Tom Burton hit a hat-trick as Shoreham Football Club cruised to a 6-0 win at home to AFC Uckfield on Saturday.
Burton’s treble owed much to the delivery of Shoreham’s exceptional wingers Jamie Cradock and Richard Greenfield, who caused the visitors’ defence no end of problems.
Mussels’ frontman Burton was only denied by a last-ditch challenge by Ben Radley from a Greenfield cross on two minutes, but the hosts went ahead moments later. Cradock’s inch-perfect left-wing cross was headed into the bottom corner by Burton.
Heavy rain made conditions difficult but Southern Combination League leaders Shoreham looked comfortable throughout and upped their game midway through the half, creating several chances in quick succession.
Uckfield keeper Matt Dann denied Cradock and Rob O’Toole, Greenfield blazed over after cutting in from the right and the winger then had an effort cleared off the line before Mussels went 2-0 up on 32 minutes.
Cradock’s corner was met by the unmarked Burton inside the six-yard box and his downward header gave Dann no chance.
Shoreham keeper Josh Heyburn easily saved a Matt McLean header at the other end, before the hosts went 3-0 ahead on 42 minutes. O’Toole played in Burton and his effort came back off the post to O’Toole, whose mishit shot was turned home by Greenfield from close range.
Burton completed his hat-trick with an acrobatic volley from Greenfield’s right-wing cross on 51 minutes for his fifth goal of the season.
Cradock was denied by a superb Dann save on 65 minutes, before the visiting keeper again blocked a shot from Shoreham’s left-winger two minutes later.
Mussels got their fifth 15 minutes from time when substitute Jake Chadwick’s low cross was turned into his own net by Samuel Cooper.
Dann pushed away a Burton volley on 79 minutes and the striker then headed over, before he was tripped in the penalty area a minute from time. Skipper Joe Keehan stepped up to send Dann the wrong way from the penalty spot for his sixth goal of the season.
The win moved Mussels five points clear at the top of the Premier Division table as second-placed Pagham lost just their second league game of the season, 3-2 at home to Eastbourne Town.
The game was Mussels’ first match after a ten-day break and manager Bryan O’Toole said: “It was really pleasing, especially after a long break. I thought it would do us good and maybe it has but we didn’t get to train on Thursday, so we needed the game to be on today.
“We scored early but then it took us a while to score again. I’d have liked us to get a second a bit sooner but we looked comfortable all game.”
SHOREHAM: Heyburn; Denyer, Zydonik, O’Hagan, Hartley; Greenfield, J.Keehan, Martin, Cradock; R.O’Toole, Burton. Subs: Chadwick, Rowe-Hurst (O’Toole, Greenfield 54), Storrie, Measor.
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