Melton Town responded well to their disappointment of defeat at title rivals Anstey by putting five past top-eight opponents on Saturday.
With both of their rivals also recording comfortable wins, it’s as you were at the top of United Counties League Division One, with Town in third, three points behind Anstey and four adrift of leaders Lutterworth with four games left.
Melton made the long trip to Northamptonshire to play eighth-placed Irchester knowing only a win would do, and the match got off at a slow pace.
Town dominated the opening exchanges, but the only chance came when Punter headed just wide from Josh Hill’s cross.
Irchester had their first chance of the game after 13 minutes when Burge’s headed flick-on brushed the top of the bar.
Then midway through the half Melton got the breakthrough they deserved.
Haycock headed Hill’s great corner clear, but only to Wilson at the back of the box who smashed a shot between post and keeper for 1-0.
The score was doubled just three minutes later when Westwood lobbed a ball over the defence to put Reeve clear on goal.
Town’s leading scorer turned and lobbed the helpless Hamilton in goal.
It was three goals in seven minutes when Arnold beat Blanche out wide and sent in a low ball into the six-yard box where Reeve touched the ball past Hamilton.
Lovell nearly pulled one back when neat passing from the hosts found the striker unmarked in the box, but his rushed shot easily cleared the bar.
The second half began with the hosts trying to withstand heavy pressure.
Arnold’s free-kick had Hamilton saving low to his right and tipping the ball around the post.
Then 10 minutes into the second half the game was all but over.
Hill’s corner was volleyed by Arnold and blocked on the line, but Hill sent the rebound back into the box where Westwood rose highest to plant a header in the far corner of the net.
Reeve and Hammond were combining well and several moments of interplay between the two saw Hamilton make some great saves to deny Reeve a hat-trick.
The hosts made it 4-1 against the run of play when a diagonal cross was not cleared and fell to Burge who stabbed a shot which crawled over the line.
The four-goal lead was restored straight from kick-off when an Arnold free-kick was parried away by Hamilton and Reeve reacted first to slot his third hat-trick, and 36th goal, of the season.
Lovell hit the post from 20 yards and Reek, on his comeback, hit a 25-yard shot which thumped the crossbar.
With the game gone for the hosts, a number of two-footed tackles had firstly Brown shown a straight red card, and with the last kick of the match, Gordon was also sent off.
A great performance and good preparation for the club’s first Senior County Cup final on Tuesday and their title six-pointer next Saturday at Lutterworth.
Town: Peet, Westwood (Reek), Fray (Price), Punter, Wilson, Gilchrist, Hill, Reeve, Hammond, Arnold (Parsons), Lever.