Nine Goals. Nine Points. Cloud Nine
Hertford Men's 1st team continued their excellent start to the season, seeing off Luton nine goals to nil at home on Saturday.
Archie Akers came in for the unavailable Greg Page up front and Max Capaldi returned in goal.
It didn't take long for Hertford to set their stall out for the game, working hard off the ball, attacking in numbers and playing with a fluency that the coaching staff had been asking for.
Darren Norman opened the scoring. Ben Van Rooyen received the ball on the left and weaved his way into the circle, pulling the back across the danger area, inexplicably finding its way through a number of players for Norman to meet it on the other side of the circle. With plenty of time Norman picked his spot, swung hard, and planted the ball in the top-left of the goal for his third of the season.
Norman doubled the advantage, and his own tally for the game, not long afterwards. van Rooyen causing trouble once more with his direct play, winning a short corner. A neat switched routine allowed Norman to deflect into the net.
Despite the early dominance, Hertford did have some defending to do, but Luton found Jamie O'Sullivan's close marshalling and Simon Halfacre's positioning hard to break down.
van Rooyen got on the scoresheet next to calm any nerves before half time. Akers scurried into the D to win a short corner, and although the routine didn't quite go to plan, van Rooyen was able to pick up the rebound and slot home into the far corner.
Whatever Luton's management team said to them at half time was undone in the first three minutes of the second period as Hertford added two more. Elliot Barling released Ian Dunnett down the left who rounded the last two defenders and crossed on his reverse stick. van Rooyen was waiting on the back post with a reverse stick sweep high into the net.
Barely a minute later, an almost carbon copy move made it 5-0. This time Akers running around the left hand side to pull back for van Rooyen to complete his hat trick.
Not to be outdone, Norman then got his third. After breaking down a Luton attack, Nick Downer took a quick free hit on the edge of his own circle, finding Norman, just inside the Luton half. Norman span his marker and ran through on goal, nonchalantly committing the net-minder and slotting into the bottom-right corner.
Despite the scoreline, Hertford remained determined to also protect their clean sheet. O'Sullivan 'accidentally' tripped Luton's forward when he was through on goal and was asked to sit on the sideline for 2 minutes for his troubles.
Luton couldn't capitalise on the man advantage, and their frustration started to turn to mistakes, and with Hertford in no mood for sympathy, the hosts continued to twist the knife. A lacklustre defensive free-hit gifted van Rooyen possession on the edge of the 23. Showing deft skill he lifted the ball and himself over the sliding goalie, finishing into an empty goal in a man-of-match performance.
It was eight before long. A sweeping passing move from right to left saw Downer find van Rooyen at the top of the circle, who set up the onrushing James Rollins who had time to take a touch and strike into the bottom corner to open his account for the season.
A ninth completed the rout with Norman driving in from the right flank and finding Downer on the edge of the D. Downer unleashed a vicious strike which was past the goalie before he could react, taking his season's tally to four.
Hertford don't expect to have things all their own way next week as they travel to Harpenden who have also started the season strongly with seven points from their first three games.
Hertford: Max Capaldi; Joseph Mari, Jamie O'Sullivan, Simon Halfacre, Elliot Barling; Ian Dunnett, Nick Downer, James Rollins; Ben Van Rooyen, Darren Norman, Archie Akers. Subs: Ben Tootell, Michael Branford.