in the Midland Regional Alliance, the Central Midlands League, East Midlands Counties League and in the reorganisation of the Non-League structure now find themselves in The United Counties League. They were promoted from Division One last season via the play offs.
Selston 1 Belper United 3
Wednesday 7th September 2022 19.45 kick off.
The Parishioners v United Attendance 132
Belper played down hill in the first half and forced the pace hitting the woodwork twice early on and it was no surprise that they took the lead in the 29th minute when a long ball from the Belper keeper was not cleared by the home teams left back and the resulting cross was bundled in by Richard Hanslow after the woodwork was hit again. The away team kept up the pressure and went further ahead 5 minutes before half time when Smyth was fouled in the area and Kieran O’Connell converted the spot kick by placing it to the left of the diving goalkeeper.
Belper deserved their 2 nil half time lead but Selston came out with more ambition in the second and started exerting pressure on the away team. This pressure was rewarded on 64minutes when a cross from the right was controlled with one touch on the edge of the box by Taylor Conway who despite calls for hand ball curved the ball into the bottom corner.
Selston continued to press but their fight was blunted when Belper scored a third on 78 minutes when a ball swung in from a free kick was directed towards goal by Richard Hanslow and it took a vicious deflection looping over the head of the outstretched goalkeeper to nestle in the corner of the net.
Belper deserved to win but I thought that Selston showed enough to predict it will not be long before their first win unfortunately the moon was not a favorable omen.