LEE Bassett was Eynesbury Rovers’ hat-trick hero at a wet and windy Alfred Memorial Ground on Saturday where his side beat phoenix club AFC Rushden & Diamonds to leapfrog them into third place.

Ex-St Neots Town defender Chris Hope led the new Rushden team out with a crowd of near-on 500 at the ground for the first ever match between the two sides, but it was the improving Eynesbury who dominated the game with joint-manager Martin Field delighted with his players' attitude.

"The difference was our work ethic," said Field, who paired up with Matt Plumb after leaving Biggleswade Town during the summer. "And we were clinical in front of goal," he added.

"Everything is going fine - we're happy."

Eynesbury are perhaps surprising a few UCL watchers. They weren't really considered a threat at the start of the season but the management duo has worked hard to gel a squad which has some talented players in it. The young wingers Aaron Greene and Ben Colmer were excellent on Saturday and on his day Bassett is one of the best strikers in the division. That's why both Huntingdon Town and Godmanchester Rovers were linked with a move for him in the close season.

"Lee's very effective," said Field. "But he needs a little bit of an arm around him. But I was very impressed on Saturday. And when I dropped him out to the left late on because Ben Colmer had tired, he was tackling back and defending and doing a lot of running for the team.

"We have goals all over. I was disappointed when we went out of the FA Vase at Ely City because I thought we should have won that game - so I have challenged the team and they are responding."

It took Eynesbury just 10 minutes to silence the visiting fans, Bassett heading home James Freshwater's cross for 1-0 lead in the pouring rain.

Bassett's second came in the 56th minute when he fired home a James Ducket cross from close range - and his third was a sublime lob over the top of Rushden goalkeeper Quincy Shorumnu.

That goal was a relief for the home fans as Rushden had made it 2-1 with Jake Newman glancing home a header from a corner.

A Colmer effort was cleared off the line in the final stages but the ball popped out to David Fisk, playing his 400th game for the club, and Tom Coles - who scored a hat-trick in their 3-0 defeat of Bourne Town the previous Tuesday evening - headed home his whipped in cross.

The result puts Rovers three points behind leaders Sileby Rangers, who've played a game more.

So are there thoughts of promotion yet? "We are taking each game as it comes," Field said. "We are only eight games into the season."

Game number nine is at Wellingborough Whitworth on Saturday.

Eynesbury: Andrew Wale, David Fisk, James Ducket, Barry Albone, Darren Woodend, Tom Coles, Ben Colmer (Nick Finney), James Freshwater (Ryan Inskip), Ben Cole (Luke Swain), Lee Bassett, Aaron Greene.