NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: March Town produce six of the best after running riot in Thurlow Nunn League
PUBLISHED: 10:12 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 06 January 2020
Six of the best from March Town saw them climb ever closer towards the promotion places after a terrific display on Saturday.
A hat-trick from Craig Gillies alongside strikes by Toby Allen, Jack Saunders and Dylan Edge sealed a handsome 6-1 victory over a young Needham Market Reserves side in Thurlow Nunn League First Division North.
The gap between March and fourth-placed Norwich CBS is now just one point after the Hares' 13th league success of the season, with two games in hand over their nearest rivals.
A mostly dominant display from Brett Whaley's men was enjoyed by those in attendance at the GER, despite enduring some nervous moments in a competitive first-half before their attacking quality came to the fore.
It took just 10 minutes for the hosts to go in front, Gillies slotting home from the penalty spot after the lively Jack Saunders was hauled down.
After a comprehensive victory over the then league leaders in their previous outing, some may have thought March would take instant control against a team that's won just two away league games all season. This was not the case.
Having missed a glorious chance to equalise minutes beforehand, Jose Santa drew the visitors level after escaping the clutches of captain Gavin Cooke.
Santa and top scorer Callum Page looked quick to pounce on any defensive mishap their opponents would make, but perhaps too eager to break the offside trap that came to March's aid.
Arguably the changing point was Gillies' second on the stroke of half-time, turning and firing into the bottom corner having benefitted from tidy link-up play between Allen and midfielder Lewis Hilliard.
Hilliard signed for the Hares to help aid his recovery from injury after signing on a dual registration from Peterborough Sports, but judging from his elite performances so far, March will look to keep hold of him for as long as possible.
His touch, skill and crossing was on point, which proved beneficial as the hosts grew into the ascendancy not just overall, but in wide and central areas too.
Two goals in three second-half minutes left the visitors startled, Gillies heading home a Hilliard delivery before Allen's deflected effort from distance flew past helpless goalkeeper Owen Elsdon.
A Gillies treble was the perfect way to round off a memorable festive period after celebrating the birth of his son Noah, despite strike partner Jack Friend failing to score for the fifth consecutive game.
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The visitors kept working hard and were nearly rewarded after being denied a consolation off the line following a fine save from Charlie Congreve.
But more damage was to come, first through Saunders and then Dylan Edge's drilled shot moments before the end added the gloss on what was another comprehensive performance.
If March play to this standard and take as many chances as they create from hereon in, there may be no reason why they cannot reach the next level.
March: Charlie Congreve; Jamie Short, Gavin Cooke ©, Danny Emmington, Lewis Gibson (sub Josh Burrows, 66'), Lewis Hilliard, Jack Saunders, Dylan Edge, Jack Friend, Toby Allen (sub Brody Warren, 74'), Craig Gillies (sub Adam Rothery, 74').
Goals: March Town - Gillies (10', 41' and 49'), Allen (52'), Saunders (78'), Edge (90'+1).
Needham Market Reserves - Santa (18').
Man of the Match: Craig Gillies.
Referee: Mr Joseph Karram.