BROOKS TADLOCK hit a fine hat-trick as Helensburgh FC made it five wins in a row with a comprehensive 7-3 victory away to Strathclyde University on Saturday.

The teams were locked at 1-1 as they went into their half-time huddles – but Burgh blitzed their hosts with a burst of five goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half to secure another high-scoring win.

The match kicked off in testing conditions with the strong wind slightly assisting the students in the first half; Burgh started with one change to the eleven that had beaten league leaders FC Baillieston the previous week, Calum O’Brien returning between the sticks.

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The opening stages were fairly evenly contested, but it was the Burgh team that made the breakthrough just after the ten minute mark when a defensive clearance ricocheted to David Sinclair on the right hand side of the box.

His low centre was flicked goalwards by Tadlock and appeared to cross the line despite a desperate attempt by the keeper to keep the ball out; the referee’s decision was made easy when David Allan slammed home the loose ball, but it was Tadlock’s goal.

This jolted the home team into action and they worked themselves into the game over the next few minutes, retaining possession more effectively, though Burgh's back four held a high, firm line, making it hard for their hosts to break through and catching the Uni attackers offside on multiple occasions.

However, with half an hour on the clock Strathclyde levelled the game; a shot from 25 yards out was blocked just inside the penalty area by Burgh captain Danny Johns, and unfortunately for Helensburgh the ball fell to the home team’s centre forward who struck a low, first time shot into the corner of the net.

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Both teams had chances to take the lead before half time – Tadlock beat the keeper but saw his chipped shot just slip past the post, and then, just before the break, Strathclyde passed up a great chance when their right winger was sent in on goal but elected to pass instead of shooting, allowing Geraint Meader to get back and make an important tackle.

A goal apiece was an accurate reflection of the pattern of play over the first 45 and at this stage it looked like either team could go on to win.

But Helensburgh had other ideas, and the home side were left shell-shocked as the visitors upped the pace and found the net five times in quick succession to end the match as a contest.

Five minutes after the restart Johns scored a trademark back post header from a Del Park corner; then within a couple of minutes Burgh added a third when Allan slotted home from a Sinclair assist.

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The Burgh team now had the scent of blood in their nostrils and a fourth goal soon followed when a dinked pass from Dougie Black was expertly converted by Tadlock with a first time finish lofted over the advancing keeper.

The home team’s defence was further punished as Sinclair deservedly got his name on the scoresheet just after the hour mark, before Tadlock completed his hat-trick with another fine strike; Meader supplied the assist on this occasion, with the Burgh striker taking a couple of deft touches to turn his marker before dispatching a low strike into the corner from just outside the penalty box.

With a five goal advantage and the three points clearly in the bag, Burgh allowed a little complacency to creep into their game and conceded two sloppy, avoidable goals.

However they finished the game on the attack again, when Sinclair netted a seventh goal shortly before the ref’s final whistle, Allan returning the compliment from his earlier goal by setting his team-mate up for his second of the game.

The victory continues a winning run for Burgh which now stretches back to early December and began with a 2-1 win at home to the same Strathclyde University side who were so comprehensively beaten on Saturday; remarkably, Helensburgh's five wins since then have seen the local side score no fewer than 24 goals, while letting in 11 at the other end.

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Coach Russell Makeham said afterwards: “At half time it looked like the game could go either way but we were clinical with the chances that came our way early in the second half and had the game sewn up with over 20 minutes left.

"It was a good result in windy conditions that keeps our momentum going.”

Squad: Callum O’Brien, Geraint Meader, Daniel Johns, Steven Bailey, Stuart Bailey, David Sinclair, Del Park, Keith Thomas, David Allan, Dougie Black, Brooks Tadlock, Marc McNeil, Steven Martin, Ryan Jones.

* This Saturday, February 16, Helensburgh's thoughts turn away from the league table and to a second round tie in the Bobby Thompson Challenge Cup away to Hamilton's Woodhead AFC.