Loan striker Craig Davies was delighted to be back on song with a second-half hat-trick in Preston North End’s six-goal thumping of Carlisle at Deepdale.
Davies’ treble came in a 26-minute burst, adding to earlier goals from Stuart Beavon, Alan Browne and Lee Holmes.
Bar a brief spell at the end of the first half in which Lee Madine pulled a goal back, the visitors had little answer to North End’s attacking play.
It was the first time that Davies – on loan from Bolton Wanderers – had taken home the match ball since his time at Barnsley.
Davies told the Evening Post: “I scored four in a game for Barnsley at Birmingham about 18 months ago.
“That day all the goals came in a 20-minute spell and my goals on Saturday were quite close together.
“I needed that because I think recently things haven’t really been going for me.
“This time it has gone for me and I’m delighted that we managed to win so well.”
Beavon and Browne put North End 2-0 up inside the first 20 minutes.
Madine made it 2-1 four minutes before the interval before the Lilywhites ran riot in the second half.
Holmes netted the third goal in the 48th minute, then Davies stepped up to the plate with his treble.
Looking back through his goals, the 28-year-old front man said: “The first one came after a good ball from Scott Laird from the left.
“Stuart Beavon let it run through to me and I made a good connection with my shot which the keeper got a hand to.
“Fortunately it came straight back at me and I just managed to to knee it and the ball went in.
“With the second, Josh Brownhill got slipped in and either tried to chip the keeper or was trying to pass it to me.
“Josh told me it was a pass, so I’m going to have to believe him! It was just behind me but I got my foot on the ball, kicked it into the ground and it bounced in.
“For the third, Kevin Davies flicked on a high ball which one of their defenders tried to clear.
“It hit him on the knee and looped up, and I managed to flick it past him.
“Then I was bearing down on goal and I just thought ‘I’m going to smash this’.
“It was a case of either the ball taking the keeper’s head off or it going in the net, and thankfully it went in.
“I’d like to dedicate the hat-trick to my nan who hasn’t been well recently.
“She has always inspired me and I went to see her in hospital last week, and I went back after the match.
“Overall, it was a great team performance from the lads, and apart from 10-15 minutes at the end of the first half, I thought that we were well on top.
“Very rarely are you going to dominate a game for the whole 90 minutes, the other team will always have a spell of pressure.”
Carlisle’s assistant boss Davie Irons admitted that his side’s display and hammering had come as a shock.
He said: “We came in at half-time really back in the game and had a really positive discussion.
“We thought with Preston comfortably in the play-offs that they might not be up for it if we got at them.
“Preston then played some good stuff, carved us open and scored some good goals.
“We really just did not see that performance coming.”