**FROLESWORTH UNITED 3-2 HORSE**
FROLESWORTH United put last week’s misery firmly behind them and ensured their name was in the velvet bag for the Arthur Moore Cup Quarter Final draw, despite having to survive a late scare against fellow Alliance League Division One outfit Horse.
Debutant Callum Riley and Jack Sutherland scored either side of captain Joe Cook’s 10th goal of the season and it proved to be enough for the Rabbits as they hopped past the post, despite being reduced to 10-men in the closing stages.
Assistant Manager Jordan Halford failed a fitness test ahead of a meeting with his knee specialist on Thursday, but he returned to the dugout after having missed last week’s drubbing due to reporting on the Championship fixture between Scunthorpe United and Coventry City at Glanford Park.
Manager Ben Harris appeared to have lost patience with his side and rang the changes in response to last week’s exit from the F.A Intermediate Cup, welcoming back no fewer than four players from the United States.
Illinois Cougars’ Mark Baker returned at the expense of Jack Rudman at left-back and Joshua van Allen came into the centre of defence alongside Mark James. His Lincoln Land Loggers’ team-mate Dominic Ivens returned in the centre of midfield wearing the number 10 jersey and former England Schoolboys international Riley was employed just behind lone-striker Cook.
Miles Splevings returned to the fray on the right, whilst Sutherland completed the five-man midfield on the left and it was the new-look hosts who started the brighter.
The tie was just two minutes old when Ivens attempted an outrageous lob from fully 40-yards, but his left-footed effort flew harmlessly wide of the upright. Frolesworth continued in the same vein throughout the half, however, and carved out numerous opportunities from there on.
Cook saw his shot well saved after seven minutes, before the sprightly Splevings on the right saw his low drive diverted around the post following excellent work from the front pair.
Midfield maestro Jake Pantony warmed the visiting keeper’s hands with a volley from the subsequent corner in the ninth minute and Baker then shook the crossbar with a mis-hit cross with his weaker right foot ten minutes later.
The midfield quartet were linking up well and Ivens and Riley combined to set free the onrushing Cook, but he just couldn’t gather the ball in his stride amidst the muddy pitch.
The Horse net bulged midway through the first half, but unfortunately for Frolesworth Splevings fired his effort the wrong side of the post after Riley’s effort had been turned away.
The Clarets couldn’t be repelled for much longer though, and they inevitably took the lead just three minutes later with a flowing counter attack. It was Splevings this time on defensive duty back in his own half, before he delivered a searching diagonal ball for Riley to chase and following a mix up between the visiting defenders, he sent an audacious chip over the scrambling goalkeeper.
United weren’t content with one, however, and they employed a rather more direct route to goal to double their advantage in the 27th minute. Goalkeeper Luke Evans launched a long kick forward towards Riley, who elegantly controlled the ball and threaded captain Cook through to clinically dispatch a landmark 10th goal of the campaign.
United were slow to start in the second period but they slotted a third on the hour mark largely against the run of play with a smash and grab break away.
It was Riley who again led the counter attack, he picked up the loose ball inside his own half and drove at the heart of the visiting defence before assessing his options and he plumped for Sutherland on the left, who lashed home what proved to be a decisive goal.
Harris introduced Martin Finnigan for Cook and Riley’s contribution was complete when Josh Baines replaced him with 20 minutes to play. Matt Pell traded places with Jack Boulton shortly after and he almost single-handedly pressed the self-destruct button five minutes from time.
He mis-timed a lunge inside the penalty box to concede a penalty and spoil Evans’ hopes of obtaining his first clean sheet, before sweeping away a cross from the right narrowly wide of the post as the whole of the Warren held its breath.
Horse rallied again and pulled another back after sloppy defending from a corner and then van Allen, who was superb throughout, put himself on the line and was harshly dismissed for hauling down the opposing striker as he looked for all his worth to bundle home an unscripted leveller deep into stoppage time.
But the hosts held on by the skin of their teeth to pick up their first win since defeating the same opposition in the league three weeks ago, and they head into Christmas having made steady progress under the management team of Harris and Halford.
For Every Man A Religion.
The People's Club.