Five-star Sam Dixon spearheaded a free-scoring victory for rampant Belper in the opening round of the England Hockey Tier One Championships on Sunday.
In a match that completed a double-header weekend for Belper, they travelled to meet Derbyshire rivals Barton and returned home with an impressive 9-3 win.
The deadly Dixon bagged five of the goals, converting penalty corner after penalty corner, to take his tally for the season to 17 already.
“On a personal note, it’s always nice to score some goals,” said Dixon. “But what pleased me most were the team goals we scored and the understanding we now have as a forward unit.
“Having gone a goal down early on, we quickly rallied and started to play some free-flowing, fast-paced, passing hockey. We ended up dominating the game to the final whistle.”
The result was even more satisfying because Belper were able to field only a bare 11 players after they were hit by injuries and unavailability. They went into the tie simply hoping to emerge unscathed, with progress to the next round perhaps not a priority. But victory kept their momentum going and left them full of confidence ahead of this Saturday’s important league match at home to unbeaten tabletoppers Harborne.
As well as Dixon’s goals, there were two for Scott Marsh, one for Ben Hurst and a first for the club from Saleem Khalid.
Assistant coach Ashley Blakemore was in a buoyant mood after the game. He said: “I’m proud of how the squad has developed over the last few weeks. Against Barton, we showcased our tremendous resilience, as well as our workrate.
“We are really becoming a cohesive unit, and our attacking hockey is extremely exciting to part of. All the squad has worked tirelessly over the last few weeks.”