**AFC HURRICANES 4-0 FROLESWORTH UNITED**
A YOUTHFUL Frolesworth United side suffered a demoralising and heavy defeat at the hands of bottom of the table AFC Hurricanes on Friday evening, meaning the Division One strugglers have to now completed the double over The Rabbits this season.
Four second-half goals, including two in the final minute, compounded manager Ben Harris’ misery after star-striker Joe Cook limped off after just 10 minutes with a recurring knee problem.
Pacy winger Miles Splevings came closest for the visitors, smashing the upright with an outrageous 30-yard volley after an hour with United trailing 1-0, but despite their endeavour Frolesworth’s first trip to Enderby Road would ultimately end fruitless.
The Clarets went in to the game off the back of a hard-fought 2-1 win over Horse after Jack Boulton’s stoppage time winner and Harris welcomed back several charges for the visit to Thurlaston.
Josh Peel made an astonishing return from Newcastle to deputise at left-back and make his first start in over a year in place of the injured Jack Rudman, Martin Finnigan and chairman Josh Baines, who were all unavailable.
Boulton, Mark James and Matt Pell completed the back-four, meaning captain Mark Baker was once again preferred in the holding midfield role alongside Eddie Glaister. Jack Sutherland returned on the left, with Splevings on the opposite flank and fellow youngster Tom Stokes was employed in the hole just behind lone-striker Cook.
Harris, however, was without the services of versatile defender Martin Fennon, striker Sam Young and talisman and top goalscorer Jake Pantony, who could only make the substitutes bench.
But after a bright start, the gaffer was forced into changing his attacking options replacing the injured Cook with Joe Swanwick, after the front-man suffered a recurrence of the knee injury, which kept him out of last Friday’s 3-0 home defeat against Sparta Moshdock.
However, the Rabbits continued undeterred and came close to opening the scoring through Sutherland. He picked the ball up and embarked on one of his trademark jinking runs, before firing a vicious long-range drive, which was well beaten away.
The hosts responded and were unfortunate not to break the deadlock after 20 minutes, when goalkeeper Luke Evans foiled the onrushing striker with an excellent block one-on-one.
Frolesworth knew they would have to defend well going into the break, especially against the slope and their approach was epitomised by right-back Pell, who firstly superbly headed away the danger against two opposing players at the far post and then was clattered after bravely winning another ariel challenge.
He even attempted to round his marker in his own half shortly after, knocking the ball one side and running the other, but the ball ran out of play close to the dugout and the amusement of the Frolesworth bench.
The collision obviously didn’t knock any sense into him.
But unfortunately, Harris or assistant Jordan Halford weren’t smiling for much longer as just after the restart and with everything going to plan, things began to go awry when the home side took a surprise lead.
United had thrown Boulton forward for a long-throw, but once the danger had been averted one simple long ball caught both James and Peel square and Evans was helpless as the ball was lifted over him and into the net.
Perhaps guilty of complacency early on in the second period, Harris decided to turn to his old charm to inject some life into the side as Pantony stripped himself from off the bench.
But it was from a less-likely source than United would threaten, as winger Splevings demonstrated the kind of technical ability that Pantony himself would usually conjure up. After a Frolesworth corner had been cleared to the edge of the box, Splevings sent an incredible dipping volley goalwards, but to his disbelief it cannoned back off the post and Stokes could only slash wide on the follow up.
Frolesworth would come agonisngly close again soon after and this time it was Swanwick who climbed highest, but he could only angle his header just the wrong side of the upright as it began to look like it would be one of those days for The Rabbits.
And with all hands to the pump, the game would be almost out of reach with 19 minutes to play as both Baker and Glaister were powerless to prevent Mitchell Conway from heading home a precious second goal.
Things would slowly unravel from there too, as in Harris’ desperation to find a way back into the game he once again threw Boulton up top, hoping for a repeat of his last-minute goals against Leicester Academicals and Horse.
But it wasn’t to be, as his pull-back fell just behind Glaister and then with just eight minutes remaining, Peel and Stokes made a complete hash of a promising indirect free-kick on the edge of the opposition box, which resulted in firstly Pantony mis-cuing and then Pell over-hitting his cross out for a goal kick.
Instead, the home side would add a flattering gloss on the scoreline with firstly another lob in the 89th minute, before Frolesworth completely capitulated from kick off and James’ slip and Evans’ fumble allowed Hurricanes to make it four and reignite their own ambitions of beating the drop.
And so the curse of weekday fixtures continue to haunt Frolesworth, as they remain without a win in five mid-week games, including four defeats on a Friday night. Thankfully they return to action in just two days on Sunday, albeit travelling to promotion-chasing Perrin Rangers.
FROLESWORTH: EVANS 5, PELL 7 (MOM), JAMES 5, BOULTON 6, PEEL 6, BAKER (c) 6, GLAISTER 6, SUTHERLAND 7, STOKES 6, SPLEVINGS 6, COOK 5. SUBS - SWANWICK 7, PANTONY 6.
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