Chesterfield Hockey Club secured the East Midlands Premier division title with two games to spare after an away victory over Melton.
The win also completed a run of 13 consecutive wins in an unbeaten season so far. The first half was scrappy with both conceding possession, but Chesterfield looked threatening and should have taken the lead when Tasmanian James Dick put Adam Bointon through before he rounded the goalkeeper but his shot hit a defender’s foot.
James Dick stepped up to take the resulting penalty stroke, but his low effort was saved by the Melton keeper. The visitors did not let that disappointment affect them and efforts from Christian Battye, Dick and Bointon produced excellent saves from the goal keeper.
At the other end, Matt Lloyd in the Chesterfield goal pulled off a save from a deflected shot and the scores remained level at half-time.
In the second half, the game began to open up and it was the visitors who broke the deadlock from a penalty corner when Jonno Hodgson picked out his brother Andy in front of goal to neatly deflect the ball inside the left post.
That removed any nervous tension that may have been building up for the visitors and Chesterfield started to dominate.
Pat Grant opened up his account for the season with a powerful shot that raced past the goal keeper at his near post after excellent skill by Dick found him unmarked at the top of the circle.
The winner came from the penalty spot, after Christian Battye’s shot was stopped by the Melton defender’s foot and Ben Lamb stepped up to convert the stroke by sending the keeper the wrong way. The home side had to thank their keeper again for preventing a fourth when Michael Fearn’s shot in front of goal produced another magnificent save.
That save seemed to inspire the home side and nervousness crept back into the Chesterfield side when the Melton centre-half picked up the ball on the half-way line and carried the ball 40 yards into the circle, producing a thunderbolt of a strike into the bottom left to beat Lloyd in goal. Ben Lamb sloppily lost possession in his 25 and was punished by another shot, this time on the reverse stick, which gave Lloyd no chance in goal. When the whistle blew the celebrations began as a 3 - 2 win with goals from Andy Hodgson, Grant and Lamb meant they will be promoted as league champions.