Knaresborough Town 4-0 Lincoln Moorlands Railway
An under-par Knaresborough Town proved too strong for basement boys Lincoln Moorlands Railways in a complete non-contest at Manse Lane on Tuesday night.
Gary Collier put any first half nerves to bed with the opening goal on 21 minutes before doubling the lead with a sweet second ten minutes later.
Strike partner Brad Walker added a third in the second half before substitute Blaine Hobson completed the scoring from a free-kick.
The scoreline should have been harsher on Lincoln but Boro were wasteful in front of goal, with Collier and replacement Joel Freestone both guilty of missing straight-forward opportunities with the goal at their mercy.
Moorlands have had problems with availability all season and were off the pace throughout, despite having a few sights of goal in the second half.
‘Boro boss Paul Stansfield was forced into one change from the side which beat Teversal on Saturday with George Eustance thrust into the team in place of the injured Graham Whitehead.
The hosts could have gone in front in the first 60 seconds when Ben Parkes ran in behind the visitors’ defence but his cross went behind Saturday’s hat-trick hero Walker.
Eustance then rattled the bar with a vicious right-footed strike from distance but Boro were soon becoming frustrated at their lack of cutting edge against a side with only one win to their name this season.
Collier settled the anxiety with the opening goal as he headed Eustance’s centre through the attempts of a save by Moorlands goalkeeper Garry Doran.
The striker was then booked for dissent and Boro’s frustrations almost led to an equalising goal but WIll Lenehan was alert to the danger of Lee Croft running goalwards with a perfectly-timed block.
Eustance fired another shot wide before Collier scored his second with a clinical finish from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
The September signing should have completed a hat-trick moments later but he spooned a piece of excellent work by Eustance horribly over the bar.
Walker had been relatively quiet alongside Collier until he sent a shot wide after nicking the ball off a daydreaming Lincoln defender.
Boro will have been disappointed to only have two goals to their name at the interval and their lack of potency in front of goal was again at the fore in the second half.
Collier was denied by Doran within the first seconds of the second half before Moorlands’ best opportunity fell to Josh Schofield, only for the right winger to bend his shot wide of the post.
The match became disrupted by a spate of poor challenges, mainly by the visitors, and Boro remained in complete control with Jim Bradley and Ben Clayton enjoying the freedom to pick their passes in midfield.
The points were sealed by a horror error from Doran as he allowed a powerful but harmless shot from Walker to end up in the net. It had arrived from neat build up play between Walker and the ever-lively Eustance, who gave left-back Gavin Mackie an evening to forget.
Stansfield removed both goalscorers for Hobson and Joel Freestone on the hour mark, and both replacements were soon benefiting from tiring defenders.
Freestone lashed one effort wide before Hobson poked in Boro’s fourth at the front post from a Eustance free-kick.
Boro could have extended their goal difference further with swathes of attacks in the final 15 minutes, as Stansfield urged his men to go for the jugular against a club which has already conceded 130 goals this season.
But they were unable to add to their tally, with Freestone missing an open goal on the six-yard line from further excellent creativity by Eustance.
Knaresborough boss Paul Stansfield said: "It was just was one those nights. The pitch wasn't great. They weren't very good and we dropped our level which is natural.
"We couldn't get our passing game going. The positive is that we won 3-0, and it's another three points to keep the run going. That's about it.
We had explained before that they have a new side and hadn't played for a couple of weeks so could have got a few more player sin.
"We weren't taking it lightly. We just got it tactically wrong. Our two wide men and two strikers were trying to get in behind and we started forcing it a little bit too much.
"We did better in the second half and we could have scored ten."
Stansfield claimed the visitors were lucky to remain with a full compliment of players after a few robust challengers were landed.
The boss criticised the performance of referee Neil Munday, comparing his to a "school teacher".
Stansfield added: "I felt he reffed it like a school teacher would ref a game.
"He was looking after a team to stop them getting hammered.
"There were tackles out there that were sendings off and he just let them go.
"He protected them a bit, which is fine, but it's semi-pro football, it's not school football.
"You don't want to pick up injuries in games like this with bigger ones coming up, so that's always a concern."