By Liam Chronnell
STUART Rudd fired FC United back to the top of the table in a 5-1 demolition of struggling Newcastle Town.
The Reds hitman struck a 26-minute hat-trick as the prolific breakaway club passed 100 goals for the season in front of 2,368 supporters at Gigg Lane.
And with title rivals Salford City slipping to a 3-1 defeat at Flixton, United once again went to the Division One summit.
United fell behind to Richard Minor's 12th-minute opener but were level a minute later when Rudd opened his account. The striker added a spectacular second and completed his hat-trick on 39 minutes, though not before Rory Patterson had grabbed the hosts third - their 100th goal of the season.
Rhodri Giggs' header completed the scoring with 17 minutes left.
Atherton LR recovered from an early set back to earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Squires Gate.
Rovers found themselves a goal down in the first minute but second-half goals from Kayed Copphill and Scott Barlow put the visitors in front before Gate equalised to leave both sides happy with the draw.
Atherton Collieries' home clash with Nantwich Town and Daisy Hill's game against Bootle at New Sirs in Division Two were both victims of the weather.