A CHRIS Jelly hat-trick condemned Frolesworth United to their second successive pre-season defeat at Dunley Way on Wednesday evening, as the Rabbits' preparations for the 2012/13 campaign continued to stutter.
Ben Harris' side had managed to keep Alliance League top scorer George Himan reasonably quiet last time out, but Lutterworth Town striker Jelly constantly tormented United's new-look back four and gave the hosts the lead on 23 minutes with a delightful lob.
He skipped past Harry Shervington to double his tally seven minutes before the break, before Tom Stokes dispatched a penalty to reduce the arrears on the stroke of half-time.
Jelly completed his hat-trick in the 71st minute, converting a loose ball in the box after more kamikaze defending from the Alliance League Premiership new boys, before Dominic Ivens marked his return by meeting Stokes' corner to head home.
But despite improving as the game went on, United couldn't find an equaliser to leave manager Harris with plenty of food for thought after another disappointing performance.
The Yorkeshireman made no changes to his back four, in spite of conceding four against FC Azzuri, although the injured Eddie Glaister and Jake Pantony made way for Nathan Bedford and Max Jones in midfield.
Jack Sutherland returned on the left-hand side wearing safari-printed boots, while Stokes replaced Garner who was suffering from an ankle injury and Callum Wills replaced Daniel Herring alongside Harry Simmons.
But despite Harris' attempt to inject some fresh impetus into his side, they were fortunate not to fall a goal behind early on when Craig Coombs was forced into a magnificent save when he back-pedalled to turn Jelly's long-range effort over.
It was a warning for Frolesworth, who once again were struggling to create anything of note going forward and with 23 minutes on the clock, Town deservedly took the lead.
Newly-appointed skipper Mark Baker was the guilty party on this occasion, after he gifted possession with a careless pass on the edge of his own box and with Coombs off his line, Jelly looked up and uted a perfectly-weighted lob over the stranded goalkeeper.
It wasn't the start Harris wanted and he decided to shuffle the pack early on, withdrawing Simmons for trialist George Lee as Sutherland, who had been United's brightest star, was moved into the lone-striker role with Wills on the left and Lee in the hole.
But it didn't have the desired effect and just seven minutes before the break, Jelly doubled his and his team's tally after he skipped by Shervington with a burst of raw pace before confidently dispatching past the advancing Coombs.
Frolesworth's best route back into the game appeared to be through Sutherland, but it was substitute Lee that gave the visitors a lifeline when he was felled in the box after latching onto a ball forward on the stroke of half-time.
Stokes, who had been quiet by his own admission so far, confidently stepped up from 12-yards though and drilled an unstoppable penalty into the top corner to register United's first strike of pre-season.
And the gifted right-winger would have been disappointed that he didn't level the scores almost immediately after the restart, when he met Sutherland's fizzing cross in the six-yard box but somehow, he contrived to blaze over the bar when it would have been easier to score.
And predictably, with Frolesworth now in the ascendancy following the introduction of Ivens and Josh van Allen, they fell further behind after they were caught cold on the break.
There was a suspicion of offside, as Lee, now at left-back, was caught ahead of play and Jelly was the grateful recipient after Coombs had pushed away a powerful drive.
Following the departure of last season's top goalscorer Joe Cook, Jelly was illustrating what Harris has been crying out for. A natural goalscorer.
But his side had improved after the restart and got themselves back into the game with just 12 minutes to play, when Stokes delivered a teasing corner on the near side and Filipino playmaker Ivens leapt highest to thump home United's second.
The Rabbits pushed for an equaliser, but with the exception of Simmons' blocked shot, they failed to conjure up another meaningful opportunity as they slipped to another disappointing defeat.
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