Stamford Lions went back to the top of the Peterborough League Premier Division on Saturday after an 8-2 win over Sawtry which saw new signing Tom Cardall hit a hat-trick on his first team debut.
Cardall - who has been playing for Bourne Town this season - was signed in the wake of top scorer Luke Ball leaving for a year out to travel around Australia.
And the new recruit made an immediate impact when he opened the scoring with little over five minutes on the clock after slamming home a low cross from Tom Edwards.
The early goal settled Lions and they soon found their top gear with Jordan Paylor firing in a second from the edge of the box on the quarter-hour mark.
Edwards then made it 3-0 after just 20 minutes from the penalty spot after a goalbound shot was handled on the line.
Jake Walton thought he had added a fourth when Tom Lees’ shot crashed off the bar and he fired in the rebound but an offside flag was raised as Lees was stood in an offside position on the rebound shot.
Lions continued on the front foot though, probing the Sawtry defence, but in the final minute of the first half the visitors closed the gap with a goal of their own as a cross-come-shot from out wide curled over goalkeeper John Feetham and dipped in under the crossbar.
Any hopes of a second half comeback for Sawtry though were soon shot down as Lees fired in a fourth for Lions within two minutes of the restart.
Walton then got his name on the scoresheet with an excellent finish after dribbling past two defenders for Lions’ fifth.
Cardall made it 6-1 when he rolled his marker and slotted past an over-worked goalkeeper before he completed his hat-trick with a delicate chip shot that looped over the keeper and into the net.
Lees scored an eighth for the Stamford side, grabbing his second of the game with a fierce strike into the top corner.
Sawtry finished the second half as they did the first with a last minute goal as a deep corner was headed in to finish the scoring at 8-2.
Lions boss James Sheehan said: “It was a very strong performance and I was delighted with the chances we took.
“Obviously losing Luke (Ball) is a massive dent in our attack with the goals he generated, but bringing Tom Cardall in is a boost and scoring a hat-trick in his first game is just a perfect start that will give himself and the team confidence.
“Being top of the league in March is a nice touch but of cause we are fully aware the form Netherton are showing and, with the games they have in hand, it’s theirs to throw away.
“We are just looking to finish the season in good form.”