JOE COOK returned to the Frolesworth side to fire a perfect hat-trick inside just 32 minutes and clinch the Rabbits first ever win in the Alliance Premier Division on a glorious autumnal day at Gynsill Lane. The former Coventry City striker was in mercurial form after missing last week's defeat against Magna 73 Rangers, giving Ben Harris' side the lead after rounding the Glenfield keeper as early as the 16th minute.
The home side hit back just three minutes later courtesy of a well-worked set-piece routine, but the 22-year-old striker headed United back in front just shy of the half-hour mark. He saved the best till last though, bringing down Jake Pantony's delightful diagonal ball with his weaker foot before smashing it into the top corner just three minutes later. Miles Splevings added a fourth on his return to the fold, as United wrapped up the points following a wonderful first-half display.
The Country Boys made the trip to Glenfield after suffering a 5-2 reversal at the Meadows Sports Ground last week, although Yorkeshireman Harris welcomed back several familiar faces from the team that he guided to third place in Division One last year. Luke Evans retained his place in goal - and impressed throughout - while Daniel Herring and Jack Rudman returned alongside new recruits Andy Morris and Harry Shervington at the back.
This meant skipper Martin Fennon moved into midfield alongside Filipino playmaker Dom Ivens, who provided the perfect platform for Greg Garner, talisman Jake Pantony and the pacy Splevings to roam free and cause chaos amidst the Town back-line. Perhaps most crucially though, was the return of Cook who gave the visitors some much-needed potency and he broke the deadlock after just 16 minutes.
United had settled well, passing the ball well on a slick surface but it was a mistake from the home side that allowed the visitors to get their noses in front. Cook had been buzzing around on his own up front and he nipped in to steal possession deep inside the Glenfield half before calmly rounding the hosts' stopper to slide home his first of the campaign. The home side hadn't had a sniff in the opening 20 minutes, but frustratingly, the first thing Evans had to do was pick the ball out of his net.
Frolesworth's achilles heel has always been considered to be from set-pieces, but with the addition of Morris and Shervington United now have an ariel presence in defence. They would have been disappointed with the home side's equaliser though, although it was from a smart routine straight off the training ground. United were caught sleeping at the near post and the ball was drilled low and hard into the box before being neatly converted by Adam Parry to square things up.
United's lead lasted only three minutes, but just 10 minutes later they were back in front after a superb counter-attack. Splevings' pace was wreaking havoc with Town's left-back and he latched onto an incisive through-ball before sending a teasing cross to the far post, which Cook met with a powerful header. He was looking sharp and just minutes later, he completed his hat-trick with a goal that was worthy of the top-flight.
It was Pantony this time that supplied the ex-Coventry hitman, with an inch-perfect ball to the back-post which he brought down elegantly with his weaker foot before lashing into the top corner to complete the perfect hat-trick. It was a sensational return for Cook, but winger Splevings was also making his first bow of the season and he was not to be outdone and got his name on the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time when he was sent through by Ivens, before drilling into the far corner.
It was a pleasant change from this time seven days ago, when the Rabbits found themselves three goals down against Magna. Harris was left with a conundrum as to whether continue attacking in the second period, or instead, try and defend their three goal lead but he adopted the attack is the best form of defence policy and Cook was unfortunate not to add his fourth when he sprung the offside trap only to see his effort beaten away.
Glenfield had now pushed two up front, instead of one, as they chased the game and they were not without chances, but it was Ivens who really should have sewn up all three points when he was thwarted from close range after Cook's cut-back. And alarmingly, with 20 minutes still to play the home side got the goal their second-half performance had merited when Rudman was caught out by Luke Rowley before he beat Evans with a confident finish.
But in truth, the visitors were never in real danger of losing the game after the restart and second-half substitute Tom Stokes should also have added a fifth in the closing stages when he fired over from underneath the crossbar from Ivens' low cross. It was no more than the Rabbits deserved and manager Harris' only frustration will be that if he had this side available last week, then United would undoubtedly have disposed of Magna and be sitting towards the top with maximum points.
However, Frolesworth can only look forward and they welcome GT to Dunley Way next week for their first home game in the top-flight. If Harris can name an unchanged side and welcome back the likes of Callum Wills and Jack Sutherland, the Rabbits will stand a good chance of making it back-to-back wins.