Cottesmore claim cup final spot after beating Bels
Cottesmore claimed their place in the final of the Daniels Cup after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Stamford Bels on Wednesday night.
All of the goals in the semi-final clash at Blackstones came in the opening period with Tom Pope putting Amateurs ahead before David Atkinson brought Bels back level from the penalty spot.
Jaede Timms then fired home what proved to be the winning goal five minutes before half-time to earn Cottesmore a cup final spot against either Blackstones or Bourne.
Both sides also finished the match with 10 men with Cottesmore seeing Andre Fontoura red-carded for retaliation while Bels’ James Slack suffered a serious knee injury and was stretchered off with the Peterborough League side having already used their three permitted substitutes.
Cottesmore had made the brighter start to the contest and deservedly took an early lead when the ball broke into Pope’s path after Fontoura’s burst forward and the Amateurs frontman finished with aplomb.
Timms came close to doubling Cottesmore’s lead when he raced clear to latch onto Danny Seals’ slide-rule pass, however, his low effort was well blocked by advancing Bels custodian George Winters.
Pope then saw a well-struck strike deflected onto the crossbar as the Leicestershire Senior League side looked to assert their authority on proceedings.
However, Bels came more into the contest as the first half wore on and it needed a smart stop from Cottesmore custodian Ben Challis to keep out a header from Alfie Winters.
The Stamford side didn’t have too wait much longer to restore parity though as the on-rushing Challis felled Paul Cramp after a ball had been pumped into the Cottesmore box.
And Atkinson made no mistake from the spot with a composed finish to bring Bels back onto level terms.
Slack sent a sweet strike narrowly over as Bels looked to build on the momentum that their equaliser had given them.
However, five minutes before half-time some indecisive defending allowed Amateurs to reclaim the lead as Timms broke clear to fire home.
Cottesmore came out for the second half looking to put the game beyond Bels and George Winters again excelled with a crucial block to deny Timms who had linked up well with Seals.
Challis made a timely intervention to turn away a Rhys Gilson free-kick as Bels responded, but the goalkeeper was injured making the stop and Colton Cropper was forced to don the goalkeeping gloves.
But Bels were unable to really test the stand-in stopper as Cottesmore kept them at bay and it was the Rutland side who came closest the extending the lead.
Wilson Iron was thwarted by a good save from George Winters as he bore down on goal and the goalkeeper then produced two more miraculous stops in the ensuing follow up for an incredible triple save to deny Iron again and Seals.
The game was then held up for around 10 minutes when Slack went down in agony after twisting his knee unchallenged.
He was stretchered off and, although Cottesmore also finished the match the 10 men shortly after when Fontoura lashed out in retaliation at a Gilson challenge, Bels rarely looked like getting a second equaliser.
Their best effort came from teenage substitute Luke Toomey whose goalbound strike was blocked as Cottesmore held out to secure their cup final place.
Cottesmore: Challis, Iron, L Smith, North, Cayley, Cropper, J Smith, Seals, Pope, Timms, Fontoura. Subs: Warman, Dawson, Moss.
Stamford Bels: G Winters, Morley, Slack, Mason, Sculthorpe, Betts, Leeton, Atkinson, A Winters, Gilson, Cramp. Subs: O’Donnell, Toomey, Mclarnon, Greenwood, Ford.