MIKE Brandon’s hat-trick was a highlight as 1874 Northwich reached the end of their pre-season preparations without suffering a defeat.

The front man, who scored 37 times last season, was clinical again as the home team improved their summer goals tally to 22 in an encouraging performance at Barton Stadium.

They trailed too when impressive front man Nelson Mota rolled in a loose ball spilled by goalkeeper James Fossdyke after he attempted to gather a cross from the left.

He sent a dipping shot narrowly over the crossbar soon afterwards.

Brandon claimed the first of his treble after 10 minutes, gleefully punishing a mistake by visiting custodian Chris Taylor after he had dropped Paul Connor’s corner at the striker’s feet.

The outcome was the same from the home team’s next attack, this time Brandon steering in a header from cross range after Ryan Stewart had supplied an assist.

A third followed on 35 minutes, this time when 1874’s marksman was left in space to connect with a Connor centre sent across the face of goal.

Rick Bailey fizzed an attempt past an upright as Ian Street’s side continued to attack.

The contest was closer after the interval, during which Northwich made eight changes and their guests almost as many.

One of the Reds’ substitutes, Tunde Owolabi, fluffed two simple chances in the space of seconds.

First he shot too high after Mota had escaped into space down the left, then slammed into the side netting from an acute angle after skipping around Fossdyke.

Instead the home team added to their advantage after 66 minutes, replacement David Short prodding home after Daley Woods’ swept assist reached him inside the penalty area.

Matt Woolley forced substitute goalkeeper Nick Culkin to save smartly to his right after Joel Igenoza had pulled back from the byline before FC United spurned another opportunity when Gideon Dosunmu sprinted clear only to fire wide with the goal at his mercy.

Karl Marginson’s the goal their second half effort merited with four minutes left when Owolabi’s drilled effort was fumbled in by Fossdyke.

1874 Fossdyke (GK), Mitchell (Trialist 46), Thomas (Broadhead 46), Farnworth, Aston (Duckworth 46), Connor (Woods 46), Woolley (Hamer 46), Bailey, Stewart (Abdullah 46), Brandon (Igenoza 46), Beadle (Short 46)

Referee Ian Hurdle

Attendance 453