A sensational hat-trick from Tanto Olaofe inspired County to a third straight victory in League Two, as the Hatters thrashed National League champions Wrexham at Edgeley Park.
In an electric first-half of football, County found themselves 3-0 up just past the 30-minute mark thanks to a well-taken brace from the brilliant Olaofe, and a sixth in as many games for red-hot Louie Barry, who finished the afternoon with two assists as well.
Tanto completed his hat-trick at the Cheadle End in the second half, whilst a late goal from substitute Paddy Madden rounded off a perfect afternoon for Dave Challinor’s side.
The County boss named one change to the side that won at MK Dons last weekend, and it was an enforced one as the match winner from that game, Nick Powell, missed out through injury. Salford City loanee Odin Bailey came in for his first start, playing on the left of a midfield four with Ryan Croasdale and Antoni Sarcevic in the middle, and Will Collar on the right.
County #1 Ben Hinchliffe started in goal behind that same back four of Macauley Southam-Hales, Fraser Horsfall, Ethan Pye and Ibou Touray. Oloafe and Barry led the line again, and were unplayable at times up against the visitors back three.
The visitors did pose a threat in the opening 15 minutes, in-form Elliot Lee combining well with Paul Mullin before firing down the throat of Hinchliffe.
County soon started to take control of proceedings though, and a brilliant ball out from Hinchliffe led to the breakthrough on 20 minutes. The County legend pinged a brilliant ball out to the right-hand side to release Will Collar, who drove into the Wrexham penalty area before drilling the ball across for Tanto to slide in and convert from close range.
Lift-off at Edgeley Park, and it should have been two a few moments later as Sarcevic delivered a brilliant ball to the back post for Olaofe, who saw his header bounce back off the post, with Bailey’s follow-up cleared off the line as Wrexham survived.
The let-off didn’t last long for the Welsh side – Tanto continued to press from the front at every opportunity, and when Tom O’Connor’s back pass was played behind Ben Tozer, the forward snuck in on the defender’s blind side, put him on his backside, and calmly slotted home a second.
County were rampant at this point, and within minutes were celebrating an unbelievable third – Barry, in such electric form, gliding past three challenges in the Wrexham penalty area before drilling it home, becoming the first County player to score in six successive EFL matches since Neil Matthews in 1991.
The away side were stunned, and the half came to a close with County in complete control, and heading for our joint-biggest ever win against the Red Dragons.
Half-Time: County 3-0 Wrexham AFC (Olaofe, 20′, 30′; Barry, 33′)
It took just five minutes of the second half for Tanto to complete the first Football League hat-trick of his career, and again it was the front two combining – a lovely flowing move down the left leading to Barry’s cut-back deflecting into the path of Tanto, who buried a header into the bottom corner before sliding in front of the Cheadle End.
With the game already lost Wrexham began to apply some pressure in the second half, Luke Young calling Hinchliffe into action from distance and James McClean seeing a shot turned wide at the near post.
Ryan Croasdale was in the right place to nod a Paul Mullin header off the line, before Lee rattled the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
The cherry on the icing of a very lovely cake came bang on 90 minutes, Barry dinking a lovely ball over the head of Aaron Hayden for captain Madden, who brought the ball down on his chest before firing home his first league goal of the season.
Edgeley Park was rocking like never before at the final whistle, with Olaofe rightly lapping up the applause as he left the pitch with the match ball – the first County player to score a Football League hat-trick since Carl Baker at Brighton & Hove Albion in 2009.
Full-Time: County 5-0 Wrexham AFC (Olaofe, 20′, 30′, 50′; Barry, 33′; Madden, 90′)
Team: (4-4-2): Hinchliffe; Southam-Hales; Horsfall; Pye (Pond, 78′); Touray; Collar; Sarcevic (Cotterill, 90′); Croasdale (C); Bailey (Wright, 71′); Olaofe (Madden, 78′); Barry (Richardson, 90′).
Attendance: 9,548 (896 away fans)
Photographer: Mike Petch