FROLESWORTH United began their assault on promotion from the Alliance League Division Two with a miraculous fight back at Horsewell Lane after Jordan Halford witnessed his new-look side concede twice in the opening seven minutes against a very ordinary Webbys Wanderers side.
An uncharacteristic loose pass from Dom Ivens midway inside his own half presented Keaton Towers with the chance to open the scoring, before Steven Bottom's drastically short back-pass enabled Towers to slide home his second and completely gazump a shellshocked visitors. But United responded with three goals inside five pulsating minutes, which saw new signing Max Jones slam home a debut goal before the returning Sam Young and Callum Wills nudged the Rabbits in front.
Ivens, who atoned for his earlier mistake with two assists, then headed United some breathing space 11 minutes after the break, but Towers ensured a nervy finish after he was upended in the box by captain Mark James and confidently dispatched the resulting spot-kick to claim the match ball. However, in spite of surviving a smattering of late pressure from the hosts, United's resolve was blemished no further and they held on to record their first three-point haul in almost 12 months to get their season up and running at the first attempt.
It had been a tumultuous pre-season since relegation from the Premier League back in April, one which has seen Halford almost single-handedly prevent the club from sliding into liquidation. The 24-year-old rescued the club from a £500 debt before Rod Jacques' formation of Lutterworth Town and lease of former home ground Dunley Way threatened to put the Rabbits' five-year existence in jeopardy.
However, the club was swiftly relocated to Kimcote Road, Gilmorton, before a new sponsorship deal from the Shambles enabled the club to maintain a healthy financial disposition heading into the new year. Halford was also at the forefront of recruiting fresh blood, as marquee signing Barnes Gladman penned a deal with the club after Young, Ben Hallam, Dan Morrow and Jones were all tempted to return to United but it proved to be at the cost of his manager, Ben Harris, who subsequently submitted his resignation in acrimonious circumstances less than 12 hours before the United's first pre-season fixture.
Halford was left to pick up the pieces and the interim boss was without up to 10 players for the trip to Wigston, as Gladman and Hallam were both prevented from making their highly-anticipated debuts. Mark Baker, Miles Splevings and Morrow were also sidelined for the Rabbits' first ever clash in the third tier, but Frolesworth's newly-acquired strength in depth meant he still had plenty of options for the season's opener.
Luke Evans was given the vote of confidence as United's number one, behind a back-four which included the returning Andy Morris, captain James, Joshua Van Allen and Martin Fennon as a makeshift left-back. Chris Capell and Steven Bottom were given the task of providing a platform for a frightening front four in the shape of Wills, Jones and Ivens behind lone-striker Young, all of which would go on to score open their accounts.
But in spite of a resounding 5-1 success against Birstall Stamford in their final pre-season friendly a week previous, confidence remained in short supply amongst the Frolesworth ranks after a club record run of 12 successive league defeats. With a 3-2 victory against GT on September 16th 2012 now a distant memory, United began their first game at this level tentatively and remarkably found themselves behind barely four minutes into the contest.
Filipino playmaker Ivens has been one of United's most resourceful engineers in bygone campaigns, so it was of utmost surprise to the traveling contingent when he was guilty of a horrific blind pass midway through his half that gifted Towers the chance to fire Wanderers in front. It was an all too familiar story for Frolesworth, but matters would be made worse just three minutes later as the home side doubled their advantage after Bottom sold Evans short with an attempted back-pass and the lightening quick Towers capitalised by gently sliding the ball past the helpless giant.
But where teams of Frolesworth past would have gone under, this youthful side refused to have their belly tickled and instead, roared back with a dizzy five minute spell that changed the complexion of the entire fixture. It was no surprise that when the visitors finally began to move the ball quickly, their energetic movement and incisive passing would bamboozle the hosts' defence and so it proved, as Young escaped around the back before the onrushing Jones arrived on cue to sweep home and spark the fight back.
The game was level after just 17 minutes, this time through Young who prodded home in the six-yard box after Ivens' intelligent cut back before barely 60 seconds later, Wills raced onto the Filipino's quick free-kick to slash home the third. It was a whirlwind of a contest until now, but after having effortlessly cruised through the gears the visitors took their foot off the proverbial pedal and the action ceased until 11 minutes after the break.
United's fourth was through means rather less indulgent, but no less effective, as Young swung a deep free-kick to the far post that Ivens slammed home to dispel his earlier mistake and ensure the points were heading back to Gilmorton. Halford chose to introduce both Danny Knott and Cam Rhind on the right on the hour mark, but Ivens' header would prove to be decisive as with 14 minutes still to play, Towers set up a dramatic finale after he was upended in the box before dusting himself down to emphatically complete his hat-trick from 12 yards.
But it would matter little, as United managed to grind out a vital three points away from home on the opening day in a game which they would have surely surrendered last season. The Rabbits might now ply their trade at their lowest ever ebb in the third tier, but they have the chance to reach the Division Two summit when Desford Athletic visit Kimcote Road for the first time on Wednesday evening.
We've got our Frolesworth back.