**FROLESWORTH UNITED 1-4 KIRBY MUXLOE RANGERS**
A DRAMATIC late collapse from Frolesworth United meant that they suffered a thurd successive opening day defeat, after they suffered a 4-1 thumping at the hands of newly-promoted Kirby Muxloe at the Warren on Sunday morning.
Luke Evans had briefly hauled the Rabbits level midway through the second-half, but some abysmal defending from the hosts threw away what would have been a hard-earned point.
Ben Harris faced a paucity of attacking options, with Chris Bradshaw, Sam Young, Adam Laywood, Dan Morrow and Joe Cook all missing, adding further mileage to the rumour that the latter might be about to submit a transfer request at Hall Park.
Instead, Harris was forced to hand assistant manager Jordan Halford a premature starting berth up front alongside Evans, his first of which for over 12 months after suffering knee ligament damage.
The Clarets abandoned their newly-fangled 4-2-3-1 system, which they had used so insularly during pre-season and Harris thsi time opted for two up front and instructed his players to adopt a more direct approach.
And it appeared to work, initially, as it was Halford who had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock just before the half-hour mark. Both he and Evans breached the visitors’ offside trap, but after a decent first-touch the number 9 could only misfire weakly at the goalkeeper.
A goal on his return, surely too good to be true.
But his wry smile soon turned to an excruciating grimace soon thereafter and he was made to pay for his unruliness in front of goal almost immediately as Muxloe snatched the lead with the aid of a cruel deflection.
Although Lady Luck appeared not to be smiling down on them, Frolesworth again appeared invigorated after Harris’ words of wisdom at the break and it wasn’t long before the Country Boys squared things up.
Jake Pantony was given the freedom of the Warren to gallivant towards the opposing goal, and Evans greeted his inch-perfect through ball by elegantly prodding the ball over the advancing keeper for United’s first goal of the season.
Tails up and sensing blood, the Clarets began to grow in confidence and stature, but Frolesworth were to be ultimately let down by some further slack set-piece marking as Muxloe again nudged themselves ahead after substitute Joe Swanwick was beaten in the air.
In response, Miles Splevings raced down the right-hand side and drilled a superb ball low across the box, but another leveller agonisingly eluded the outstretched leg of Halford before Muxloe themselves hit Frolesworth with a smash-and-grab counter-attack from the ensuing corner and wrapped up the points with a third.
The game only had time to pause for thought moments from time, when a spectator collapsed at the side of the tunnel and had to receive treatment from paramedics. But United would wish the referee had called a halt to proceedings there and then, as they had two attempts to clear further danger and couldn’t, and the Division Two champions made them pay and hit a flattering fourth.
So the Rabbits begin the season with another opening day defeat and there couldn’t be a worse time for manager Harris to fly to Murcia with several of his key players. But there could possibly be no better time to face fellow strugglers Leicester Academicals at the Warren, under the lights on Friday evening.
FROLESWORTH: ERRINGTON, RUDMAN, BAKER, BOULTON, JAMES (45 FOR PELL), GARNER, PANTONY, BOTTOM (45 FOR SWANWICK) SPLEVINGS, EVANS, HALFORD (75 FOR FINNIGAN)
For Every Man A Religion.
Probably the most professional amateur football club in the world . . .