East Preston Football Club produced a five-star performance to all but secure their Southern Combination League Premier Division status on Saturday.
Cian Tilley was at the double, while Matt Searle, Daniel Huet and Jack Barnes all struck as EP cruised to an emphatic 5-1 triumph over second from bottom strugglers Eastbourne United at The Lashmar.
Victory took East Preston’s points tally to 34 from 30 league games this season and first-team coach Craig Stuart hailed the display.
He said: “‘It was a great team performance in a very important game.
“We have been creating chances in our previous games but not converting them but we were much more clinical.
“If we can maintain that performance level, we will be a match for anyone in this league.
“It was a fantastic first start of the season for Cian (Tilley), causing problems with his pace and power all game. Hopefully we can build on this and have a strong run to the end of the season.”
East Preston were on the front foot from the outset but were made to wait before taking a deserved lead. Luke Brodie’s pass sent Tilley clear and he slotted through the legs of Philip Hawkins.
EP were now in control, doubling their advantage eight seven minutes later. Jake Heryet’s corner was met by a bullet header from Searle, which found the net.
East Preston were in total command, adding a third a minute before the break. After some confusion in the Eastbourne United area, the ball fell kindly to frontman Huet who coolly slotted past Hawkins.
East Preston were slow out of the traps after the restart and made to pay the price.
Some sloppy defending allowed Ryan Simmons in to pull one back on 47 minutes.
East Preston were back in the ascendancy soon after, wrapping up the victory eight minutes from the end.
Tilley - making his first start since joining EP - reacted quickest and fired home a fourth for his team.
There was still time for Bob Paine’s side to add another. Midfielder Barnes’ superb free-kick found the top corner as East Preston completed a routine victory.
EAST PRESTON: Purkis; DaCosta, Lyne, Etherington, Beaney; Barnes, Searle; Heryet, Tilley, Brodie; Huet. Subs: Gilbertson (Searle, 76), Matthews (Brodie, 76), Josh Parazo (Heryet, 80), Donaldson, Lelliott.