A sparkling AFC Rushden and Diamonds proved to be a cut above as they hit seven past Fleet Town to continue their winning start to the season.
A treble from Darryl Smith and goals from Nabil Shariff (two), Liam Dolman and returning fans’ favourite Claudiu Hoban sent the Diamonds to the top of the Evo Stik South East.
A consolation goal from the visitors meant the Diamonds didn’t keep a clean sheet for the first time this season but manager Andy Peaks was delighted with his side’s performance.
He said: “I’m delighted. We started really well and we probably could have been in front before we were in front, to be honest.
“We were pretty clinical and we scored four in a real quick spell in the game and it was won by then.
“The team talk at half time was make sure we win the second half, make sure we don’t get sloppy, make sure we don’t take liberties.
“Obviously I wanted to keep a clean sheet which we didn’t manage to do so that was disappointing but teams are going to score goals against us, I get that, but I can’t be disappointed really.”
The hosts came flying out of the traps at a sun-kissed Hayden Road and took the lead on the 20 minute mark.
A ball in to leading scorer Nabil Shariff saw him roll his man and stroke it into the corner, although Fleet goalkeeper Liam Beach probably should have done better.
Four minutes later the Diamonds doubled their lead as Shariff found the corner again after a neat ball by Ben Farrell.
At 2-0 they could have sat back but that was the last thing on their minds as they made it three after 26 minutes.
Callum Westwood dinked a ball to the far post and an unmarked Smith scored his first goal for the club with a looping header.
And then, just two minutes later, it was 4-0.
The superb Joel Gyasi beat two men down the right before a low ball found Smith, who fired into the roof of the net.
Fleet almost pulled one back when a lob from Danilo Cadete went agonisingly wide but on the stroke of half time, the Diamonds made it 5-0.
A clipped ball behind the defence saw the Fleet back four hesitate and Chief Boateng nipped in before being tripped by goalkeeper Beach for a penalty.
Skipper Liam Dolman stepped up and coolly slotted home.
Peaks, with one eye on Monday’s clash at AFC Kempston Rovers, took Dolman off at the break but just two minutes into the second half Smith had his hat trick.
Gyasi’s free-kick found the near post and the summer signing headed home with ease.
Gyasi did everything but score, with Beach pulling off a stunning point-blank range save to deny him from two yards out.
Fleet did grab a consolation when Bradley Wilson tapped into an empty net but Diamonds had the last say late on.
Shariff found space before pulling back for Hoban, who rejoined the club last night, to roll home for a 7-1 scoreline.
In truth, Fleet offered little defensively.
But you can only beat what’s put in front of you and AFC Diamonds made it look easy.
AFC Diamonds: Heath, Westwood, Brown, Dolman (Punter 45), Ford, Gyasi, Curtis, Farrell (Bell-Toxtle 62), Shariff, Boateng (Hoban 62), Smith
Goals: Shariff (20, 24), Smith (26, 28, 47), Dolman (43p), Hoban (73)
Fleet Town: Beach, Wales, Garstang (Smith 54), Dormer (Martin 68), Haydon, Musgrove, Efambe, Sowden, Wilson, Oshilaja, Cadete
Goals: Wilson (68)
Bookings: Beach, Dormer, Wales