A RUSSELL Brierley hat-trick saw Ramsbottom United mark their return to action in the NWCL First Division with a comfortable victory at lowly Leek.

The visitors made all the early running and it was no surprise when they went ahead after 15 minutes when Chris Willcock headed home a Steve Orrell cross.

And ten minutes later it was 2-0 as Brierley cashed in on a defensive error to open his account with a simple tap-in.

The struggling Staffordshire side hardly troubled the Rambsottom defence and were constantly pegged back as United went for a third which duly came two minutes before the break when Brierley got the final touch after a fierce Willcock shot had been blocked.

Leek surprisingly pulled one back five minutes into the second half when Neil Robinson's shot crept in at the far post but Ramsbottom restored their three-goal advantage when Brierley completed his hat-trick with an unstoppable 12-yard shot.

Brierley was then replaced by Mark Heyes who quickly got in on the act when he added the fifth with a shot into the roof of the net from a difficult angle.

Leek reduced the arrears 14 minutes from time as Rambsottom took their foot off the pedal but the visitors soon regained control as they completed a fully deserved win.