Ten-man Petersfield went three points clear at the top of the Wessex League premier division after powering past the challenge of third-placed Whitchurch with a magnificent 4-0 win at Love Lane last night.
The Rams broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when a well-worked move resulted in Ash Howes – who had come close moments earlier with a curling free-kick – deftly flicking his shot into the corner of the net.
Home keeper Matt Shortt was then called into action when a counter attack saw Tom Lockyer test his reflexes.
Whitchurch had their best opportunity of the half soon after when a cross from the left evaded the Rams’ defence, but as the ball rolled invitingly across the face of goal, an onrushing attacker was unable to nudge the ball over the line.
Petersfield then took hold in the closing stages of the first period, enjoying – and wasting – plenty of chances.
Firstly, Andy Todd headed wide from a corner, before Whitchurch goalkeeper Brad Snelling managed to push another shot wide of the post and Warren Hunt then sent his free header over the top.
The second half threatened a change in fortunes with the visitors in the ascendancy as Shortt again had to be at his best to deny Lockyer.
The game then took a controversial turn on 55 minutes, when Hunt chased down a back pass to Snelling.
The Rams striker appeared to get to the ball first but his momentum took him into the keeper and the referee deemed that it was a dangerous tackle and gave him his marching orders.
The sending off of Hunt only inspired the hosts, though, and they went 2-0 up on 70 minutes when Dan Woodward crossed for Danny Thompson, who converted at the second time of asking.
Incredibly, it was 3-0 five minutes later, when the lively Woodward picked up a loose ball in midfield and burst clear of his markers before smashing home a low shot from the edge of the area.
Title-chasing Petersfield then completed a sensational 12-minute period with a fourth and final goal when Todd kept his composure to round Snelling and fire into an empty net.
– GRAEME MOIR