Melton Town sent out a message to their rivals as they went back to the top of the league with a deserved win over top-three rivals Lutterworth.
There was expectation on the shoulders of the hosts at Signright Park with both sides knowing a win would send them top of United Counties League Division One.
Town were also looking for a winning riposte to defeat in their FA Vase replay 10 days earlier, and used the extended break from action wisely to work on their game.
The work of the management team showed early on as Melton were at it straight from kick-off and took the lead within a minute.
Melton’s first corner was only partially cleared and the ball was sent back into the box where Sam Wilson headed in at the back post.
But straight from the restart, Lutterworth were awarded a free-kick which was sent into the box.
Alex Rhodes turned the defence and his shot drew a fine save from Peet, and from the resulting corner, Rapley headed just wide.
Peet’s goalkick sent Sam Thorpe clear, and his shot forced a great save from Faulkner.
Lutterworth again went close in the 10th minute when Josh Kind advanced down the right and crossed for Hunton whose 25-yard speculative shot brushed the outside of the post.
And the visitors did level from a move down the right when Barnes’ cross found Rhodes unmarked to head home from six yards.
Melton’s dominant display in midfield produced several chances to restore their lead midway through the half.
Rigby’s great cross found Hill unmarked, but his header was kept out by a great reflex save before Hill’s backheel teed up Reeve whose shot was pushed wide.
Athletic were always ready for the counter-attack with Riley and Rhodes forcing great saves from Peet.
But in the 34th minute the Lutterworth defence was breached again when Reeve’s shot from the edge of the box was parried out to Thorpe who hammered home the rebound.
Melton were well worth their lead and this was extended minutes later.
Reeve’s pace beat the defence, and the striker was crudely brought down as he checked to round the keeper. Parsons made no mistake with the resulting penalty.
Reeve started the second as he finished the first, pouncing on a Manship through ball and firing a shot in from the byline which had to be saved low by Faulkner.
But Athletic found their way back into the game once more when Reeney curled a free-kick round the wall and into the corner of the net.
Josh Hill almost made it 4-2 moments later, but his header was cleared off the line.
Melton’s stalwart defence held strong for the remaining 20 minutes as the visitors pressed for an equaliser.
Town could have sealed the points in the final minutes when Rigby’s skilful run ended with Price receiving the ball in the area. He turned and found Reeve unmarked on the penalty spot, but Town’s leading scorer slipped at the vital moment.
Melton were well worth their three points as they begin a run of three matches in eight days.
Tonight (Tuesday) they head to Ellistown in the County Cup (ko 7.30pm) and then face a league trip to bottom side Raunds on Saturday (ko 3pm).