**FROLESWORTH UNITED 4-2 NIFFY RANGERS**
MILES Splevings returned to fine goal-scoring form on Sunday morning to fire the Rabbits to their first win of the season against fellow strugglers Niffy Rangers at the Warren.
The striker-cum-winger notched his first league goals since February to send Frolesworth on their way after nine minutes, before wrapping up the points with a delicate lob eight minutes from time.
Manager Ben Harris returned from Murcia and failed to discipline those players that missed last week’s 6-1 thumping against White Lion and made no fewer than a staggering eight changes in an almost entire overhaul of his side.
Mark James, skipper Craig Rowbottom and Miles Splevings were the only players to survive the chop, and Luke Evans returned to keep goal. Mark Baker, Jack Rudman and Jake Pantony also returned from Spain, while Jack Boulton made the rather shorter journey back from Norfolk.
Dan Morrow returned from representing the county, while Greg Garner was employed behind Chris Bradshaw after the pair completed their recovery from injury as United lined up in the favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
And it was the home side who began much the brighter, which culminated in Splevings giving his side the lead inside the opening 10 minutes. Rowbottom managed to stab the ball forward and Bradhsaw’s superb hold-up play enabled Garner to send an inch-perfect pass inside the opposing left-back for the pacy Splevings to latch onto.
He took just one touch, before lashing the ball home with a venomous strike at the near post. It was the first time this season that Frolesworth had struck the first blow, but it seemed to throw United off course as the visitors began to edge their way back into the contest and the lead lasted just five minutes.
Three static United defenders watched as Rangers crossed into the box and Rudman was the unfortunate party as he inadvertently sent the ball past the helpless Evans and into his own net off the foot of the post.
But the Country Boys would not be deterred and Garner went close soon after. Bradshaw and Splevings this time combined, but Garner could only misfire downwards and the rebound spiraled agonisingly away from Morrow at the back post.
But Frolesworth’s luck wouldn’t be out for much longer as from the ensuing corner they regained the initiative. Morrow’s quick thinking meant he found Pantony in space from a short corner, and he dinked the ball to the far post to enable Bradshaw to head home his first goal of the campaign.
Frolesworth were becoming unusually threatening from set-pieces and they scored again from another Morrow corner just after the half-hour. He launched a cross towards the far post himself this time and it was perfectly measured for Garner to ute a side-footed volley with aplomb.
There was still time for Bradshaw to showcase his talents again before the break though, as he swiveled from Splevings’ quick throw to unleash a thunderous strike, which flew past the post.
But not to be outdone by his team-mate, Rowbottom, still on a high after scoring his first goal for the club last week, attempted to steal the headlines but for what would have been all the wrong reasons as he sold Boulton short with a hospital pass.
However, keeper Evans, who had been kept quiet up until now, raced off his line to foil the onrushing striker and spare his skipper’s blushes going into the break.
United had a gilt-edged chance to seal the points on the hour mark, when youngsters Morrow, Garner and Splevings all breached the offside trap, but the ginger-haired winger failed to pick any of his team-mates out with the goal at their mercy.
And it looked as though United may have lived to rue that missed opportunity, as the visitors hit back to make for a nervy final 20 minutes. But Frolesworth weathered the storm, and they finally got the killer in the 82nd minute via a fantastic team move.
Pantony stole possession on the edge of his box before finding Garner in a more advanced position. He turned and looked to have initially found Bradshaw, but the target man intelligently dummied the ball for Splevings, who was now employed on the left flank to race clear.
After a heavy first touch, which withdrew the keeper from his line, Splevings sent a sumptuous and perfectly weighted lob over him to clinch the points and spark jubilant scenes on the touchline from Harris and Halford.
The win kick-starts Frolesworth’s campaign and finally moves them out of the drop zone with three points from the opening four fixtures, and they turn their attention to cup action over the next fortnight. The Rabbits will be hoping to exact revenge over AFC Hurricanes in the Arthur Moore Cup Group C fixture next Sunday.
FROLESWORTH: EVANS, JAMES (80 FOR PELL), BAKER, BOULTON, RUDMAN (70 FOR FINNIGAN), ROWBOTTOM (70 FOR BOTTOM), PANTONY, SPLEVINGS, GARNER, MORROW, BRADSHAW.
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