CONNOR Baker’s second-half hat-trick inspired Droitwich Spa to an impressive win against AFC Bentley at Walshes Meadow – which extends their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
Baker was introduced as a first-half substitute and scored two quickfire goals in the second period before netting with the final touch of the game to secure a comfortable win for Andy Crowther’s side.
That came after first-half efforts from Perry Moss and Connor Collins sent Spa into break ahead despite Mario Mendez pulling a goal back for the visitors.
Victory for Droitwich means they remain undefeated in the West Midlands Regional League Division One this season ahead of a crunch clash with league leaders Gornal Athletic next weekend.
Droitwich started on the front foot when Collins sent a powerful effort just over the crossbar in the opening few minutes.
Spa captain Collins then tried his luck with a free-kick 25-yards from goal but once again failed to test the Bentley goalkeeper.
The home side went ahead when Haydn Morris played Luke Molloy in-behind the Bentley defence before seeing his effort pushed into the path of Moss who finished into an empty net.
Bentley responded with a chance of their own when Kevin Nickle took the ball past Matt Oliver in the Droitwich goal only for Lewis Phillips to superbly deflect the ball behind for a corner.
Droitwich then had keeper Oliver to thank for remaining in front when he made a stunning save to block Shaquille Lee’s effort onto the post when one-on-one.
And Spa made Bentley pay for that missed opportunity when Collins doubled their lead with a cool finish after being put through on goal by Moss’s chipped pass.
Crowther’s side searched for a third goal when Moss’s floated cross found Collins who beat his man but was denied by a fantastic fingertip save by Bentley keeper Luke Mauldridge.
The chances continued to flow Spa’s way when Morris was denied by Mauldridge before Moss sliced the follow-up wide.
Bentley halved the deficit against the run of play when Droitwich failed to deal with a long ball up-field which allowed Mendez to lob the ball over Oliver and into the net.
Despite that setback, Droitwich looked to kill the game off early in the second-half when Moss saw his effort well-saved by Mauldridge before heading over from the resulting corner.
The right winger then turned provider as he set-up two glorious chances for Collins only for the striker to miss the target on both occasions.
Bentley took the sting out of the game with some rough challenges before Molloy played-in substitute Baker who miscued his effort well wide of the target.
However, Baker did find the target minutes later when he volleyed home Collins’ ball in from the left into the bottom corner to restore Spa’s two-goal lead.
And he doubled his tally for the game shortly after when he combined with Collins again, tapping home a cross from the right to wrap up the points.
Baker should have completed his hat-trick in the final few minutes but somehow managed to shoot wide from a couple of yards from yet another Collins cross.
Spa almost added a fifth goal in injury-time only for Alex Dugmore’s header towards the bottom left corner to be expertly kept out by Mauldridge.
Although there was nothing the keeper could do from the resulting corner as Baker powered home a header from Molloy’s corner with the last touch of the game to complete his hat-trick.