ALRESFORD lived up to their billing as a free-scoring team with frailties at the back as they swept aside Saltash in an end-to-end thriller on Saturday.
The Wessex League premier division side came out of the traps like a house on fire, scored twice in the opening 16 minutes and hit the woodwork twice. And after that they never really looked back.
They scored seven and might have had several more as their pass and move game left the Ashes, who have the second best defensive record in the Peninsula League premier division, chasing shadows around their own ground.
To be fair to Martin Burgess's Saltash side, despite the hammering they were getting, they didn't throw the towel in at any stage.
They scored two goals of their own and on another day might have ended with five or six themselves. It was that sort of cup tie.
But there was no argument afterwards about the deserved winners. Alresford were one or two classes above what Saltash normally face, especially in attack.
Warren Bentley was the name on the lips of the home contingent before a ball was kicked. He went into the game with 27 goals to his name already this season – and he didn't disappoint.
Although he scored only one goal, and that from the penalty spot, he was Alresford's star player, a nippy, intelligent, skilful striker who posed a threat whenever he had the ball at his feet.
He and his big bustling strike partner, Zach Glasspool, were an excellent combination. They gave an early indication of their strengths in the 12th minute when Glasspool held off a couple of challenges to send the ball into the path of an overlapping Bentley.
As Ashes keeper Tom Blackler raced out to close him down, Bentley sent a delightful chip over his head for what would have been a lovely goal, but the ball hit the underside of the bar and Toby Clark managed to head clear.
But within seconds the visitors had broken the deadlock through Mike McEnery and it was 2-0 three minutes later when Glasspool finished off from close range.
Bentley then crashed a shot against the bar as Saltash struggled to get hold of the ball.
But they were handed a lifeline in the 30th minute with a Ross Saint penalty after the excellent Sam Hughes had been hauled down and before half-time Kelvin Fyneboy and Toby Clark had chances to equalise. Sadly, that was as close as the game got because within 12 minutes of the restart left winger Dominic Cope had scored twice to make it 4-1.
Bentley's penalty and a goal from substitute Danny Strange, made by Bentley, extended the lead to 6-1 and although sub Jon Hoyles reduced the arrears nine minutes from time, Glasspool had the last word with Alresford's seventh three minutes later.
It was a hammering, there was no getting away from that. But sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and accept that you have come up against a far superior team.