Following the disappointing end to October with the first defeat of the season Grove hoped to bounce back and faced West Didsbury on November 5th in Wythenshawe, Didsbury under new management had made a slow start to the season.
Grove didn’t disappoint and took a well deserved lead as top scorer Ben Brooks headed in a cross from the quick thinking Darrell Dicken in what was a controlled but fairly uneventful half.
The second half was a totally different story as the visitors seemed to go up at least three gears and really turned the screw on Didsbury.
Brooks bagged header after header, in fact four headers in a row as Grove outplayed the home side and returned to the top of the league in style. Grove received a boost with the return of defender Johny Renshaw who was returning after injury.
Justino added a fifth, great reward for his hard working performance, later Brooks scored his fifth of the day and 20th of the campaign and Dicken made it seven before the home side scored a conciliation.
West Didsbury 1 (Stokes) Hazel Grove 7 (B Brooks 5, Dicken, Edmilson)
Next up was a trip to current champions North Manchester who were struggling to repeat their heroics last season.
Grove started the game on the front foot dominating play and moving the ball well, unlocking the home sides defence on several occasions. The opener came as Ben Brooks was brought down by the goalkeeper allowing Jason Walley to convert from the resulting spot kick, moments later the lead was cancelled out as the North Manchester midfielder stole in at the back post for 1-1.
Grove responded almost immediately and re established their lead as captain Josh Taylor headed in from close range, as the football flowed so did more goals, a Ben Brooks brace, a Darrell Dicken free kick and a rare 20 yard strike from the in-form Kai Burkitt sent the league leaders in at half time with a well deserved 6-1 lead.
Football is a game of two halves and Grove now attacking in the half which could only be described as a paddling pool in places struggled to keep the ball and play any sort of football, the ever deteriorating conditions suited the North Manchester side who pumped the ball forward on every occasion and due to the slippery surface, a series of uncharacteristic errors and some great finishing let the home side pull the score back to 6-5 with fifteen to play.
With ten minutes left on the clock Grove scored what proved to be the most important goal of the day as Darrell Dickens driven corner was turned into his own net by the North Manchester goalkeeper, but then straight from kick off the home side scored again and continued to pressurise right until the final whistle but Grove hung on for a 7-6 win.
North Manchester 6 Hazel Grove 7 (B Brooks 2, Dicken 2, Taylor, Walley, Burkitt)
The usual bad weather kicked in with a number of postponed games, it was a month before Grove played again and a tough game against Baguley greeted them.
Before the game manager Duncan Warrender had selected his team and left striker Edmilson Justino on the bench but with Sam Davidson stuck in traffic Justino, clearly frustrated at being left out of the team, was given a place in the starting XI.
It was to be the strikers day as he completed an excellent hat-trick as Grove put on a superb display against a strong Baguley side who had only lost one game all season.
Grove led 3-0 at half time after a great team display but let Baguley back into the game early in the second half. However, Justino completing his hat-trick and a Ben Brooks goal completed the victory.
Baguley Athletic 1 (McNair) Hazel Grove 5 (Edmilson 3, B Brooks, Leavy)
Three games in two months is always a frustrating time at this level but three wins meant that Grove would finish the year on top of the MSMFL Division One table.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Another outstanding period for the striker, 8 goals in the 3 games played – including a 5 goal blitz against West Didsbury. Brooks is a goal scorer and his work rate makes him a dangerous player against any opposition. It is hard to think of a better centre forward in the league and his goal against Baguley set the club record for scoring in consecutive games.