UTTOXETER TOWN 6 CONGLETON ATHLETIC 0
UTTOXETER Town booked their place in the next round of the Leek Cup with a comprehensive victory over Congleton Athletic at Oldfields.
Town kept faith with 10 of the players who had produced an indifferent display the week before at Leek Town, the only change seeing Chris Richards replace Luke Ede at left back.
The opening exchanges were fairly scrappy with neither side stamping their authority on the match.
A thunderous drive by Lee Bagley that was helped round the post was the only shot of note in the opening 20 minutes.
With the half-hour mark approaching, Town had the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Bagley’s flick found his onrushing strike partner Tommy Smith, who nicked the ball past the advancing Athletic keeper before being hauled to the ground.
The referee pointed to the spot and after failures from the penalty spot so many times this season, it was goalkeeper Alex Langridge who stepped up for the spotkick.
But Town again failed to hit the target as the ball soared over the crossbar.
It was a blow for the hosts who had slowly began to work their way into the match after a unconvincing opening third.
But the game swung in their favour five minutes later.
Jason Beardsley delivered an inch perfect set-piece from 50 yards to the head of skipper Martin Gadsby and the midfielder picked his spot and headed clinically into the far corner.
The second 45 minutes saw the hosts really start to take the game to the visitors and when Gadsby headed in his second just before the hour it was effectively game over.
Rob Collins and Kyle Esplin worked a short corner before finding Smith at the back post, and the front man cushioned his header back across goal where Gadsby was on hand to nod home his fourth of the campaign.
Town were now buzzing and Jack Holley continued his fine scoring form less than five minutes later.
Gadsby worked the ball inside for Collins, who delivered a fine ball from the left that Holley smashed home from 12 yards.
With a three-goal cushion and the back four looking as solid as they have all season, Congleton began to look like a beaten side after competing well.
Uttoxeter’s fourth came on 75 minutes and Gadsby completed his hat-trick with another header, this time planting Richards’ superb centre into the far corner from 12 yards.
The only surprise was the absence of the prolific Smith and Bagley on the scoresheet as the last 10 minutes neared but both strikers soon made amends with fantastic finishes.
Smith latched on to a loose ball in the right channel before smashing home brilliantly from a tight angle before Bagley completed the rout with a superb solo goal on 86 minutes.
Evading two challenges, he powered home a fine finish from the edge of the box.
The icing on the cake nearly arrived in injury time when substitute Jon Lamburn hit a thunderous drive that was well held by the Athletic number one.
It was an excellent second half from the hosts who kept a clean sheet for only the second time this season, with centre back pairing Paddy Farrelley and Mark Thompson beginning to forge a good understanding in defence.
Town return to league action ont Saturday with a trip to Wolstanton United, kick-off 2.30pm, looking to close the gap on Staffs County Senior League Division One leaders Hilton Harriers.
GOALS: Gadsby 35, 58, 72; Holley 63; Smith 81; Bagley 86.
UTTOXETER TOWN: Langridge, Beardsley, Richards, Thompson (Ward 81), Farrelley, Holley (Lamburn 75), Gadsby, Esplin, Collins (Harvey 79), Smith, Bagley. Subs not used: Jenkins, Metcalfe, Ede.
DOVE ACCOUNTANTS MAN OF THE MATCH: Martin Gadsby