A brace by Sarah Glenn at last enabled bottom-of-the-table Belper Ladies to break their goal drought after firing three blanks in the Women’s Conference North of the Investec National Women’s Hockey League.
But Glenn’s early goals were not enough to prevent them sliding to their fourth straight defeat -- this time 3-2 at fellow strugglers Sutton Coldfield, who fought back gamely to record their opening win of the new season.
Glenn struck in the fourth and 13th minutes before the West Midlands hosts responded with strikes from Susan Wood in the 29th minutes, Vicky Woolford on 42 and Bethan Merriman on 47.
Better news from the Midland Men’s Hockey League where Belper stay top of the Premier Division after extending their unbeaten start to the campaign to four matches with a thrilling 5-4 victory over fellow high-fliers Lichfield.
Goals from Sam Dixon and Nick Morris gave them a 2-0 advantage at the break and although the visitors pulled one back, Belper appeared to be coasting after Ross Duncan and Dixon had stretched the lead to 4-1.
Lichfield staged a plucky fightback, however, and cut the deficit to 4-3 before the deadly Dixon completed his second successive hat-trick from a penalty corner. There was still time for another goal at the other end, but Belper saw out a tense final few minutes to grab an important win and inflict the first defeat of the season on their opponents.
They face another crucial match this coming Saturday (1.30 pm) when travelling to Highfields to meet Nottingham University, who have replaced Lichfield in second spot in the table.