It was a great day for Hillians on Saturday as they beat Alton 8-1 to record the biggest FA Cup win in their history.
Playing some excellent possession football on a lush surface improved by recent rain, they completely outplayed Combined Counties strugglers Alton.
But once again they were made to pay for not turning early superiority into more than a 1-0 lead and when the visitors equalised on the half hour, they briefly threatened a second.
But normal service was soon resumed and in the end it was a win that beat the previous FA Cup best of 7-0 at home to Banstead in 2007.
After two successive defeats, Hillians were soon on top of their game and with experienced new signing Joe Keehan coming in for his debut to deputise for the injured Stuart Tuck, there were no early problems at the back.
The first goal arrived after only five minutes when Paul Armstrong put in Pat Harding and when his shot was saved, Greg Luer was there to scramble home the rebound.
After that there were several chances for Luer and fellow youngster Curtis Gayler in particular but then sloppy play was punished as Alton equalised totally against the run of play. Keeper Alan Mansfield did well to thwart Kurt Greenaway from a one-on-one but the loose ball was expertly converted by Alton’s best attacker Josh Sapsed.
Hillians rocked briefly but nine minutes later restored their lead and then struck again a minute later to virtually put the tie to bed.
The second goal was superbly worked, with Armstrong again releasing Harding on the left and his low cross converted clinically and at speed by the onrushing Luer.
Almost immediately it was the Armstrong/Harding combination again as the former Albion midfielder sent Harding through the middle for a comfortable finish.
Full back Neil Watts quickly got the ball rolling after the break, stabbing home Gayler’s dangerous corner at the far post just three minutes in. Alton soon made a bold double change, even sacrificing their centre half and skipper Rikki Long, but Hill made it 5-1 on 61 minutes when Darren Budd released Harding for another simple finish.
Harding completed his hat-trick three minutes after that, stooping to head in another well taken Gayler corner and it was no suprprise when he was replaced by Max Millersoon afterwards.
Despite plenty of chances, Luer being unlucky not to complete his three-timer when hitting the bar and later adjudged offside, it looked like staying that way until the closing minutes when skipper Budd and sub Scott Kirkwood completed the rout.
The unselfish Luer set up Budd for a great finish and then Kirkwood atoned for missing a good chance only a minute after his arrival when he coolly lifted the ball over somewhat suspect visiting keeper Cathel Maclean.
Hillians: Mansfield; Watts, Keehan, Lake-Edwards, Fisk; Armstrong, Slaughter, Budd, Luer, Gayler; Harding. Subs: Miller (Harding, 66), Kirkwood (Slaughter, 66), Pointing (Lake-Edwards, 78). Middy Starman: Fine team effort.