Elisha Wild's seventh league hat-trick of the season fired Albury Hotspurs to a 5-3 win over St Pats.
Wild struck three times in the space of 14 minutes as Hotspurs raced into a 4-0 half-time lead but they didn't have things all their own way as a much-improved St Pats fought back well and out-scored the title hopefuls 3-1 in the second half.
The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute and Wild did it in style, curling a shot in off the underside of the bar from wide left after St Pats failed to clear a corner.
Jess Thomas, having a fine game in midfield, deservedly got herself on the scoresheet six minutes later with a rocket from 20 yards which nestled in the bottom corner.
Wild then latched onto a perfectly-weighted Jess Briggs through-ball and cut inside before delivering a clinical finish, then followed up to complete her treble after Kaitlin Rennie had saved from Sian van Gastel.
But the visitors looked bright after the break and pulled a goal back when Isabella Tassell made ground down the right and lashed a shot into the roof of the net.
Keely Halloway quickly restored Spurs' four-goal cushion with a delightful strike from outside the box, but two goals from Claire Mahoney punished some slack defending and set a few Hotspurs nerves jangling in the closing stages.
"We knew this game was going to be much tougher than our first outing against St Pats but we had a really strong first 45 minutes," Hotspurs captain Briggs said.
"It wasn't our best in the second half but good that we held strong and finished the game off with a win."
Leaders Albury United beat Myrtleford 10-0 and Melrose lost 3-1 at home to Wangaratta.
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