BIRTHDAY boy Luke Holness celebrated by scoring a hat-trick in Braintree Town's 3-0 win at Hemel Hempstead Town, writes DAVID WARD.

Holness who set up the Iron for their first National League South win of the season.

The 23-year-old was full of praise for the help from his team-mates in scoring two first-half goals in the 10th and 16th minutes followed up by a third on 62 minutes.

They crucially gave the Iron some breathing space, as the home side looked set for a second-half revival.

With regular striker Femi Akinwande suspended it gave Holness his first start for the Iron in a competitive game and quickly repaid manager Ryan Maxwell's trust.

He said: "I can't believe it - it's my first ever hat-trick playing in senior football.

"I'm thrilled to bits to score my first ever hat-trick because I've never played at this level and it's a big challenge for me.

"I felt confident on each of the three occasions when the ball came to me and I knew I could score.

"What's more important though is the three points from the game which I felt we controlled well and really played some good football and it's also the benefit for all the players from all the hard work we've put into our training sessions.

"Hopefully I can now build on this great start and score more for the team."

Manager Maxwell was delighted for the youngster adding: "He took his chances really well and although he's still learning at this level he's already shown what he's capable of at Conference football."

Holness's first goal came when he broke clear and fired in a terrific hard shot that glanced off a defender's boot and dropped high into the net over the head of home keeper Nick Hayes.

Six minutes later it was Gianni Crichlow, who had an outstanding game on the wing for the Iron, who set him up skipping down the right wing before pulling the ball back for Holness to fire high into the net at the near post.

With the Iron well in control throughout it did take an excellent first half save from keeper Preston Edwards to keep the Iron with a clean sheet.

And then late in the game, it was Edwards again who pulled off two fine saves to deny a rejuvenated home side a goal.

Holness completed his deserved hat-trick on 62 minutes when another well worked move down the right saw him glide the ball home from close range.

Braintree Town: Edwards; Ikbuasi, Porter, Clements, Pennell; Payne, Krasniqi (86 Renee), Johnson, Davidson; Holness (79 Afrane-Kesey), Crichlow (69 Ainsworth). Unused subs: Balogun, Hope.