Hockey champions’ big sign-off
Harpenden 1, Dereham Men 6
Dereham signed off their championship-winning hockey season with a very impressive victory.
Having tied the league up two weeks early, they were able to experiment with the team and positions, and it turned out to be a positive move.
Matt Turner was brought into the side to make his debut aged just 15 and impressed on the left wing.
Centre-back Mark Hunter was allowed a chance as centre-forward, and took it impressively by scoring his first ever hat-trick for Dereham.
Dereham opened the scoring with Hunter's first, a drag-flick high into the right-hand corner, giving the keeper absolutely no chance.
Will Edwards had changed wings, was causing just as much havoc as usual and set up the second goal for Chris Vernon, who showed great composure in front of goal to slot home his ninth goal of the season.
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Harpenden came close on a couple of occasions but were unable to break through the Dereham defence.
Harpenden managed to get back into the game briefly in the second half with a deflected shot, but Dereham were once again showing their dominance.
Richard Stainthorpe added a third following a slick move involving Edwards and Hunter, who laid the ball on a plate for Stainthorpe to nip in ahead of debutante Turner to finish in the open goal.
Stainthorpe doubled his tally when he pounced upon a loose ball at the top of the D, and unleashed a rasping shot which hit the roof of the net before the keeper had the chance to move.
Hunter completed his hat-trick with two well-worked goals.
The centre-back was able to find himself at the right place at the right time.
Dereham enjoyed some great success over the season, and will look to push on in Premier A next season.