English Hockey League
Men’s Conference North
Olton & West Warwicks 3
Sam McCambridge made an immediate impact on his return to Belper as he equalised for the Derbyshire side who went on to win 4-3 against a strong Olton side.
The hosts were led by Great Britain international Michael Johnson.
However, McCambride’s goal, along with strikes from Blackwell, Inshaw and Ebbage was enough to help Belper claim their first points since mid-November.
First team coach Graham Joyce was delighted. He said: “#We had to battle hard and we showed great character to come back from a goal down. I thought we deserved to win the game, it’s been a long time coming.”
On a wet and horrible day at an impressive Olton and West Warwicks Sports Club, Belper arrived boosted by the returning McCambridge and looking for a much-needed win to pull away from the relegation spots.
With less than five minutes gone, Ed James gave the hosts a perfect start as Belper squandered possession in the middle and a superb pass from Michael Johnson saw James pick the ball up in the circle and slide it under the exposed Neill Slane in the Belper goal.
Undeterred, Belper continued to play their hockey and looked to have a goal threat with McCambridge on the pitch.
Indeed it took just 27 minutes for McCambridge to open his account as he turned his man in the circle and slid the ball past the Olton keeper.
At 1-1 Belper looked confident and they continued to take the game to the hosts.
Half-time came and went and the Nailers exploded out the blocks as they looked to take control of the game.
It looked like Belper’s luck was again against them as a pass from Tom Sherratt struck an Olton defender who deflected the ball past his own keeper. However the umpire, unsure whether Sherratt was in the circle or not, was not in a position to give the goal.
Belper, feeling hard done by, reacted in the best possible way as just two minutes later James Blackwell smashed the ball home to give the Nailers the lead.
Still pushing forward Belper looked to have rattled Olton who were now making lots of individual errors. It was from one of these errors Belper capitalised as Ben Inshaw was on hand in the 51st minute to slam the ball into the net after good work fom Tom Leatherland.
At 3-1 the game became uncomfortable for the visitors as Olton pressed and Belper panicked and with just six minutes left, Chris George gave the hosts hope as he scored from a well-worked penalty corner.
At 3-2 you would have forgiven Belper for looking to shut up shop, but instead they continued to press forward.
Now on the break the ball arrived at Sherratt. A good pass to Luke Davies saw him enter the circle along the baseline and an excellent pass found Dave Ebbage on the back post to sweep home to secure what turned out to be the winner.
Ebbage has impressed in recent weeks as he seems to be developing well as a player and it was great to see him get his just reward.
At 4-2 up with five minutes to go the game looked safe, however in true Belper fashion they made their fans wait as with just a minute Rich Thom scored from another penalty corner. Luckily the final whistle went shortly afterwards and Belper clung onto three very much-needed points.