As Boston United and Nottingham Forest walked out of the tunnel and onto the Jakemans Stadium turf all eyes were on Roger Riera, the Reds’ summer signing from Barcelona.
But as the full-time whistle blew it was Sancidino Silva who was being lauded as the Championship side’s golden boy.
A performance packed with pace, power and vision proved the difference as the former Benfica youngster scored once and made two as Forest ran out 4-1 victors.
After beating a youthful Norwich City side 3-1 and holding Aston Villa’s kids to a goalless draw, Forest were a step too far for a mix-and-match Pilgrims team
The two sides spent the opening 10 minutes sizing one another up before the first real chance of the evening fell to Forest’s Jorge Grant. But he rushed his effort and lashed high, wide and into the Town End.
The Reds came within a whisker of opening the scoring seconds later, but Derrick Otim - at full stretch - couldn’t quite get a toe to Jack Blake’s low drive across the face of goal.
An outstretched leg from United keeper Sam Vince kept the scores level when Tyler Walker - the son of Forest legend Des - outsprinted Conor Marshall, only to see his low effort well blocked.
It took 25 minutes for the Pilgrims to create any real threat on goal, partly due to resolute Forest defending and partly because the Pilgrims starting XI was a thrown together mixture of familiar faces, new signings and trialists.
And when they did get that first sniff Marshall was stretching too far to get any real direction on his header, following Jack Barlow’s free kick.
Barlow then saw a goalbound cross scrambled away from danger by keeper Ross Durrant before Forest showed the killer instinct to turn defence into attack.
From the resultant corner, the Reds burst up the other end and Grant handed his side a 28th-minute lead as he flicked a high-bouncing ball over the advancing Vince.
Charley Sanders was causing the Forest defence a few problems and when he clipped an effort over Durrant and into the danger zone it took a clearing header from Riera to avert danger.
Then came three efforts from Silva, each getting progressively better.
Effort number one was closer to the corner flag than than target. Number two was a swerving effort which forced Vince into a fine reaction save and number three was a simple tap-in to double the lead in the 45th minute - a goal which owed plenty to Otim’s pace and United’s inability to clear their lines.
The XI who kicked off the match for Boston were made up of substitutes who were late introductions to Saturday’s goalless draw.
But at the interval Dennis Greene began making the changes.
Scott Garner replaced Sanders in attack, Piergianni took over from Connor Smythe in defence and trialists Michael Hollingworth and Aaron Cole were given their chances as Blake Thompson and Carlos Djalo took early showers.
Dayle Southwell was handed a golden opportunity early in the second half, but as burst into the penalty area his effort was well saved by Durrant.
Forest then scored twice in two minutes to put the contest beyond Boston, with both efforts conjured up by the magic of Silva.
In the 55th minute he latched onto a stray pass from Marshall, used his pace to sprint into the penalty area and, after dragging Duran Reynolds away with him, teed up Jorge Grant with a clever reverse pass.
Grant kept his nerve to glide his effort through the legs of Vince.
Two minutes later it was four as Silva set Ilias Polimos free with a clever pass from midfield, the right back beating Vince at his near post.
Back came Boston, but Forest’s replacement keeper Aaron Myles pulled off an impressive reaction save to deny Kaine Felix’s dipper.
Riera then made a goalline clearance to deny Garner, after Myles had blocked his first effort. But from the resultant corner former Derby County man Stefan Galinski forced home a last-gasp consolation.
UNITED: Vince (Gledhill 62), Aujla (Galinski 62), Smythe (Piergianni HT), Thompson (Hollingworth HT), Marshall (Felix 62), Reynolds, Djalo (Cole HT), Hall (McGhee 62), Sanders (Garner HT), Southwell (Meadows 62), Barlow (Mills 62).
FOREST: Durrant (Myles 60), Polimos, Gutmy, Royo (Schoenecker 60), Riera, Asare, Silva, Grant (Demetriou 60), Walker (Gnahore 60), Blake, Otim (Todorov 60).
Ref: Darren Drysdale.