Gloucester City 3 Boston United 0
(Joe Parker 11, 81, Joe Hanks (pen) 23)
Boston United’s unbeaten start to the season was ended in miserable fashion.
A sloppy, disjointed performance saw too few Pilgrims perform to the standards set previously, while those given chances to stake a claim for a regular place failed to shine.
Yes, United weren’t at full strength, but that doesn’t excuse too many stray passes and fluffed lines as hosts Gloucester City claimed their first home win of the campaign.
Manager Craig Elliott had a selection crisis to figure out as the team travelled to Evesham, the Tigers’ temporary home.
With Jordan Thewlis and Jay Rollins suspended and Shaun Tuton, Jake Wright, Karl Byrne and Jonathan Wafula struggling with injuries, the manager brought in attacker Jordan Adebayo-Smith on loan from League One Lincoln City.
The 18-year-old was named on the bench as Nicky Walker, Ashley Jackson and Tom Clare were handed first starts of the National League North season, Andi Thanoj and Ben Middleton returning to the starting XI.
Alex Whittle, who suffered a groin pull during last weekend’s draw with Guiseley, recovered to make the team, pushed up to the left wing as Boston kicked off in a 4-4-2 formation, Brad Abbott missing out in midfield.
With just 87 seconds played an offside flag denied Dominic Knowles his first United goal as he prodded home Middleton’s cross in the sweltering heat.
And when Knowles set Walker free he could only drag his effort wide as the angle was against him.
Zak Kotwica tested Peter Crook with an early effort, cutting in from the left and firing a dipping drive that was well held by the Pilgrims number one while, at the other end, Knowles was inches away, nit that he knew much about it, as Vinny Harper’s clearance was smashed into the forward.
Parker gave the hosts an 11th-minute lead, latching on to a neat through ball from Fabien Robert, whose fast feet made space for himself in midfield as he skipped round Thanoj, slotting low beyond Crook.
Hanks doubled the advantage from the penalty spot, driving hard down the middle, after Vinny Harper went down in box after Middleton got too close.
Knowles thought he had reduced the arrears when he ran on to Tom Platt’s quick free kick, but a fine reaction save from Zach Jeacock saw him tip the powerful drive over.
The game was more even than the conversion rate and, as Gloucester tried their luck again, Crook tipped Luke Russe’s 20-yarder onto his post, an unmarked Parker nodding wide moments later.
An unhappy Elliott made three changes at half-time, George Green, Adebayo-Smith and Abbott replacing Whittle, Platt and Clare as the Pilgrims reverted to 4-3-3.
The Tigers should have added to their tally seconds after the restart as Crook came but misjudged a long free kick, Chris Knowles heading over the unguarded goal.
Green brought some urgency with his twists and turns, plus a couple of strikes wide of the mark, before Thanoj rattled the City post and Adebayo-Smith’s follow-up curled wide of the mark.
Walker dinked a hopeful effort over the bar while Parker reminded Crook he was still needed with a tricky, fizzing strike.
The game was put beyond United when parker slammed home his second of the day after Josh Thomas broke down the right.
The final touch of the match saw Simon Ainge’s heasder hit the City post.
Close, but not close enough.
GLOUCESTER: Jeacock, Thomas, Harper, Hamilton, Avery, Knowles (Smith 90), Parker (Spruce 82), Russe, Hanks, Kotwica, Robert (Hainault 66); Subs (not used): Richards, Smith, King.
UNITED: Crook, Middleton, Whittle (Green HT), Thanoj, Ainge, Shiels, Walker, Platt (Abbott HT), Clare (Adebayo-Smith HT), Knowles, Jackson; Subs (not used): Byrne, Willis.
REF: Daniel Locker.