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Hat-trick hero Palmer fires Hawks to victory

Ollie Palmer, right, scored a hat-trick in the Hawks' 5-2 win against AFC Hornchurch

Ollie Palmer, right, scored a hat-trick in the Hawks' 5-2 win against AFC Hornchurch

 

Hat-trick hero Ollie Palmer ensured the Hawks returned to winning ways as they stormed to a 5-2 victory over AFC Hornchurch in the Blue Square Bet South.

Striker Palmer netted just before the interval and then twice late in the second half to ensure the Hawks’ first win of 2013.

Westleigh Park boss Lee Bradbury made three changes to the side who lost 3-2 against Eastbourne Borough on New Year’s Day.

Chris Arthur returned from suspension to replace the departed Tony Taggart, who has signed for Hampton & Richmond due to work commitments.

Eddie Hutchinson replaced Steve Ramsey in midfield and AFC Bournemouth loanee Dan Strugnell was drafted in for the injured Ryan Woodford in the centre of defence.

The home side made a busy start, with a series of attacks down the left flank.

Christian Nanetti picked out Arthur with a pin-point crossfield ball but the wide player over hit his cross into the Hornchurch penalty area.

On 10 minutes Sahr Kabba laid the ball back to Hutchinson who lifted his shot over the top from inside the area.

The Hawks took a deserved lead on 15 minutes, with Strugnell scoring his second goal in as many games.

Arthur delivered a free-kick from the left and Strugnell looped his header over Joe Woolley in the visitor’s goal from just inside the box.

The hosts had their tails up and soon afterwards Nanetti arrowed a fierce drive just over the top.

Nanetti was getting through a lot of work up and down the pitch and Arthur was a potent threat down the left with his surging runs.

In a rare Hornchurch attack, Andy Tomlinson fired a long-range effort over the bar.

When the Hawks extended their lead on 28 minutes it was no more than they deserved.

Kabba latched on to Arthur’s long ball forward, outpaced his marker, rounded the goalkeeper and rolled the ball towards goal.

The last defender still should have cleared but he somehow let the ball roll past his foot on its way into the net.

The Hawks remained in control for the rest of the half, with Hutchinson almost flicking another effort in at the near post.

Ollie Palmer virtually killed the Urchins off with a third goal on the stroke of half-time.

Strugnell played a long, low ball forward, Kabba threw a dummy and Palmer raced on to take the ball past the goalkeeper and fire in from an acute angle.

Palmer should have extend the Hawks’ lead two minutes into the second half but put the ball over an open goal from six yards out.

The Hawks coasted to victory despite a frenetic final 11 minutes that saw four goals go in.

On 79 minutes, Ed Harris diverted a Lewis Smith shot past goalkeeper Clark Masters and into his own net.

Almost immediately, however, the Hawks went up the other end and forced a corner.

When the ball was delivered from the right, Palmer restored the home side’s three-goal advantage with a deflected effort.

The visitors wouldn’t give up and soon afterwards Wayne Gray headed past Masters to give his side a faint glimmer of hope.

A minute from time, though, Palmer sealed the Hawks win, completing his hat-trick by firing in the rebound after Nanetti’s free-kick had been parried.

Hawks: Masters, Newton, Butler, Hutchinson, Harris, Strugnell, Nanetti, Ryan, Palmer, Kabba, Arthur Subs: Ramsey, Bailey, Jones, Hinshelwood, Whyte.

AFC Hornchurch: Woolley, Love, Bentley, Tomlinson, Styles, Noel, Eyong, Curley, McKenzie, Smith, Gray. Subs: Tuohy, May, Daniel, Glover, Fletcher.

Referee: Carl Brook (St Leonard’s, East Sussex).

 

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