Five-star Wick power past AFC Varndeanians

Josh Irish hit a hat-trick as Wick saw off AFC Varndeanians this afternoon. Picture by Derek Martin
Josh Irish hit a hat-trick as Wick saw off AFC Varndeanians this afternoon. Picture by Derek Martin

Josh Irish's hat-trick helped Wick Football Club record a third successive victory in all competitions this afternoon.

As well as Irish's treble, Ryan Barratt and Ashley Hawkes struck as Wick cruised to an emphatic 5-0 home Southern Combination League Division 1 triumph over AFC Varndeanians.

Since announcing the signing of former Premier League forward Marcus Bent, Lee Baldwin's side have won twice in the league and seen off division-higher Eastbourne Town in the Susses RUR Charity Cup over an eight-day period.

Bent is still to make his Wick debut while he awaits international clearance, but Baldwin has seen his team net 13 times and concede only two goals in three games after his signature was announced.

Wick boss Baldwin was pleased with the authority his side showed in their latest success - particularly after a hard-fought win over division-higher Eastbourne Town just four days previous.

He said: "It's been a mad week or so but it was back to realisation with this league game. It could have gone one or two ways after such a good win coming in to the match - you can be flying or you could be complacent.

"I don't think we were complacent, we were a bit flat at times in the first half, but improved in the second and it could well have been six or seven in the end.

"We put so much in to Tuesday and maybe that was why we were a little flat early doors. Once we got the third it killed the game, which saw us go through the gears after that goal."

Wick were a goal ahead after 13 minutes through centre-half Barratt. Andy Weir's free-kick was flicked on by Irish and Barratt was hand to poke past Tom Bradford in Varndeanians' goal.

The home side then extended their lead 21 minutes later. Weir's superb cross-field pass picked out Mepham, he then fired a cross in for Irish to slot home his first.

Varndeanians spurned a great chance to pull a goal back on the hour. Rickie Mitchell's pass sent James Waters racing clear but Keelan Belcher was out quickly to smother his shot.

Irish struck his second with a superb first-time finish from the edge of the area 20 minutes from time to open the floodgates.

The frontman completed his hat-trick six minutes later, heading home Weir's corner to make it four.

There was still time for another, which came courtesy of Hawkes three minutes from the end. Bradford could only parry an Irish strike and Hawkes fired home the rebound.

Wick welcome Seaford Town to Crabtree Park for a league encounter next Saturday.

WICK: Belcher; Eyres, Barratt, Northeast, Cox; Weir, Connolly; Hawkes, Mepham, Ebling; Irish. Subs: Bunker (Cox, 66), Ediker (Ebling, 66), Hendrick (Northeast, 84), Baldwin, Lampton.