Melton Foxes turned in a five-star performance to send title race favourites Whetstone packing on Sunday.
The Foxes’ superiority was such that had it not been for an outstanding performance by the visitors’ keeper it could have been double figures.
Whetstone looked a talented team in possession, but Melton were very sharp and went close after just six minutes when Alex Horobin’s powerful header was cleared from under the bar.
Foxes won another corner a minute later, and Horobin again met Ainge’s delivery to head the hosts in front.
Two more corners in quick succession piled on the pressure, but the visitors hit back and won a penalty when a quick breaks by their tricky right winger was halted by George Wilkinson’s foul.
The visitors’ captain struck the spot kick fiercely, but keeper Connor McNeight tipped it over.
Cameron Steans’ ferocious drive drew a brilliant save before Smith broke through but lost control as he shaped to shoot.
The Foxes went further ahead after half-an-hour when Ainge sent another precision corner for Adam Lauchlan to head powerfully down past the keeper and into the roof of the net.
Ten minutes later Smith was denied by the keeper, but Steans reacted first to sidefoot the rebound home for 3-0.
Melton were quickly into the attack after the break and Steans put Smith through, but his final shot was deflected wide by the keeper.
After 55 minutes Ainge supplied another pinpoint corner for Lauchlan who head goalwards. Smith forced another point-blank range save, but again Steans was on hand to blast home the rebound.
Horobin saw another header cleared off the line from Ainge’s corner and Bradley Carroll headed straight at the keeper from close range.
Smith’s terrific shot forced another superb save and was denied once more when put clear.
Little was seen of the visitors as an attacking force as Melton’s defence had time to join the attacks with full-back Chris Lovegrove having a fine game.
With seconds left Smith sent Ainge clear and the winger capped an outstanding game by coolly driving the ball past the advancing keeper.
Foxes: C. McNeight, C. Lovegrove, A. Lauchlan, G. Wilkinson, A. Kotarba, C. Ainge, A. Walker, A. Horobin, B. Carroll, C. Steans, S. Smith, J. Bates, H. Mayes.
* The Foxes travel to Loughborough Dynamo on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).