Hurstpierpoint II maintained their unbeaten start to the season with an impressive 3-1 win in stormy conditions at AFC Ringmer.
Dan Powell’s eye-catching hat-trick sees Hurst sit two-points clear of Cuckfield Rangers Development at the top of MFL Division 8.
Ringmer, who were also undefeated heading into the top of the table encounter, slip down to fifth.
All the pre-match talk was of Storm Brian and whether the match would take place, but, once the referee decided it was game on, the gusty winds were pushed to one side by the visitors’ strong start.
Comfortable in possession and probing in the attacking third, Pops’ army carved out a number of opportunities through Ross, Powell, Tom C and Adam Cornwall, which they couldn’t quite capitalise on.
The hosts were struggling to get a foothold in the game, often looking for their pacy number 9 to get in behind, but any counter attacks were snuffed out by the back-four of captain Harry Blunnie, Bas, Alex W and debutant Max, who looked extremely assured in possession.
Near midway through the first-half and the visiting yellows deservedly went in front through a fantastic team goal and Powell’s first of the match.
Blunnie carried and played the ball into Dan whose pass to Tom C was then fed to Ross in the hole where he slid a lovely ball through to Powell who executed a pinpoint sidefoot finish low across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Confidence was flowing and Adam then had a chance to make it 2-0 when Dan Tyler’s through ball saw him in on goal, but the big-haired keeper made himself big and blocked with his feet.
Down the other end, Ringmer tried responding but were mainly limited to strikes from outside the box, all of which goalkeeper Dean Cornwall dealt more than efficiently with.
The second-half started in a similar pattern to the first, but this time it took Hurst just five minutes after kick-off to convert a chance.
After an extended piece of possession down the left hand side, Alex W drove forward and fired the ball into Powell who, with his first touch, spun his bamboozled marker before, from the angle, curling the ball into the opposite top corner for a goal worthy of winning any game.
The second goal combined with a couple of substitutions saw the hosts rally for the next 15 minutes, but except for an effort which struck the upright, every cross, shot or venture into the Hurst box was dealt with by the back-four, especially Bas and Max, both of whom made an array of blocks and interceptions.
Hurst’s solid foundation allowed the visitors to see out that period of pressure and kill the game as a contest by grabbing the third goal.
After another spell of possession, Bas clipped the ball over the top into the right channel where Powell shrugged off his marker and delicately clipped the ball over the onrushing keeper to complete a glorious hat-trick.
Ringmer did pull a goal back soon after with a low and powerful indirect free-kick inside the area when the referee adjudged Dean to have pounced on a deliberate back-pass.
But, with the minutes ticking down, it was Hurst who had the better chances to put more gloss on the scoreline, with Powell, Adam and Ross all spurning half chances.
Next week, table-toppers Hurstpierpoint travel to seventh-placed Crawley United.