Jonny Margetts netted a first-half hat-trick as Boston United were downed 3-0 by Yellowbelly rivals Lincoln City.
This wasn’t your typical Pilgrims-Red Imps derby. There was no shirtless V-flick from Daryl Clare, no Howard Webb pulling the snarling Simon Weatherstone and Gary Fletcher apart.
Paul Gascoigne has more pressing things on his mind than setting up Jason Lee for a stoppage-time leveller, and with Scott Garner heading off to Halifax nobody showed much interest in wrestling with Matt Rhead.
In fact, this game was more about players getting minutes than excitement. This contest lacked goalmouth action, even by pre-season standards.
Red Imps trialist Margetts didn’t do his hopes of earning a contract any harm when he netted a first-half treble, although his third owed plenty to a miscued throw from United keeper Michael Emery, who has himself just penned a one-year deal with the club.
True to his word, Dennis Greene put out a side which will probably have little resemblance to the XI which will start the campaign at home against Stalybridge next month, giving his trialists their chances to shine before he begins the pre-season cull.
Pilgrims Jason St Juste, Nat Brown, Kalern Thomas and Christian Dibble were all rested due to minor niggles, the keeper being replaced by Emery in the warm-up.
This allowed Greene to hand starts to trialists Jake Williams, Liam Adams and Andrew Ofosu, while hopefuls Josh Green and Marcus Marshall started on the bench.
Lincoln’s starting XI included midfielder Elliot Hodge- once told thanks, but no thanks by Greene while on trial at the Jakemans Stadium - and former Pilgrims Paul Farman and Lee Beevers.
The Red Imps needed just nine minutes to open the scoring, Margetts heading into the unguarded net from almost on the goalline after Jamie McCombe had nodded Terry Hawkridge’s deep free kick back across the face of goal.
Three minutes later and Margetts doubled the advantage with a touch of class.
Hawkridge’s cross appeared to be too deep for the striker, only for him to adjust his body and find the top corner with a clever over-the-shoulder volley from 10 yards out.
The hat-trick was completed in the 44th minute from the penalty spot.
What appeared to be a routine throw out from Emery saw the wet ball spill out of his hand and into the path of Margetts, who got there just in front of Williams, only to be sent sprawling by the defender.
From 12 yards out he sent Emery the wrong way with a low, casual finish which may be enough to end his free agent status. If Lincoln don’t offer him a deal then maybe Greene would after that 45 minutes.
Boston didn’t show much going forward between those goals, the stand-out highlight being Cameron Johnson’s 25-yard effort which rattled Farman’s crossbar.
With Boston making six changes at the break and City offering all seven of their subs a run-out within the opening 15 minutes of the second half, the pace of the game slowed.
But it was the away side who continued to create the better chances, Emery tipping away Jack Muldoon’s strike and collecting Matt Rhead’s header while Williams got his body in the way of Alan Power’s goalbound effort.
UNITED: Emery, Williams (Lavelle-Moore 79), Wildin, Pepe-Ngoma, Maguire, Burgess (Rollins HT), Adams (Colley HT), Chippendale (Roberts HT), Ofosu (Marshall HT), Hilliard (Fairhurst HT), Johnson (Green HT).
LINCOLN: Farman (Walton 61), Wood, Howe, Hawkridge (O’Connor HT), Hodge (Miles HT), Beevers, McCombe (Power HT), Woodyard (Stanley 61), Higgins, Caton (Muldoon HT), Margetts (Rhead 61).
Ref: Josh Smith.
Att: 701 (247).