New Frickley Athletic manager Martin McIntosh was delighted to get off to a winning start with his new club as the Blues came from behind to beat Loughborough Dynamo 3-2 at Westfield Lane.
A hat-trick from Jacob Hazel was just the tonic for the club as they ended a run of five straight defeats in the Evo-Stik League’s East Division and climbed back up the table to 13th.
“It’s great to get off to a start like that,” said McIntosh.
“To win any match is great, but especially for myself being my first match with the club. I’m delighted to get that under our belts and I think there’s a lot of positivity in that dressing room now.
“We are only 19 games in so there’s a long, long way to go. We have to be positive and build on this.
“We’re obviously conceding goals at the moment and I’d like to tighten up a little bit.
“But there’s a lot of good players in the dressing room. They’ve just lacked a little bit of confidence. It’s been a bit derailed this year with the manager leaving.
“Some of the players just need a little bit of confidence and guidance and they’ll be fine.
“I said to the lads here that I thought they just needed a bit of help, a little bit of experience and a little bit of physicality beside them and that’s why I have brought some players in.”
McIntosh praised striker Hazel who rediscovered his scoring touch in great style.
He added: “He’s a special player at this level with the amount of goals he’s scored not only this season, but last season as well.
“When you’ve got him in your team you’ve always got a chance.”
Frickley looked to make a flying start for their new manager as Ben Algar had a header well saved. Hazel got his first shot in, but it was well off target.
Loughborough had not read the script as they went ahead though Alex Steadman after 13 minutes, but the Blues dug in and came close to an equaliser as Dan Rowe was inches wide with a header from Algar’s free-kick.
Tyler Walton missed a chance before the hosts did level matters on 37 minutes with Hazel turning well in the area to shoot home.
Frickley went ahead seven minutes into the second half when Hazel netted again, this time with a delicious chip after he got in behind the visitors’ defence.
The joy did not last long as within two minutes Loughborough were back level, Josh Riley being allowed to run unchallenged to the area before somehow squeezing his shot past keeper Hugo Warhurst.
It was looking like another frustrating afternoon for the Blues as Rowe saw a free-kick well saved and they were still level going into the 90th minute. But a welcome change of fortune saw them come up with a late winner as Hazel bundled the ball in for his hat-trick from a fine left wing cross by Walton.
The new manager enjoyed his second victory in charge when Jacob Hazel’s second hat-trick in three days helped Frickley to reach the semi-finals of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup as they knocked out last year’s finalists Penistone Church.
After rediscovering his scoring touch in great style against Loughborough Hazel took just 46 seconds to fire the Blues ahead and went on to net a further twice with Connor Smith also on target in a 4-2 success.
Hazel made it 2-0 after 17 minutes and also hit the crossbar with a fantastic effort from 35 yards out while Phil Watt headed just wide and Ben Algar saw his shot from distance well saved.
Smith did make it 3-0 before half-time, however, with a fine solo effort.
It was effectively all over just seven minutes into the second period when Hazel completed his seventh hat-trick in Frickley colours with his own solo effort.
The Blues understandably eased up and Penistone pulled a goal back with a Jordan Coduri penalty that keeper Hugo Warhurst got a hand to without being able to keep out.
Tom Cadzow made it 4-2 late on, but it was just a consolation for the visitors.
Both sides had a player sent-off in injury-time with Sam Liversidge the player to see red for Frickley after a confrontation.
Frickley are on their travels north this Saturday when they play Marske United in the Evo-Stik East Division. They will be looking to do the double over them, having won 2-1 at Westfield Lane back in August.