Tring Athletic notched a stunning 5-0 win over in-form Arlesey Town on Saturday to maintain their grip on top spot in the SSML Premier Division with just six games to go.
Visitors Arlesey, in eighth place, had lost only one of their last nine games but Tring blew them away and could have even added more goals.
The victory puts Tring three points clear of second-placed Hadley, eights points ahead of third-placed Biggleswade United and nine points away from fourth-placed Biggleswade FC, although they have three games in hand.
The damage on Saturday came in the form of a Jon Clements hat-trick and a brace from George Ironton.
The first goal arrived after only four minutes when a burst of pace saw Ashton Campbell speed away down the left and send over a precise cross to pick out Clements, who produced a glorious first-time left-foot volley that ripped into the net for a stunning opener.
A period of pressure told in the 33rd minute when Town keeper Robbie Ponting made terrific saves from Clements and Campbell, but was finally beaten by Clements’ deft header into the corner from a Jack Sunderland cross for a 2-0 lead.
Just eight minutes into the second-half it was 3-0 when a visiting defender failed to keep control of the ball and Clements seized on the opportunity. He ran through and coolly slotted the ball home for his first hat-trick for the club.
On the hour, Athletic made absolutely sure of the result with a fourth goal of some quality. Tring were awarded a free-kick a few yards outside of the area and up stepped Ironton to curl the ball over the wall and beyond the Arlesey keeper’s reach.
Ironton capped a fine performance with his second goal of the game in the 85th minute after being set-up by Carl Mensah and Campbell to round off the scoring.
The whole team was superb so it was hard to pick a man of the match standout out, but full backs Brima Johnson and Tring lad Jack Sunderland were particularly impressive.
Tring now have two testing games in the coming days.
They were due to be on the field again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press when they visited Biggleswade FC in the semi-final of the League Cup. A win over their fellow title hopefuls could strike a psychological blow in the title race as well as a place in a cup final being at stake.
Athletic then travel to another in-form team, sixth-placed Colney Heath, this Saturday.