Home league match played on 08 January 2012.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

IT MIGHT have been a new year, but striker Joe Cook continued from where he left off in 2011, adding another two to an already prolific tally as Frolesworth United smashed in another five goals against what was in truth, a poor Thurmaston Progressive side.


The former Coventry City man sent the hosts on their way after just four minutes of the encounter, before Sam Pratt finally bagged his first goal in the famous claret with a wonderful finish after 25 minutes. 


Striker Callum Wills showcased his talent in front of goal three minutes before the break to secure all three points for the hosts, before Cook and substitute Harry Simmons added a deserved gloss to the scoreline in the second-half to propel Ben Harris' side to joint-second in Division One.


The Rabbits went into their first game of 2012 following a 7-3 demolition of struggling Niffy Rangers in the snow at Horsewell Lane, their first away win in the league so far this season.


On home soil, United defied belief by sensationally fighting back from 5-1 down with 20 minutes to play to salvage a valuable point against local rivals Dunton & Broughton Rangers last time out, but Sunday's visitors triumphed 4-3 when the sides met at Garden Street last November.


That game is due to be replayed later this month, however, after it was revealed that Progressive had fielded ineligible players and as a result, a determined Harris sent his players out to inflict retribution on the Division One newcomers.


He once again was able to name a strong side, which saw Harvey Morgan return to the heart of defence alongside skipper Mark James, meaning Martin Fennon was exiled at left-back with Pratt, who has made the right-back spot his own, making his 12th appearance of a fruitful season so far in front of Sam Green in goal.


United's front six sparkled against Niffy, but they were without hat-trick hero Sam Young this week and instead, Harris reverted to 4-4-2 as opposed to 4-3-3. Play-maker Dom Ivens and talisman Jake Pantony retained their place, as did Greg Garner on the right but Jack Sutherland returned behind a lethal strike-force of Cook and Wills to give the Country Boys the most menacing of attacking talent.


As a result, there was only room on the bench for youngsters Miles Splevings, Tom Stokes and Simmons alongside Joe Swanwick and Luke Evans, meaning Jack Boulton and Max Hallam failed to even make the squad.


But in spite of United's eagerness to continue their impressive recent form, kick-off at Steve Rendell Park was delayed by half-an-hour after referee John Farrell failed to show. Instead, Frolesworth chairman Josh Baines took the mantle and allowed the game to go ahead as planned and it took just four minutes for the home side to assert their superiority.


Both front-men were predictably involved and when Wills' low shot was parried, Cook was on hand to turn home a landmark 10th goal of the season. United have relied heavily on their two strikers, in addition to Simmons from off the bench, as goals from midfield have been few and far between this season, but Filipine playmaker Ivens was desperately unlucky not to open his account for the Clarets when his shot struck the post soon after.


It only took the home side until midway through the opening period to double their advantage though, through means slightly more unlikely. Pratt was manager Ben Harris' first signing of pre-season from nearby Bruntingthorpe and he has been moulded into a fine right-back thus far and it was another galloping overlap that allowed him to fire home a tremendous strike off the foot of the post after more fine work from Garner.


United were cruising now, although it appeared as though they were simply moving through the gears as Wills added a third just before the break. The little number 13 has been a revalation since his arrival in the summer and he showed exactly why the coaching staff were so keen to bring him to Dunley Way, when he jinked from either side before getting the ball onto his favoured right-foot and drilling home with aplomb.


United's three-goal cushion allowed Harris to make two changes at the break, as he once again experimented with the plethroa of wingers he has at his disposal. Sutherland, who was quiet by his own admission, was replaced by Stokes and Garner made way for Splevings.


But the pacy winger would soon have to be withdrawn himself, after complaing of breathing probelms. Stokes moved over to the right, with Wills moving out wide on the left to make way for Simmons, who has carved a niche for himself by scoring off the bench this season.


He would score again, too, but not before Cook added his second and 11th of the campaign with another close-range strike. In truth, Cook should have had the hat-trick his blinding display deserved, but he was twice thwarted one-on-one and he knows that he'll have to be more clinical in front of goal when up against fellow promotion chasers Star & Garter and Throops.


But fortunately for him, his blushes were spared by substitute Simmons who missed the easiest of chances after he had slotted into an empty net to make it 5-0. The forward had almost an eternity to open his body up and curl into the far corner, but instead he plumped for power over accuracy and he watched on in agony as his shot thumped the outside of the near post.


Thankfully for him and United, they already had a routine win sewn up but much sterner tests are likely to come as Harris' side, whose mettle will be really tested in the second-half of the season as they face most of the teams around them.


United will either sink or swim and Frolesworth travel to Dorothy Avenue to face bottom-side Glen Parva next week, having lost all three of their previous visits, before the rescheduled clash with Thurmaston Progressive at Garden Street.


Six more points in January could certainly set United up for a serious late assault on promotion.


In Harris we trust.






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