A subdued performance from Phil Brown’s Lancaster City side meant there will be no repeat of last season’s Macron Stadium heroics in the LFA Trophy.
With injuries continuing to bite, the City boss chose to rest a number of players against what turned out to be a surprisingly useful and athletic Radcliffe Borough side.
With new investment, a new manager, and a new squad, Boro took advantage of a subpar Dolly Blues team who struggled to get going on a freezing, wet Tuesday night.
After a bright start from City, and an early free-kick from Adam Sumner stinging the palms of keeper Tadhg Ryan, the first half was completely devoid of chances and goal mouth action.
Lancaster had the majority of possession for the first 45 minutes, but Jordan Connerton was a frustrated and isolated lone striker in a blunt-looking attack.
The game-changing moment happened on the stroke of half-time as City conceded in the most disappointing fashion.
A long ball over the top was headed back towards Mike Hale by defender Josh Westwood, but without nearly enough power.
With striker Lassana Nalatche onrushing, Hale was caught in two minds to either clear the ball first time, or to wait and collect it in the box.
In the end, the keeper did neither, as his hesitation allowed Nalatche to nick the ball and pass into an empty net.
The second half started just as the first ended, with another poorly conceded goal that really ended the tie as a contest. Tricky winger Elliot Rokka was quickest to react, and latched onto a simple ball from deep through the backline.
Despite being in on goal at a tight angle, his eventual shot went between the legs of Hale and into the back of the net.
The majority of the second half was spent in the City half, as Lancaster struggled to make any meaningful attacking play and generally looked well out of sorts.
Phil Brown reacted with 20 minutes to go by bringing on Billy Akrigg, Jacob Gregory and Louis Mayers, with the trio making a notable impact on the game.
With extra bite up front and energy in midfield, the Dolly Blues finally started stringing some attacking moves together, and went close to getting back into the game with a number of chances.
Connerton had a chance one-on-one but produced a tame shot that was easily saved, whilst Craig Carney and Akrigg produced well-struck shots from distance that couldn’t beat Ryan
Jacob Gregory brought another great save out of Ryan with a fierce strike from the edge of the box, as the ball bounced under the keeper’s body but was cleared to safety.
City were caught on the counter late on as Liam Baldeh cut inside from the right and fired home from a tight angle to complete a 3-0 win.