LEI Brown’s hat-trick sent Highgate United on the road to a priceless 4-0 victory over bottom-side Dunkirk in the MFL Premier Division on Saturday.
Debutant Shay Palmer impressed at right wing-back having recently signed from Studley, capping off his efforts with a goal to further enhance Gate’s margin of victory.
The Gate looked in imperious form despite being their first league game since 22nd January at Lye Town, but the win relieves some pressure for Ashley Pulisciano and his squad.
Pulisciano spoke about the greater importance of the three points after the game, rather than the manner in which it was achieved, as his side go up a place into 15th.
The game opened rather flat, taking 38 minutes for a first attempt on goal to arrive when Brown flew a header goalwards that had to be tipped over the bar.
A minute later, Brown did find the net, after picking up Palmer’s pass, cutting the ball back inside before whipping the ball through the outstretched glove of Alex Smith and into the net.
Harry Wakefield almost levelled immediately when striking the woodwork with a header, but it would take until the 73rd minute for a second goal to arrive.
It would be worth the wait, as Brad Catlow’s punt downfield was controlled by Brown and spectacularly lobbed over the keeper from 20-yards out to double Gate’s advantage.
15 minutes later it was three when Brown’s cross eventually turned provider, after the goalkeeper spilled the ball into Palmer’s path to slot home.
Brown’s hat-trick was sealed in the final seconds of stoppage time – he hit the crossbar after chipping the ball goalwards from Isaac Jagroop’s pass, diverting home the rebound.
Elsewhere, Gate U21’s were unable to reach a second successive cup final after losing 2-0 away to Continental Star in the semi-final of the Midland Football League U21 Bowl.
Saturday will see Highgate host Quorn (3pm), before heading to Coventry United on Wednesday night (7:45pm) – whilst Gate will face either Rushall Olympic U21’s or Wellington Amateurs away in the next round of the JW Hunt Cup.