** THE PLOUGH INN, BRUNTINGHTORPE 0-5 FROLESWORTH UNITED**
THE sound of jet engines from Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome roared over Home Field on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, as Frolesworth United got their 2011/12 pre-season campaign off to a flying start in the sunshine today.
Goals from Joe Cook, debutants Sam Pratt and Ryan Coyle, in addition to Tom Stokes and Greg Garner gave the Rabbits a richly-deserved and handsome win in their opening friendly, which was contested over three 30-minute periods.
Manager Ben Harris ensured that each of his 19-man squad got a run out and he handed debuts to former Coventry City-man Coyle and winger Pratt, who faced his old club, as well as left-back Max Hallam and striker Harry Simmons, who both came off the bench.
Goalkeeper Luke Evans was handed the captain’s armband, behind a back-four which saw the welcome return of Dan Morrow at right-back alongside Mark James, Martin Fennon and Jack Rudman.
Dominic Ivens returned in a three-man midfield after signing on a permanent basis from American outfit Lincoln Land Loggers, while Joe Swanwick partnered Coyle after impressing the gaffer in pre-season training.
Miles Splevings, Joe Cook and Pratt completed a three-pronged attack for United, who began to stroke the ball around comfortably on a difficult surface immediately from kick-off.
And it wasn’t long before they took the lead, either, after a superb interchange from Ivens and Cook on the edge of the area. The Filipino talisman dinked a delicious chip into the path of Cook, who took one touch before opening his body to slot home with poise.
Cook looked sharp leading the line during the opening exchanges and showed some deft touches, but it was 15-year-old midfielder Coyle that soon began to pull the strings and he turned provider for Frolesworth’s second goal in just the 16th minute.
He picked the ball up from deep before embarking on a purposeful run towards goal and fizzing a vicious low cross across the face of the goalmouth, which was gleefully turned home by Pratt at the near-post.
Harris then rang the changes at the end of the opening half-an-hour, with no fewer than eight substitutions. Evans, James and Coyle were the only three not to be tinkered with as the impressive Morrow was replaced by Matt Pell, Fennon with Steven Bottom and Rudman by his cousin, Hallam, at the back.
Eddie Glaister was introduced into the midfield at the expense of Swanwick, while Jake Pantony made a rare bow off the bench to replace Ivens. Tom Stokes replaced Splevings on the left, while Pratt made way for Garner on the right and Simmons swapped places with Cook.
Though the changes didn’t appear to have the necessary affect, as United’s fluent passing-game soon became stifled. That was, however, until Coyle once again settled his side midway through the second period with a sublime solo effort.
He once again demanded possession in the middle of the park, before somehow twisting and turning his way through several challenges and sending a sumptuous curling effort into the top corner to make it 3-0.
United certainly weren’t content to rest on their laurels either and Stokes added further gloss to the score-line just minutes after, albeit it through a slightly more fortuitous method.
Garner’s long-throw caused havoc in the opposing area after Simmons’ flick-on and United somehow managed to keep the danger alive before Stokes inadvertently hooked the ball goal-wards with his weaker foot, only for it to completely gazump the hosts’ goalkeeper and loop into the net.
Harris once again changed his stripes at the hour-mark, preferring this time to employ his side in a 4-4-2 with Fennon returning to the defence in place of James.
The midfield four comprised of Garner, Pantony, Glaister and Splevings, meaning that the pacy duo of Cook and Morrow were partnered in attack.
But this time it was Garner that was at the forefront of each United advance.
The talented winger, who made just eight appearances last season, thumped the upright with an immaculate volley after hard-work from Morrow down the right had fashioned him a shooting chance.
And with just under 15 minutes to play, he would get the goal that his endeavour deserved after Pantony angled a superb diagonal ball over the full-back for Garner to latch onto and he beat the onrushing keeper to prod home United’s fifth.
It was a suitable exercise for Frolesworth’s first pre-season outing and the Rabbits dominated the fixture from the first whistle to the last, though there are certain to be sterner tests ahead for Harris’ side before the Division One curtain-raiser in Septemer.
But on this evidence, with the return of Dan Morrow and Dominic Ivens and the prospect of Jack Boulton, Harvey Morgan, Jack Sutherland and Callum Wills, all of whom are yet to make their pre-season bow, returning to the fray, Harris is likely to have his squad in the best shape under his tenure so far.
Only how he wishes he would be able to sign Ryan Coyle on a permanent basis.
FROLESWORTH (4-3-3) – EVANS (c) 6, MORROW 7, JAMES 9, FENNON 8, RUDMAN 7, COYLE 9, SWANWICK 8, IVENS 8, SPLEVINGS 7, PRATT 8, COOK 9.
SUBS – PELL 7, BOTTOM 7, HALLAM 7, PANTONY 7, GLAISTER 7, GARNER 7, STOKES 7, SIMMONS 6.
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