With the club in turmoil off the pitch, manager Gary Hayward can be rightfully pleased with the effort and commitment on the field as his charges matched their high-flying neighbours Belper in an entertaining game.
Belper lined up with four ex-Badgers in their ranks which included Mark Ward, Chris Adam, Sam Duncum and recently departed Kieron Wells. The Badgers gave debuts to goalkeeper Denham Hinds and striker Alex Haughton.
Adam wasted the first chance of the game, blasting wildly wide when he had the time and space to pick his spot.
The Badgers started brightly and took the game to their opponents, Andy Hutchinson and Haughton both flashing shots wide of the uprights.
Hutchinson was twice thwarted by a difficult pitch; on both occasions he pushed the ball past his marker for a clear run through on goal only to see the ball hold up in the long grass.
The Badgers were causing the defence problems with their quick incisive forward play, Henry Sibenge pulling the strings.
In the 14th minute Hutchinson laid the ball perfectly into the path of Haughton who saw his dipping screamer just clear the crossbar. Moments later Haughton returned the favour and Hutchinson’s shot cannoned back off the bar.
At the other end Glyn Cotton’s shot from the edge of the box was easily dealt with by Hinds.
The Badgers were soon back on the offensive and Elijah Reid found some space to deliver a telling ball into the box only to see Hutchinson’s header sail past the post.
Belper finally woke up and Phil Watt wasted a good chance from a 35th minute corner before the visitors opened the scoring in the 37th minute as Ward prodded home after a corner was only half cleared.
One recurring feature of the last three years has been conceding goals in quick succession and the same thing happened again as Ward sprung the Eastwood offside trap three minutes later, rounding the keeper to score his second.
The Badgers had a blistering start to the second-half with Haughton missing two great chances in the opening seconds.
The home side were indebted to defender Luke Rowe for a superb block on the line as the visitors responded to their sluggish start.
Sibenge forced Scott Low into a good save at the foot of the post and Ward missed a good chance for his hat-trick sending a free header wide.
Low then also saved well from Reid before Jon Froggatt had a glorious chance to wrap the game up with a one-on-one which Hinds blocked.
However, the striker made amends in the 73rd minute, turning his man in the box before driving the ball home.
Sibenge scored a consolation goal for the home side and the same player hit the post late on for the Badgers which could have made the last few minutes interesting but it wasn’t to be.
Saturday, November 9, 2013:
Eastwood: 1 Denham Hinds 2 Elijah Reid 3 Luke Rowe 4 Elliott Green 5 Tyrone Burton 6 Roberto Labbatte 7 Josh Schofield 8 Henry Sibenge 9 Andy Hutchinson 10 Alex Haughton 11 Jacob Sturgess. Subs not used: Vijay Selvam, Josh Raby, Dan Dobbie
Belper: 1 Scott Low 2 Chris Jones 3 Liam Davis 4 Glyn Cotton 5 Phil Watt (Colin Marrison 52) 6 Richard Adams 7 Simon Harrison 8 Steve Warne 9 Jon Froggatt (Kieran Wells 86) 10 Mark Ward (Shaun Tuton 70) 11 Chris Adam. Subs not used: Sam Duncum, Dave Ratcliffe.
Ref: James Bell Best Badger: Henry Sibenge
Report by Andy Cope