BARNES Gladman hat-trick inspired Frolesworth United to their seventh successive win at the hands of Division Three strugglers AFC Bees Knees on a miserable autumn morning at Mossdale Meadows and ensured the Rabbits' passage into round two of the EW Foster Cup in the process.
The energetic winger capitalised on a defensive error to slam home United's third inside the opening 20 minutes, before adding a sublime second 12 minutes later and he capped a magnificent man of the match display by scoring his third five minutes after the hour mark with a sensational header across goal that angled in off the inside of the post.
Captain Sam Young had given United an early lead after 11 minutes, before left-back Mark Baker helped himself to his second goal of the season with a powerful strike at the near post. Lone-striker Young grabbed his second shortly after the restart, but it was 16-year-old Jack Frake who would once again make the headlines as the youngster stepped off the bench to score his second goal in as many appearances 18 minutes from time to conclude a satisfying morning's work for the manager.
It was Frolesworth's first foray into the EW Foster Cup, having plied their trade in the top two division's throughout their five-year existance and Jordan Halford plumped to utilise the depth in his squad for the trip to Braunstone, making five changes from the side that dispatched of struggling Wigston United 9-3 a fortnight previous.
Luke Evans was replaced in goal by the versatile Andy Morris, while Miles Splevings and Steven Bottom came into the back four with captain Mark James injured. Chris Capell retained his place in midfield alongside Ben Hallam, who made his first start since returning to the club, while Cam Rhind was also given his first starting berth.
Dom Ivens dropped to the bench, where there was also a surprise inclusion for Martin Fennon who had been out of favour having missed United's four previous fixtures. But typically, United were soon on the front foot against the fourth tier strugglers and soon had the lead through skipper Young. Especial praise has gone to the former Enderby Town striker after his surprise return to the Rabbits and he got Frolesworth's charge to Holmes Park up and running after barely 10 minutes when he curled home a sumptuous effort from inside the box.
United soon doubled their advantage, too, this time through Baker who once again endeavoured to prowl up and down the channel and he struck his second of the campaign after neat work from Rhind. If there has been a criticism of Frolesworth this season, however, it is their inability to keep a clean sheet and following Gladman's first, this truism resurfaced as they were beaten by a routine punt forward that skipped through Harry Shervington and Bottom before Morris was left marooned some way off his line.
But oft after a concession, Halford's side cruise through the gears and just six minutes later they were punishing Bees Knees again as Gladman jinked his way through the home defence with an array of dazzling skills before slamming home an emphatic finish into the top corner. The interim boss was forced into a change four minutes before the break when Rhind's involvement came to a premature conclusion, while Fennon returned to the fray almost immediately after the restart at the expense of Baker but it would matter little as United continued in the same vein with Young completing his brace in the 48th minute.
But this time he would be outdone by Gladman, who desrvedly claimed the match ball with arguably the goal of the game just after the home side had scored their second. The young winger has struggled to find his rhythm since completing his switch to Kimcote Road, but there have been glimpses of his unquestionable ability and he illustrated why the interim boss has remained so faithful to him by heading home his third from an almost impossible angle on the byeline after Danny Knott's deep cross.
He was withdrawn shortly after for Frake, who hasdn't featured since his dramatic goal against CSKA Carnaby's in September, but Halford once again showcased the quality he has at his disposal as after a third concession from the Rabbits, the 16-year-old restored their four-goal cushion. The enthusiastic youngster has been champing at the bit since his first goal for the club and he is rapidly propelling himself towards cult hero status after stabbing home Young's cutback to notch his second in as many substitute appearances and ensure United's name was in the velvet bag for the last 16.
It will be considered a failure if United fail to reach Holmes Park in April and indeed, etch their name on the trophy to register their first piece of silverware since their formation in 2008 but after a barren slog in the Alliance League's top flight last season, it would certainly be the perfect tonic after enduring an arduous 12 months. However, the Rabbits return to their league campaign with the visit of New Parks Estate on Sunday, with former manager Ben Harris keen to maintain United's 100 per cent start.