Justin Bennett broke the 200-goal mark in style after his superb hat-trick sealed an emphatic 5-0 Vanarama Conference South victory for Gosport Borough at Weston-super-Mare.
The long-serving striker, who last season became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, took his tally to 201 with his treble and admitted that the milestone had been on his mind all summer.
Bennett said: ‘The last campaign, on a personal level, was about me breaking the goalscoring record.
‘Once I did that, the next focus was 200 goals. It’s been on my mind since the end of last season, but unfortunately we ran out of games, so I’ve had to wait.
‘Myself and Robbie Matthews have been giving each other targets, and I said at the start of the season that I’m aiming for 15 goals – now I’m already a third of the way there. I was over the moon to get a hat-trick. It was my first one at this level.’
Matt Paterson opened the scoring before Bennett latched on to Sam Pearce’s knock-down to make it 2-0 before half-time. Bennett then produced a cool lobbed finish from Steve Ramsey’s through ball to put Borough in total command.
Substititue Paco Saez curled home a fine finish to register his first goal for the club to make it 4-0. But it was fitting that Bennett should have the final say, slotting home from the penalty spot after a handball in the area in the closing minutes to complete the rout.
Boss Alex Pike was delighted to see his strike partnership firing on all cylinders and believes competition for places is playing a part.
‘It was a great result, both in terms of the scoreline and the performance,’ said Pike.
‘It’s good to see a good relationship developing between Paterson and Bennett.
‘I think they have been spurred on by the likes of Lee Wort sitting on the bench. Every player wants competition for places.
‘Five players I’ve got on the bench could probably get into any side in the division.
‘I just think that the squad has improved and you can measure that by what’s on my bench.’
The victory extended Gosport’s unbeaten start to the season but Pike remains cautious about the team’s ambitions.
He said: ‘The players know exactly what I expect of them and I’ve always said we have to take each game as it comes and keep our feet on the ground – then let’s see where that takes us.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Carter, Poate, Pearce, Forbes, Dunford (Saez, 72mins), Ramsey, Smith, Wooden, Bennett (Wort, 85mins), Paterson (Wilde, 72mins)