A debut hat-trick from Ryan Oliver helped Sleaford Town bounce back from their limp FA Cup exit with a five-goal demolition job.
All three Town forwards got on the scoresheet in a 5-0 demolition of Northampton ON Chenecks at Eslaforde Park on Saturday.
The result made it six points from nine in the United Counties League Premier Division and lifted them into a promising sixth place in the early season standings.
And yet manager Jamie Shaw insists there is still some work to do to reach the levels he expects from his improving side.
He told the Standard: “The performance was certainly better than last Saturday, although we still have quite a way to go to reach the standards that we have set for ourselves in terms of our ball retention and our quality in possession.
“We were, however, always a goal threat and we had quality in terms of our delivery into the box.”
Shaw gave a full debut to the returning Oliver in a side full of attacking intent.
And the tactic paid off within 30 seconds when Town earned a penalty, converted by Michael Hayden.
Sleaford dominated the first half, with George Couzens hitting the post on the break and then forcing a great save.
But Town’s lead remained slender nearing half-time until two goals in four minutes from Oliver gave the hosts breathing space, the first from Archie Moyses’ long throw.
After being on the receiving end of an excellent Town display, the visitors responded well after the break, and hit the post midway through the half.
But it served only to spark Town into life, with Couzens killing off any fading hopes of a revival when he headed in Millard’s cross with 18 minutes left.
And two minutes later, Oliver capped the win and top performance with his hat-trick goal.
“We set up in a very attacking manner with a 3-4-3 formation as we wanted to start the game on the front foot after being too passive last week,” Shaw added.
“We have added strength in depth to our squad now and there is real competition for places which we will need as we aim for as high a league finish as possible.”
But a little gloss was taken off the win by news of Simon Bolland’s injury, picked up in the cup defeat to South Normanton.
Specialists have confirmed that Bolland has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), as well as incurred slight damage to his medial ligament and torn the meniscus cartilage.
Shaw explained: “He’s due to have an op in the next fortnight and it’s looking like he will be out for at least the remainder of this season and probably a full year.
“We’re all gutted for Bolly as he is a top player and an even better lad, and we’ll try to keep him involved around the squad as much as possible.”
Town have no game on Saturday.