**FROLESWORTH UNITED 1-4 CLEANSING SERVICES**
FROLESWORTH United suffered a crushing defeat in their first league game of 2010, leaving them flirting precariously with the division’s trapdoor.
Miles Splevings’ sixth goal of the season just after the hour couldn’t prove to be the catalyst in a Frolesworth revival, which means the Rabbits slip into the relegation zone for the first time this season.
Control of the team was relinquished to assistant manager Jordan Halford, who was left with a selection headache after several of his most influential players were absent without leave.
Adam Tester was forced to fill the void in-between the posts once again as both of United’s recognised goalkeepers were missing, with Martin Finnigan the only change in last week’s back four.
Fans’ favourite Craig Rowbottom returned to make his first start in the claret shirt and he was handed the armband after Joe Cook was inexplicably missing for the second time this season, leaving former Northampton Town front man Luke Hammond to lead the line on his debut.
The injured Halford and Joe Wilson were the only substitutes and the absence of Jack Sutherland and Greg Garner meant that the youthful Rabbits were without any attacking flair on the bench.
Frolesworth had been out of league action for over two months and found themselves facing an uphill battle after another slow start saw them concede inside the opening five minutes. Rowbottom found himself caught in possession and he was duly punished when visiting striker Dean Evans raced through to slot home at the near post.
The hosts then began to find their feet in the game and it was Hammond who was eager to make a lasting impression, as he flashed an effort just wide of the post before Jake Pantony drove straight at the keeper after a jinking run.
Halford would have been happy with his side’s response going into the break at half time, but his team talk was thrown out of the window when a freak incident meant his side would trail by two going into the dressing room.
Emergency keeper Tester fumbled a difficult cross from the right and he could only haul down the grateful striker before he tapped into the empty net. Tester was fortunate to escape with only a booking and he was powerless to prevent Darren Bradley from coolly slotting home the ensuing spot-kick.
Halford seemed to press the panic button at the break, altering his system to 4-3-3 with Splevings and Josh Peel joining the isolated Hammond up front, but his exposed midfield were immediately hit with a sucker punch after the restart.
Evans helped himself to his second, despite the best efforts of Jack Boulton who made a superb goal-line clearance, only for it to fall helplessly to the unmarked striker.
Halford then instructed his players to put all hands on the pump with half an hour to play and the long ball game, unacquainted with Frolesworth, seemed to cause the visitors problems.
United found a route back in to the game just after the hour mark, when the lively, young Splevings showed his potential with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque turn and shot into the far corner.
The strike certainly seemed to galvanise the hosts, and led by captain Rowbottom they started to put Services under the cosh, with Steven Bottom agonisingly close to pulling another back.
The tireless midfielder raced through on the left before sending an audacious lob over the stranded visiting keeper, but he somehow managed to turn the ball round the post.
Bottom went close again from the resulting corner, but he blazed over from close range when he really should have made it game on and Halford was left cursing his luck, when the visitors raced down the other end and Aiden McCabe smashed home to put the game firmly beyond United’s grasp.
The result leaves manager Ben Harris left to pick up the pieces, but with the possibility of the F.A re-instating the four-points they deducted from United, they may soon find themselves back out of the drop zone.
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