KARL Gibbs scored a second half hat trick on his St Ives Town United Counties League debut as Jez Hall and Warren Everdell’s team sent out a message to the rest of the division with a fantastic opening day 6-2 win at Desborough United.

Last season's top scorer Conor Washington picked up where he left off by scoring the first two goals as the Saints destroyed their much-fancied opponents, while Stuart Cobb also got on the scoresheet with a quality half volley.

Hall was delighted, saying: "It shows we have goals in us - there's nothing better than to see your strikers click in the first game. They were setting each other up. They were magic.

"If they can stay injury free we're in for a good season. Everybody played their part. We just clicked, there was a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half where we really came to life - our passing and movement was fabulous."

The Saints had to wait for half an hour before breaking the deadlock though, Washington slotting the ball underneath the Desborough goalkeeper after latching on to a ball from the back supplied by Dan Newman.

In the adsence of injured captain Lee Ellison, new boys Jon Stead and Jimmy Dean were again the Saints two central midfielders, and there were further chances for wingers Stuart Cobb and David Cobb - as well as Washington - before the 21-year-old found the net again two minutes into the second half with a carbon copy of his first half goal.

Former Peterborough Northern Star striker Gibbs, who scored three goals during St Ives' pre-season campaign, got his first in a competitive game from two yards when he headed home a clever cut pass back from Washington on 54 minutes. Stuart Cobb made it 4-0 with his half volley with Gibbs providing the pass on 63 minutes.

One minute later Gibbs muscled his way through the Desborough defence to score St Ives' fifth with a shot that curled into the far corner.

On 70 minutes Jamie Alsop broke down the left hand side and it was from the defender's cross that Gibbs netted his hat trick goal.

Jon Mitchell and Andy Gordon scored Desborough's two consolation goals late on as St Ives continued to press on tired legs.

Tonight (Tuesday) the Saints ware at home to Wellingborough Town. Another good UCL performance will see the team heading into Saturday's FA Cup preliminary round derby with Huntingdon Town at Jubilee Park in high spirits and full of confidence.

Even Scott Firlding returned to the fold last week after moving to Godmanchester Rovers during the summer but starting on the bench for the Eastern Counties League side's first three games.

St Ives: Niall Conroy-Owen, Jordan Lambert, Jamie Alsop, Dan Newman, Will Fordham, Jimmy Dean (Max Roberts), Jon Stead, David Cobb, Stuart Cobb (Scott Everdell), Conor Washington, Karl Gibbs (Scott Fielding).