A blistering attacking display saw County bounce back to winning ways in style, as four first-half goals set The Hatters en route to a 5-0 win over ten-man Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening.
Following full-back Tyrone Williams’ dismissal for a professional foul on Harry Cardwell inside the box, The Hatters blew their hosts away in a five-star display – with Simon Rusk’s side erasing all trace of a previously poor record at Solihull down the years on an excellent night for County.
Rusk made four changes from the side which started in Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 defeat at Weymouth, with Jordan Keane, Lois Maynard, John Rooney returning to the side in place of Ash Palmer, Will Collar and Elliot Newby.
Newby’s fellow Chorley loanee Harry Cardwell earned his first start up top for The Hatters, as the Scotsman replaced Sam Dalby in attack to complete the line-up.
Solihull had proven an unhappy hunting ground The Hatters in recent years before Tuesday night, but after a fairly even start at the SportNation.bet Stadium, County took the lead and set off on the path to three points via the returning Rooney.
Left-back Jordan Cranston conceded possession to Alex Reid on halfway, with Reid instantly looking for strike partner Cardwell – and with Cardwell in on goal, right-back Tyrone Williams had to bring the forward down, with a penalty awarded and Williams dismissed.
Rooney slotted the resulting spot-kick straight down the middle to put County in front, before things got even better for Rusk’s men just two minutes later.
A sloppy ball at the back by Moors stopper Ryan Boot gave possession to Ryan Croasdale in the final third – Croasdale calmly teed up Rooney, who curled a delightful low strike past Boot for County’s second and his 16th of a blistering campaign.
Solihull boss Jimmy Shan turned to drastic measures, as he made a double substitution immediately after the second, with former Hatter Jamie Ward amongst those to depart for the ten men.
But the change failed to stem the tide for the home side, with Reid notching up his second assist of the season as he rolled infield for Cardwell to cap his first start by firing low underneath Boot for The Hatters’ third.
Remarkably, the fourth came inside the opening half hour as a pinpoint Sam Minihan cross found opposite wing-back Tom Walker to nod low past Boot for the Harrogate loanee’s first since returning to County last month.
The shellshocked hosts did make it into the interval without any further damage to the scoreline, although the superb Rooney came incredibly close to securing a hattrick just after the restart when he skipped inside his man on the halfway line and fired an incredibly effort agonisingly over the crossbar.
The Hatters, naturally, did continue to enjoy the lion’s share of possession having done the damage in the first half, with Cardwell almost adding a fifth when he nudged Tom Walker’s corner inches wide of the far post on the hour mark.
New boy Jack Stretton entered the fray for his debut after joining on loan from Derby County this week, and the young striker got his Hatters career off to a dream start when he latched onto fellow sub Elliot Newby’s deflected effort and flicked low underneath a helpless Boot for County’s fifth.
Richie Bennett made a cameo appearance late on, but Rusk’s side had to settle for the five already on the board as County returned to winning ways in memorable fashion.
County line-up (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Hogan ©, Keane, J. Jennings; Croasdale, Maynard; Walker, Rooney (Newby, 75) Reid (Bennett, 80); Cardwell (Stretton, 69).
Unused subs: Barnes, Collar.