Determined Belper are now only two wins from the Midland Men’s Hockey League, Premier Division title after bouncing back from a rare defeat the previous week.
With Polish international Damian Jarzembowski netting a hat-trick, Belper recorded a vital 7-3 victory away to struggling Barton to maintain their narrow one-point advantage at the top of the table.
They now know that if they win home games against mid-table Lichfield tonight (Thursday, 8 pm) and then fourth-from-bottom West Bridgford on Saturday (2.30 pm), they will be crowned champions.
Jarzembowski said: “Everyone knew the importance of the game against Barton. It was huge for us, and we needed to be focused to get the win.
“The guys were great. We played some superb hockey and dominated the game.
“It was great to score my second hat-trick for the club, but I am very proud of my teammates for their support and help on the pitch.”
The match started in Arctic conditions as snow showers swept around the pitch. The opening exchanges were slow and cagey, but Belper duo Ben Hurst and Sam Dixon bossed midfield, and it wasn’t long before the first goal as James Gough crashed a shot under advancing goalkeeper Jamie Carlin after a neat exchange of passes.
Barton soon levelled when Jacob Foster sent the ball high into the roof of the net from a penalty corner, but Belper led 3-1 by the break as Chris Hall deflected the ball into the net from a corner by Dixon, who then fired low into the net from a penalty corner.
The never-say-die hosts opened the second half by reducing the deficit before Jarzembowski opened his account and was then instrumental in a superb passing move that led to Dixon’s second.
Barton pulled another goal back to make it 5-3, but the rest of the contest belonged to Belper’s mighty Pole, who added two more goals to complete his treble.