Melton Town maintained their irresistible form as they geared up for a tough run of fixtures with a comfortable win over Birstall United on Saturday.
Town got the job done early and for the second game running were 3-0 up by half-time before ensuring they chalked up another clean sheet in the second half.
It was Melton’s fourth successive shut-out and their 12th in a 17-match unbeaten league run stretching way back to October 5.
Affected by suspensions and injuries, Birstall were a much-changed team from the one that held Melton to a two-all draw just a few weeks ago.
But Tom Manship’s side had to be wary of their big forward Jonathan Jackson Berarey and Town old boy Ashley Day.
The home side also made a couple of changes with centre-half rock Leon Fray out, as Sam Beaver moved into the middle, while Nathan Arnold filled in for him at full-back.
Straight from kick-off Melton attacked down the slope and twice went close, but keeper Freddie Young made a good double-save from Corey Bucalossi.
Day then hit trouble trying to build an attack and lost possession in the middle. Zak Munton received the ball and chipped the keeper, but the bar came to Birstall’s rescue.
Arnold then stole the ball and after a quick interchange with Jordan Lever, the winger put in a great cross for Scott Sandy to give Melton a 13th-minute lead.
The visitors looked to respond quickly and broke forward, but Cameron Gilchrist stole the ball from Day and burst through, slipping a pass out to Corey who stroked home a second on the half-hour mark.
Town were dominant and looked to have wrapped up the win 10 minutes later when the visitors once more lost possession under pressure from the hosts’ press.
Lever pounced and a slick one-two with Arnold led to Sandy grabbing his second.
From a rare attack, Birstall forced a corner, but keeper Rob Peet easily collected.
The second half Town carried on where the first had left off with Town forcing an early save before putting the rebound over the bar.
The hosts sat back, happy to ping the ball from side to side and drop it back to Peet to play out from the back.
Melton were coasting and made three quick substitutions to rest players, settling for what they had.
But this invited on Birstall who had their first effort on goal, 10 minutes into the half, but forward Max Brogan’s shot from outside of the area was comfortably saved by Peet.
Dion Potter did beat Peet midway through the half, but Nathan Benjamin’s excellent goal-line clearance denied the visitors the foothold of a first goal.
Both teams cancelled each other out, but the final chance fell to Day who burst through, but sent his effort past the left-hand post, much to the delight of the Pork Pie Army.
Birstall were much improved in the second half, but the game already looked beyond them by that point.
Melton remained in third after their ninth win in their last 10 outings, but with four to go up this season, hold a commanding 13-point cushion over fifth-placed Irchester.
They lie within five points of leaders Bugbrooke with two games in hand as they approach a crucial run of games.
On Saturday they head to second-placed Long Buckby (ko 3pm), the last team to beat Melton, and the following two Saturdays see home games with Irchester and then Bugbrooke.