RILEY O’Sullivan scored a debut hat-trick as Stratford Town romped to a 6-1 opening day win against Needham Market to move top of the table.
O’Sullivan scored all three of his goals in the second half after a Callum Ebanks brace put the Bards in command at the break while Dan Lafferty completed the scoring at the Arden Garages Stadium.
The result means Stratford sit top of the Southern League Premier Central table on goal difference after one fixture.
Gavin Hurren’s side made the perfect start when Ebanks collected Paul McCone’s pass before turning his marker and firing home from an acute angle after just three minutes.
However, Needham equalised on 10 minutes when Reece Harris turned the ball home despite the best efforts of Bards goalkeeper Lewis O’Brien to keep the shot out.
Stratford reclaimed the lead from the penalty spot in first-half injury time as Ebanks scored his second goal of the game after O’Sullivan went down in the box under a challenge from Needham stopper Marcus Garnham.
The Bards extended their lead on 48 minutes when O’Sullivan won back possession and produced a delightful lob over the onrushing keeper.
And O’Sullivan doubled his tally for the game on 84 minutes when he smashed home after Charlie Dowd’s initial effort came back off the post.
The striker rounded off a stunning debut with his hat-trick goal on 87 minutes before Lafferty put the seal on an emphatic opening day win in the final minute of regulation time.
Stratford are next in action away at Barwell on Saturday, August 12 with kick-off at 3pm at Kirkby Road.