Goal drought? What goal drought? Mark Jones proved that patience really is a virtue as he hit a hat-trick in Boston United’s 5-0 demolition of second-bottom Bradford Park Avenue.
After going 16 games without a goal on his return to the Jakemans Stadium, the forward is making up for lost time.
Manager Dennis Greene - in the away dug-out the last time Jones hit a treble for the Pilgrims - kept the faith with his on-loan forward, and Jones has more than repaid that show of trust by taking his tally to six goals in five games.
Dayle Southwell also had reason to celebrate after taking his season’s tally to 20, the target he set himself on his summer arrival.
United unveiled their blueprint for success on Thursday night as Southwell, Jones, Zak Mills and Grant Roberts all pledged their futures to the club.
And that quartet, along with their teammates, turned on the style today as United stretched their unbeaten home record to eight matches, against a side who had previoulsy won all four of their visits to Boston since the Pilgrims dropped out of the Football League.
Nicky Walker’s stoppage-time free kick also took United into fifth place, above Guiseley on goals scored, as well as ensuring that Boston have scored five goals in four of their last five home games.
Bradford began the contest in sluggish style, looking every bit a side who hadn’t played since January 11, due to a series of postponements.
United capitalised and Southwell came close to adding to his 19 goals early on, but two efforts were powerfully forced wide of the mark.
As the away side gradually found their stride Joel Dixon - whose loan spell from Sunderland concluded this afternoon - comfortably held on to Brad Barraclough’s close-range volley.
And when Chib Chilaka - United’s tormentor at the Jakemans Stadium over the past two seasons with both Bradford and Harrogate - rounded the young keeper, Zak Mills was on hand to shepherd the ball out of play.
Mills, who continues to play despite his foot injury, was lucky when his two-footed lunge in his own penalty area went unpunished.
But as referee Alf Greenwood waved away the Park venue protestations, the away side’s foothold in the game appeared to disappear.
As United, playing their second and final match without suspended captain Scott Garner, went in search of an opener Billy Priestley did well to divert Nicky Walker’s volley off target while John Danby got down quickly to palm away Southwell’s effort.
Jones, however, broke the deadlock with a moment of brilliance in the 34th minute.
Collecting the ball 20 yards from goal he dropped his shoulder to leave Chris Howarth languishing on the mud before giving Danby the eyes and drilling his low effort beyond the helpless stopper.
The Pilgrims doubled their advantage two minutes before the interval as Southwell smashed home.
Boston felt they should have had a penalty in the build-up to the goal as Jones was floored by Simon Ainge, but as play continued Nicky Walker won the ball back on the left flank.
As he crossed the ball into the box Kaine Felix’s initial shot was saved, before Southwell lapped up the loose ball.
The final play of the half saw United again go close, but Carl Piergianni’s header was tipped over the Bradford bar.
Park Avenue came out fired up after the break and Joel Dixon had to be alert to smother the ball at the feet of Chilaka.
With 56 minutes on the clock it was game over as Jones netted his second of the day.
A classic breakaway saw Kyle Dixon slip in Mills, whose composed square ball was finished off by the in-form forward.
From that moment, Boston’s confidence grew and the football became more free-flowing and confident.
Danby did well to save Felix’s near-post striker before denying the same player, this time aweaker effort from his weaker left foot.
Jones finally completed his hat-trick with 12 minutes left on the clock, driving into the roof of the net following Felix’s cross and Marc Newsham’s flick on.
In stoppage time Nicky Walker curled home a delightful 20-yard free kick to cap things off perfectly.
As the final whistle blew the Pilgrims maintained their record of being flat-track bullies in the Vanarama North, with only Harrogate from the bottom half taking three points from Greene’s side so far this campaign.
UNITED: J. Dixon, Marrs, Steer, Roberts (Hollingsworth 79), Mills, Piergianni, Felix, Dixon, Southwell (Newsham 63), Jones (McDonald 79), Walker; Subs (not used): Saebe, Vince.
BPA: Danby, Pursehouse, Priestley, Howarth, Ainge, Dean, Colbeck (Walker 63), King, Chilaka, Barraclough (Colley 63), Frost (Boothman 63); Subs (not used): Marshall, Qualter.
Ref: Alf Greenwood.
Att: 970 (29).