Hickman sinks a treble to down Leek

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Belper men’s first team came away with the points after a 5-3 win at Leek in the NOW:Pensions Conference North.

With Belper lying bottom of the league and Leek just above, this was a must-win game for both sides.

Riding high from last weekend’s excellent performance against league leaders Bowdon, Belper were looking to maintain momentum.

Despite losing fearsome striker Drew Burkin to injury, the side welcomed back Thomas Ryland from international duty.

The Nailers began the game as intended, full of intensity and with some slick one-two passing.

It was all too much for the home side to cope with, as Matthew Hickman broke the Leek defensive line to put Belper 1-0 up after just three minutes.

This however, acted as a wake up call to the hosts, raising them from their Saturday morning slumber to strike back on eight minutes to level the scores.

Belper were awarded a penalty stroke on 24 minutes, which Ben Walton fired home with accuracy.

Leek too were awarded a penalty stroke just eight minutes later, which they converted to again level the scores at 2-2.

Despite Belper’s dominance, and some rock-solid defending from Ben Fogell and Ashleigh Blakemore, Leek were able to snatch the lead on 32 minutes with a well-struck shot from Paul Dawson.

An important half-time team-talk was due, with coach William Murray reiterating his extensive pre-match plan.

The second half began with a much-improved Belper attitude and fully aware of their superior skill set and physical prowess, they began to dominate proceedings.

The score was once again levelled, by Batten this time who dribbled majestically through the Leek back-line to slot home on 49 minutes to make it 3-3.

As Belper’s ability showed, so did Leek’s frailty - something of which predator Hickman was hungry to take full advantage of.

The pacey frontman danced his way through the home side’s back four to wound Leek with a superb solo effort. Then, as if Hickman hadn’t done enough damage, he placed his dagger firmly into Leek hearts with his third goal and Belper’s fifth of the match on 70 minutes to claim all three points.

l Belper host University of Durham this Sunday, at home (2pm).