A brace from Warren Hatfield was enough to secure Eastwood a 2-2 draw at Belper United on Wednesday night - but the visitors had plenty of chances to take three points.
Christchurch Meadow hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Eastwood after a heavy 5-1 defeat in the league and a 2-1 loss that saw them dumped out of the CMFL League Cup Challenge last season.
But as they showed against Pinxton at the weekend, this is a much different team to last year and they were more than able to hold their own.
Eastwood were keen to put their mark on the game from the off and Jason Westwood had the first chance of the match in the opening minute, however his shot was off target.
Soon after it was Hatfield’s turn to try and open the scoring as he got on the end of a quality ball from Daniel Guild, but again he wasn’t able to find the net.
Hatfield scored in the 4-0 victory over Pinxton on Saturday and it was only a matter of time before he opened his account again, the breakthrough coming when he got his head to a cross from Dave Worger and bundled the ball home.
The away side were in the ascendancy and Hatfield in particular was profiting from their dominance in possession. He had a further two efforts as one rattled the crossbar whilst the other one was put past the post.
Belper began to find their rhythm and were rewarded from a set-piece. A wicked curling free-kick was enough to catch out Eastwood goalkeeper Andy Fretwell for the first time this season.
Sam Vickers is a name that Eastwood fans know all too well and he was up to his old tricks again causing problems on the left wing. He managed to get away from his man and let off a decent effort, however this time Fretwell wasn’t to be beaten and hung on to the ball.
Hatfield was enjoying the first 45 and he found another way through the Belper defence with a jinking run, his finish didn’t match the build-up.
He eventually found a second after Westwood cushioned a header into his path to send Eastwood into the break a goal up.
The visitors started the second-half strongly and Guild was finding some joy in wide areas.He found his way into the Belper penalty area twice but he couldn’t make either chance count.
Belper got a foothold in the second-half and began to play some dangerous football. Eastwood were left kicking themselves in the 67th minute after failing to defend a corner and conceding from another set-piece.
The home side were fired up and had a number of decent chances thwarted by Fretwell, most notably a close range header that the Eastwood keeper plucked out of the air.
After being in front for long periods of the game, Eastwood were determined to pull back ahead and Worger very nearly did so when he got a flick to a cross from Elliott Pitt that had the goalkeeper back-tracking and stretching to tip it over the bar.
Jerome O’Conner showed great potential last season and was finally deemed fit enough to take to the bench. Brought on late in the game, the striker had the final chance of the game to take the three points but he hadn’t brought his shooting boots.
Though Belper felt aggrieved at not being awarded what they felt was a clear penalty, there was to be no splitting the sides and both teams will argue they deserved it more in what was nonetheless a very entertaining stalemate.
Eastwood host Selston at Coronation Park on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.