Away league match played on 04 September 2011.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

2 minutes extra time played.

NEW SIGNING Callum Wills bagged a second-half brace, as Ben Harris' new look Frolesworth side bravely battled back from 3-0 down at the break to salvage a precious point at the hands of newly-promoted FC Hoskins in a pulsating encounter at Mowmacre Hill on Sunday morning.

Tom Stokes gave the Rabbits a glimmer of hope on the hour mark after he converted from the penalty spot, before 17-year-old Wills pulled another back just seven minutes later and the comeback was complete just four minutes from time when Wills bundled home a richly-deserved leveller.

United were the better side for large spells in the opening period, but somehow found themselves three goals adrift at half-time after having been on the receiving end of some ruthless finishing from the hosts and both teams also hit the woodwork in what was an enthralling game of Alliance League football on the season's opening day.

Manager Harris had been busy in the transfer market over the summer and he handed debuts to four fresh faces in his starting XI, as the Rabbits once again continued their reputation for nurturing young talent.

17-year-old stopper Sam Green made his first start in goal, behind centre-half Harvey Morgan who partnered newly-named skipper Mark James. Sam Pratt made his first bow in the claret shirt on the right-hand side, meaning former Leicester City and Derby County front-man Wills partnered ex-Coventry City striker Joe Cook in a frightening front two for United.

It also meant that United would line up in the old-fashioned 4-4-2 formation, rather than the 4-2-3-1 which was employed persistently last season, as Harris and assistant Jordan Halford craved a much more attack-minded approach. 

But on a glistening and slick surface at Mowmacre Hill, the visitors began tentatively and struggled to get a foothold in the game, especially after a couple of injury setbacks early on. The Rabbits were forced to play with 10-men during the early exchanges, after Morgan returned to the sidelines to replace his shirt after his nostrils were left gushing with blood when he collided with a stray elbow.

Left-back Jack Rudman’s season had lasted barely 15 minutes, too, when he was forced to be withdrawn with a cracked ankle, which will seem him ruled out for up to two months. His cousin Max Hallam was thrown on in his place to make his United debut and he performed admirably alongside a new-look back-four.

It wasn’t long until the new season’s first flashpoint either, as just eight minutes into the encounter the sprightly Cook raced beyond the hosts defence and had his ankles clipped, only for referee John Farrell to award a free-kick on the edge of the box and amazingly not even give the offender a strict talking to.

Dominic Ivens, who returned to the club following a brief stint with American outfit Lincoln Land Loggers, stood over the dead ball, but his curling effort looped just the wrong side of the post.

United seemed to be enjoying much more freedom under their new formation and should have taken the lead when Wills, playing on the shoulder of the last man, beat the offside trap but astoundingly, he could only misfire weakly low to the keeper’s left.

It was a chance that his side would later rue, too, as the hosts took the lead largely against the run of play in the 25th minute. It looked as though United had initially dealt with the danger, but after the ball was moved out to the left both Martin Fennon and Pratt both failed to prevent the cross and Ashley Stone was unmarked to convert from close range.

Matters would be made even worse for Frolesworth just three minutes later though, as still reeling from the opener, Stone helped himself to a second with a sumptuous curling shot that was beyond Green’s grasp, after captain James’ heavy touch had eluded him and presented the home side with another chance.

It was a cruel blow for Harris’ young side, who now faced a huge test of character but they soon responded in the only way they knew how and Wills once again came desperately close as he blazed over from Ivens’ cute pass.

Ivens himself burst through soon after, but his attempted pass to Cook was somehow cut out when the latter looked destined to score and Wills was thwarted for a third time when his low drive was pushed around the post.

And incredibly, Frolesworth would trail by three goals at the break as Stone completed his hat-trick in the 39th minute with an outrageous lob over the onrushing Green after Morgan could only misjudge a long-ball, which skipped unpredictably off the surface.

It was proving to be one of those days for the visitors and teams of Frolesworth past would have been dead and buried by half-time, but not this one. Harris sent on Greg Garner in place of Pratt at the interval and told his players they were still in this game, and he was right.

The Country Boys went out in search of the next goal and they came agonizingly close again, when James’ long throw found the head of Ivens but his deft header looped back off the crossbar. Wills then sent a delightful ball across the face of the goal for the onrushing Cook, but the ball squirmed through his legs and fell to Stokes who took it round the defender and was scythed down.


It was the lucky break that United had been so desperately seeking and with half-an-hour still remaining on the clock Stokes confidently dusted himself down to coolly convert the spot-kick. 3-1.

It was truly breathtaking stuff, as the hosts repelled a bombardment of Frolesworth pressure. Right-back Fennon completely epitomised the team’s new-found attacking ethos and belief, gallivanting into the opposing half and feeding Cook, who’s attempted through ball took a kind deflection and fell into the path of Wills.

He wasn’t so forgiving this time and he smashed the ball into the far corner for 3-2 with over 20 minutes still to play. Game on.

Both sides were intent on attacking, with the game ebbing and flowing from one penalty box to the other and it was United’s turn to survive a scare 10 minutes from time when Stone’s terrific volley thumped the foot of the post, before Green earnt his stripes with a superb stop late on.

And that save would prove vital too, as with time running out, Ivens, who had been the hub of Frolesworth creativity throughout, sent a searching ball over the top for the tireless Wills, who capitalised on the opposing goalkeeper’s mis-kick and somehow bundled the ball home in the 86th minute to salvage a precious point and spark scenes of delirium on the touchline.

It was an astonishing display of togetherness and team spirit from the Rabbits, but typically they left themselves with a mountain to climb. With such attacking flair and technical ability now instilled in the side, Frolesworth will certainly win more than they lose on this evidence.

You just get the feeling at Dunley Way that this could be the most exciting season yet.




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