Meakin header spoils Belper promotion party

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Belper Town 1, New Mills 1

New Mills earned a deserved point and spoilt Belper Town’s play-off party at Christchurch Meadow on Saturday.

The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes was when Belper’s Ashley Longstaff’s strike eight minutes before the interval was ruled out for offside. Then defender Greg Wright was well positioned on the goal-line to prevent a New Mills effort from going in.

The game’s momentum changed ten minutes into the second half when the visitors were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty kick. Skipper Carlos Meakin appeared to be hauled back by full-back Charlie Weir as he made a trademark run into the penalty area but with no decision forthcoming from the officials, within a matter of 30 seconds at the other end Ashley Longstaff escaped his marker for about the only time of the afternoon as he collected Ben Leonard’s pass before decisively shooting past James Coates to open the scoring.

That goal saw the home team in the playoffs but the game took a dramatic twist 13 minutes later when The Millers grabbed a thoroughly merited equaliser. Luke Horrocks’ pinpoint left-wing cross found Meakin who guided his diving header into the bottom corner past giant keeper Aaron Chapman. That strike saw Meakin end up with 21 goals this season.

Belper laid siege to Coates’ goal late on but the visiting keeper was agile enough to palm away an effort and when he was finally beaten, Longstaff’s effort bounced off the underside of the crossbar.

New Mills: Coates, Bowler, Moss, Swirad, Chadwick, Lonsdale, Meakin, Millen, Deegan (Needham), Grandison, Horrocks. Unused subs: Pickering, Benson, Innes.