THE standards set by Witton Albion this season are such that Carl Macauley declared himself unhappy after watching his side put five goals past Leek.
Four of them were scored during a scintillating spell before the break.
However a sloppy second-half showing, during which the visitors threatened a comeback even after player-manager Ant Danylyk had been sent off, irked the former Marine boss.
Had it not been for a stunning save by goalkeeper Calvin Hare, who darted low to his left to claw out Chris Budrys’ goal-bound header at 4-2, then his mood might have been darker still.
“I’m upset and I’ve told the players as much,” he said.
“They’ve patted their goalkeeper on the back in the dressing room because they know how important that moment was in the game.
“That could easily have changed the game, and we’d have been under real pressure.”
It did not help that full-back Matty Devine, making his return as a substitute after tweaking a hamstring, suffered a recurrence of the same injury five minutes after coming on.
If that was sour, then Witton’s first-half display was sweet in contrast.
They swept aside Leek who, rather than being bad, could not cope with Albion’s slick passing and movement.
Rob Hopley fired in an opening goal after quarter of an hour after Will Jones slipped a cute assist into his path.
He turned scorer less than two minutes later, angling a first-time shot out of goalkeeper Ben Chapman’s reach from Tom Owen’s driven cut-back.
They did not stop there.
Jones caressed a third into the same corner, this time from the edge of the penalty area, after spinning away from his marker.
Owens ought to have made it four, but could not control his shot after Paul Williams dissected Leek’s back-line to find Hopley.
It was 4-0 after 37 minutes though, Williams’ shot from 35 yards arrowing into the corner with Chapman left to admire its trajectory along with everybody else in the ground.
Leek replied, Rob Stevenson making his own entry into the goal of the match competition when he bent the ball into the top corner after Niall Maguire had picked Owens’ pocket and launched a counter.
It gave the visitors hope, and they were buoyed when Hare parried Tim Grice’s shot at his near post early in the second period.
Jones fired high at the other end, then Danylyk was dismissed after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession.
The first, for dissent after Grice had a goal ruled out for offside, was followed by another for hauling back Prince Haywood to halt an Albion counter.
Leek rallied though, and Hare parried Grice’s fierce attempt before Scott Lycett blocked the front man’s follow-up.
Referee David Croft spotted Jones push an opponent from the corner that followed, and former Witton defender Darren Chadwick despatched the spot kick.
Hare’s heroics left Budrys head in hands in disbelief before Albion soothed any fears when substitute Karl Noon blasted in a fifth goal from Anthony Gardner’s unselfish assist at the end of a rapid breakaway.
Witton | 4-4-2 | Hare (GK), Gardner, Brown, Lycett, Wilson, Tames, Williams, Owens (Noon 68), Haywood, Hopley (Devine 68, Omotola 74), Jones Subs not used Hickman, Sloane Goals Hopley 15, Jones 16, 21, Williams 37, Noon 77
Leek | 4-4-2 | Chapman (GK), Smith, Francis, Chadwick, Morris, France, Danylyk, Maguire (Bott 82), Stevenson, Grice (Grimshaw 78), Budrys Subs not used Faulkner, Mullarkey, Donnelly Goals Stevenson 42, Chadwick 67 (penalty)
Referee David Croft