A burst of three goals in the last seven minutes of the first half teed up the sixth win on the trot in the Central Midlands League’s South Division for commanding leaders Belper United.
Belper faced a tricky trip to Linby Colliery Welfare, and for the first 38 minutes, it was end-to-end stuff in an entertaining match watched by a sizeable crowd of more than 70.
But once the visitors had made the breakthrough, they took complete control and coasted to a 4-1 victory that kept them four points clear at the top with a superb record so far this term of 11 league wins from 15 matches, and only one defeat.
Chances fell at both ends in the early stages, with tall striker Joe Butler shooting just wide for Linby and Sam Vickers sending a free-kick just off target for Belper.
Another opening fell to Butler, whose effort was well saved by visiting ‘keeper Lewis Bamford, and then Linby’s stand-in goalie, Glenn Guyatt, did well to deny Liam Oliver, who went clear for a one-on-one.
Linby threatened again when good work by their lively man-of-the-match Jack Millward engineered a chance for Ruban Mitchell, whose shot flew inches wide.
But it was Belper who bagged that vital first goal when awarded a penalty for a foul by home defender Will Spray. Up stepped Ben Stockley to successfully convert the spot-kick.
The strike opened the floodgates because, by the interval, the visitors were three goals to the good. On 42 minutes, Louis Mundin crossed for Shaun Roulston to flick the ball past Guyatt. And right on the stroke of half-time, a free-kick by Joe Congleton was swung into the area, where Guyatt misjudged the flight of the ball, which sailed straight into the net.
Things got even better for Belper in the early stages of the second period as they made it 4-0 in the 56th minute. This time, the ever-impressive Vickers crossed into the danger zone for Mundin, who netted from close range.
To their credit, Linby’s young side kept battling away and were rewarded with a consolation goal in the 70th minute when Butler hit a tremendous right-foot shot from an acute angle into the far corner of the net. Butler almost struck again ten minutes later when his drive from the edge of the box rattled a post, but nothing could prevent Belper running out convincing winners.