Hat-tricks help seal play-offs

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Tooting and Mitcham United 1

Bury Town 7

by Derek Bish at Imperial Fields

JOHN Sands and Billy Clark scored hat-tricks as Bury Town emphatically secured their place in the Ryman Premier play-offs.

Despite posing a threat going forward, Tooting and Mitcham United were woeful at the back, with Kieran Leabon’s close-range header completing the rout.

Clark and Mark Coulson combined for the latter to cut the ball back to Sands, who teed himself up before volleying in an 18th-minute opener.

Marcus Garnham saved from Charlie Stimson at point-blank range with Tooting looking dangerous, but Leabon released Sands, who slammed his second goal into the top left corner just three minutes after netting his opener.

Jerome Walker rattled the bar for the home side seconds later before another long-range strike — this time by Hassan Ibrahim — flashed past Garnham into the Bury net.

But any thoughts of the match becoming a nervy one for the Blues were quickly dispelled as the visitors stretched their lead to 4-1 in double-quick time, with Clark on hand to tuck home a pair of rebounds after first Sands and then Clark himself had been denied by goalkeeper Kieran Campbell, the latter having his shot initially tipped on to the post.

Leabon had a fierce effort superbly cleared off the line before Sands’ treble was finished on the hour-mark with a cute chip over Campbell, much in the style of Lionel Messi’s brilliant strike against Arsenal in last season’s Champions League.

With Sands substituted, Clark took centre stage in the 72nd minute, converting a penalty for his hat-trick having been felled by Matt Drage.

Garnham was again called upon to make a tremendous save before the scoring was completed 10 minutes from time when Leabon diverted a close-range header beyond Campbell from Lee Smith’s whipped cross.

Bury: Garnham 8, Short 7, Coulson 7, Clark 9 (Nurse 73, 6), Nunn 7, Hipperson 7, Smith 7, SANDS 9 (Kearns 66, 7), S Reed 7, L Reed 7 (Hitching 82, 6), Leabon 7. Subs not used: Hall, Fenner.