AN ABJECT display from Frolesworth United saw them suffer their first league defeat of the season after being on the receiving end of a hammering from newly-promoted Sunbury United at Harrison Road this morning.
Kick-off at Rushey Fields was delayed for over an hour due to the Leicester Marathon, but it took the home side just six minutes to break the deadlock before Joe Cook's deflected effort hauled United level. However, the home side regained the initiative in the 27th minute to lead 2-1 going into the break, only for striker Harry Simmons to give his side a glimmer of hope two minutes after the restart with his third goal of the campaign.
Sunbury took the lead for the third time in the game shortly after, before United were forced to play the remaining half-an-hour with just ten men after second-half substitute Jake Pantony was withdrawn following his recurring ankle injury and his team-mates subsequently collapsed, shipping three further goals in the final 20 minutes as Frolesworth suffered their heaviest defeat in over a year.
United manager Ben Harris was forced into making four changes from the side that was narrowly beaten 3-2 at Premier Division giants Advance Couriers in the Arthur Moore Cup Group C, with Joe Swanwick replacing Dan Morrow at right-back the only change in the back-four.
Sam Pratt deputised on the right of midfield at the expense of Miles Splevings and with Jake Pantony, Dominic Ivens and Martin Fennon all missing through injury, Harris was forced to employ striker Joe Cook in the centre of the park alongside club secretary Luke Evans.
Harry Simmons partnered Callum Wills up front following his consolation goal at Horsewell Lane, but the visitors started on the backfoot after their pre-match preparations were hampered due to the closure of several roads, which meant United arrived at Rushey Fields an hour late.
United had barely got out of the dressing room when Nathan Corby's early strike gave the home side the lead and though there was a huge element of luck, there was certainly no denying the quality of the finish.
Corby's first touch initially appeared too heavy for him, but as the ball skipped off the glossy surface it agaonisingy eluded captain Mark James and Corby raced clean through before sending a deft chip over the advancing Sam Green.
Falling behind didn't spark the Rabbits into life, either, as they struggled to cope with wave upon wave of pressure from the home side and United were fortunate not to go two down as Green saw the upright come to his rescue shortly before Cook compounded the hosts' misery by hauling Frolesworth level in the 21st minute.
Tom Stokes' corner was only partially cleared to Cook, who was lurking on the edge of the area, and after being urged to shoot he let fly with a vicious right-footed drive, which took a slight deflection to give Frolesworth a precious equaliser with their first meaningful foray into the Sunbury box.
But just six minutes later, Cook turned from hero to villain as he was caught in possession on the edge of his own box by Brett Palmer, who took just one touch before curling a sumptuous low drive past the sprawling Green.
Sunbury thumped the woodwork from long range once again before the break, as Harris perhaps revealed a few home truths for the first time but United soon responded in precisely the way their manager would have wished, with a goal.
Frolesworth began the second period brightly and forced a corner on the near side, which Cook swung in deep towards the back-post and Simmons met it with a powerful header to give Frolesworth renewed belief.
But once again, their defending appeared to be their achilles heel as Sunbury struck for a third time, prompting Harris to turn to his trump card from the bench in the form of Pantony.
The talismanic midfielder limped off in Frolesworth's 3-0 win against Horse earlier in the campaign, but his comeback here was cut drastically short after he was viciously scythed down within a minute of him appearing off the bench, meaning United were forced to play the remainder of the contest with just 10-men.
It appeared not to hinder them initially, as both Simmons and then Wills spurned great opportunities to drag Frolesworth level again but as the contest drew on, legs soon became weary and the game ebbed further away from United as the hosts added a deserved gloss to the scoreline with three goals in the final 20 minutes as the Rabbits shipped six for the first time since September 2010.
Once again it appears to be a case of Jekyll and Hyde for Frolesworth, who were excellent at Horsewell Lane but simply disastrous at Harrison Lane here today, although despite not playing well they were well in this game for an hour until Pantony's unfortunate injury.
As for Harris, his squad is already plagued with injuries to several key players and he will hope his assistant manager Jordan Halford can pick this team up and get a result against Glen Parva next week.
Once again, it seems as though Frolesworth are left searching for consistency and this was a much-needed reality check.
It's going to be a long ol' season.