Fans favourite Chib Chilaka scored within half an hour of his return to a Harrogate Town shirt as Simon Weaver’s men coasted past a spirited Knaresborough Town at Manse Lane on Tuesday night.
Chilaka found the ball at his feet from a 25th minute corner and reminded the Town faithful of his lethal talents with a cool finish.
Knaresborough had their chances too with Fraser Lancaster, Colin Heath and Gary Collier all nearing the target as both sides drastically changed personnel for the second half.
But the class and superior fitness of Harrogate showed and Dominic Knowles dispatched a penalty before trialist Jordan Robertson capped a lively display with a neat finish.
Robertson was one of four newcomers hoping to impress Weaver enough to secure a move to the National League promotion hopefuls and did himself no harm with a powerful display up front.
However, Weaver was impressed with the movement of all four of his frontmen including former FA Cup hero Chilaka, who led the line alongside John-Paul Pittman in the first half.
Knaresborough gave a strong sense that they will be major players in Northern Counties East League Division One next season with captain Will Lenehan a supreme figure in defence and former Leeds United player Seb Carole showing glimpses of his excellence on the ball.
Weaver lined Town up with a diamond formation of which Jack Emmett operated behind the striking duo and Andy Thanoj sprayed the ball around at the base.
Former Guiseley defender Simon Ainge started alongside Luke Shiels in defence with club captain, and Ainge’s former teammate, Danny Ellis appearing in the second period. In his place, Ben Parker captained the visitors.
Knaresborough welcomed Wetherby Athletic recruit Tom Hesketh into their midfield although the majority of Paul Stansfield’s squad were involved at Manse Lane last season.
Thanoj was the cog setting the pace for Harrogate in the first half and his corner brought a thumping header over the bar from Ainge.
Chilaka also unleashed a rasping drive straight at Jack Rushworth before Lancaster blazed over on the half volley when giving Peter Crook a first scare at the other end.
The first goal arrived from another Thanoj corner which Warren Burrell headed down and Chilaka, who rejoined Town from Bradford Park Avenue last month, placed home well from ten yards.
A second should have arrived soon after but Pittman headed wide from Joe Leesley’s centre on the left flank.
Jack Emmett was the only Town man to return for the second half while Stansfield also shuffled his pack with nine changes for the hosts.
It was Knaresborough who coped better with the changes and Collier sneaked in behind trialist Issac Assenso but his strike was brilliantly stopped by Lloyd Allinson, another of Town’s new faces.
Heath, a leaner presence than when he led Knaresborough to League Cup glory two years ago, then stooped low and managed to head over from six yards.
That was as good as it got for the hosts who conceded a penalty when Lloyd Kerry was dragged down and Knowles sent young keeper Josh Archer the wrong way.
The third was the best of the lot by some distance as Robertson, who featured for Alfreton Town last season but has had spells with Sheffield United and Southampton, twisted in the area and found the corner with the outside of his boot, clipping the post on its way in.
The dangerous trialist, a powerful figure, almost added a second close to the end but his clever flick from Louie Swain’s cross.