Melton Town stole a march on their promotion rivals as they extended their unbeaten United Counties league run to 12 matches on Saturday.
Tom Manship’s side swept aside top-seven rivals Harrowby 4-0 at Signright park, a result which had added gloss as top two Long Buckby and Bugbrooke were both held to draws.
On a day in which only two of Division One’s top six won, Town closed to within four points of the top, with two games in hand.
And more importantly strengthened their promotion bid by going seven points clear of fifth-placed Blackstones.
Town supporters may have been worried as a gale-force wind welcomed both teams onto the pitch, with memories still fresh of their shock defeat to Whittlesey the last time Melton had played in such blustery conditions.
But the match was only a minute old when Melton took the lead and settled everyone’s nerves.
Leon Fray’s long ball over the defence found Duncan who drove into the area and passed to Zak Munton whose tap-in wrong-footed keeper Abebowale.
Chris Hibbitt’s header was deflected just past the upright from a Nathan Arnold free-kick, and soon after the two combined again in a carbon-copy set=piece with the unmarked midfielder’s sliding shot grazing the outside of the post.
Melton were playing with the wind and downhill which meant the ball spent most of the time in the visitors’ half as they struggled to clear.
A long diagonal ball picked out Jordan Lever who touched it on for Arnold to send a half-volley a whisker over the bar.
Abebowale tipped over Arnold’s 20-yard thunderbolt as Melton continued to dominate possession, and Harrowby were relieved to go in just one goal down at the break.
The visitors had their first spell of pressure at the start of the second half, but most of their attacks floundered on the wind.
And nine minutes in Munton struck again when Arnold ran at the defence and skipped past three tackles before slipping in Town’s leading scorer who chipped the keeper for 2-0.
Just after the hour the match was all but over when Lever flew past Thompson and sent a low cross into the six-yard box which Munton tapped in for a deserved hat-trick.
Harrowby’s first effort of any type came on the hour when a cross found Hales, but his glancing header went well wide of goal.
The same player had an effort from 20 yards which whistled just over the bar, while sub Cummings almost made it four when he was played in by Amponsem’s slip, but his shot from an acute angle was well saved.
With three minutes left a fast counter-attack saw Sandy turn Hales inside and out before playing in Cummings who made amends by planting the ball into the bottom corner.
It capped what was perhaps Melton’s best performance of the season so far against a well-drilled side looking for promotion themselves.
As Town move up a gear they host bottom side Lutterworth on Tuesday (ko 7.45pm) before second-bottom Northampton Sileby visit on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Town: Peet, Beaver, Benjamin, Hibbitt, Gilchrist, Fray, Lever (Sandy), Buccolosi, Munton (Harris), Duncan (Cummings), Arnold.