Cottesmore AFC progress in the Everards Restart Premier Cup after victory over Thurnby Rangers
Cottesmore clinched second spot to secure a semi-final place in the Everards Restart Premier Cup after victory in their group finale at Westray Park on Saturday.
A goal in each half from Tom Pope and Craig Attwood helped secure the 2-1 victory as Cottesmore leapfrogged defeated visitors Thurnby Rangers to finish runners-up behind group winners Hathern.
The victory also signalled a return to winning ways for the Rutland side who had suffered rare defeats in their past two outings.
Manager Rich Giblin said: "It was a battle, but we played some nice stuff and, coming off the back of last week, we asked the lads just to go out and enjoy it and try to get back to playing the stuff which we had.
"We changed the formation slightly because we were trying to be a bit more forward thinking with our passes.
"I thought we were rocky in the first 10 or 15 minutes because our balance was upset slightly and we had to camp a bit.
"We played some nice stuff after that though and our first goal was one of the best we have scored this season.
"It was a little bit like how we used to be and maybe that it is starting to click again because it does take time as the season has been so stop-start.
"We have had to make changes again from last week and it does take time to gel which we haven't got at the moment but we dug deep at the end when we needed to and it was a good win against a decent Thurnby."
Cottesmore were boosted by the return of Danny Seals to their midfield which allowed Darren Wilke to revert to his familiar role at the heart of their defence while Harry Stannard was back in the Cottesmore front-line.
However, Luke Smith and Tom Bendle were both missing along with Colton Cropper and Eddie McDonald.
The early exchanges were fairly even with Thurlby boosted by the inclusion of former Stamford playmaker Jake Duffy who was regularly looking to find openings.
However, clear-cut chances were at a premium for both sides with Shaun Dennigan seeing his early header saved while Josh Gascoigne saw a well-struck shot crucially blocked by the Cottesmore defender at the other end with Duffy firing the rebound over.
Both sides continued to cancel each other out until the 34th minute when Cottesmore produced the move of the match.
They tidily worked the ball out wide to skipper Jordan Smith whose pinpoint cross to the back post was headed home with aplomb by top scorer Pope.
With the visitors reduced to 10 men for a brief spell shortly after when Duffy was sin-binned for dissent, Cottesmore look to take advantage and Danny Barker twice went close to doubling their lead.
He saw a low shot tipped past the post by Christy Feeley in the Rangers goal before the visiting custodian clung onto Barker's header from the resultant corner.
Attwood saw a goalbound header cleared off the line in the early stages of the second period before Cottesmore got their crucial second goal after 69 minutes.
Tom Atkins - who had just been introduced as a replacement for the injured Barker - swung in a free-kick and Attwood rose highest to power home his header.
Seals was then forced off with double vision as Thurnby turned into more of a force as the match wore on.
Shaun Barber and Duffy both fizzed in long range shots before Smith made a vital last-ditch tackle to thwart Gascoigne and deny the visitors in their most promising opening.
Rangers threw caution to the wind in the dying stages and home goalkeeper Alex Brown had to scramble away a couple of efforts from the visitors who eventually broke through with just a minute remaining.
Barber saw his initial effort saved by Brown but was able to collect the rebound and turn it back for Duffy to score from close range.
However, it proved too little too late for the visitors as Cottesmore comfortably saw out the period of injury-time to secure their place in the last four where they will travel to either Desford or Friar Lane & Epworth next Saturday.
Cottesmore: Brown, Dennigan, McJannet, Wilke, Seals (Burley), Nasser (Godfrey), Barker (Atkins), Pope, Smith, Stannard.