Nick McCootie hat-trick secures FA Trophy progress for Paulton Rovers
MATCH REPORT: Bishop's Cleeve 1 Paulton Rovers 4
Nick McCootie’s hat-trick helped Paulton Rovers see off hosts Bishops Cleeve in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy, giving assistant manager Paul Milsom the perfect 40th birthday present.
Rovers set about their task quickly and, after Mike Perrott put a chance over the bar, McCootie opened his account in the fifth minute, racing on to a through ball from Ben Lacey. Cleeve keeper Jamie Moore tried to tackle the Paulton man just outside the penalty area but McCootie got to the ball first and it sailed into the net.
The hosts pressed but rarely tested Rovers keeper Kyle Phillip or the defence, in which Dean Evans had a solid game at left-back.
With Paulton pressing for a second it was no surprise that McCootie found the target again. Brandon Barnes intercepted a pass down the left wing, cut inside and slipped the ball to McCootie, who hit a hard low shot past a despairing Moore.
Cleeve, who had a number of players with experience at Cheltenham Town and students at Harpbury College, played some sharp passing movements and Joe Hanks looks an impressive find.
However, Paulton added to their lead three minutes into the second half when Barnes again won the ball on the left and his pinpoint cross found the head of McCootie to complete his hat-trick.
Cleeve should have pulled a goal back immediately when Phillips brought down Lorcan Sheenan but Hanks’ spot-kick was easily saved by the Paulton keeper.
Rovers then made certain of the victory on 57 minutes as Barnes’ corner was thumped home by Perrott.
Cleeve pulled one back after 66 minutes when a long ball from left-back Lewis Binns was not dealt with and substitute Louis Barnfather shot past Phillips.
The home side enjoyed a period of sustained pressure but Rovers also threatened on the break through James Billing and substitute Josh Klein-Davies as they comfortably saw out the win.
Man of the match: Nick McCootie.
Bishops Cleeve visit Winterfield Road for a league match on Tuesday (7.30pm).