Cottesmore defeat Desford in Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division clash at Westray Park
Cottesmore manager Rich Giblin is hoping his side are starting to learn how to handle the pressure of being one of the teams to beat in the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division.
The Rutland side maintained their grip on second spot with a hard-fought 1-0 home success over second-from-bottom Desford on Saturday.
Harry Stannard’s first half goal was enough to secure Cottesmore’s 12th win from their last 13 league games, but they were taken to the wire after a contest which saw both sides struggle to cope with the wind-swept conditions at Westray Park.
Giblin said: “The conditions wrecked the game and neither side really adapted to it.
“Desford are not a bad side and they came with a game-plan of playing five at the back which they have every right to do.
“It’s a game we would have drawn or lost in the past and there is extra pressure on us now because of our league position.
“The pressure is now on us and it’s not a situation we are used to. We are still learning and there will be times when we have to get scrappy wins.
“We huffed and puffed and took the points which I’m quite happy about because teams are now turning up to play us with nothing to lose.
“Teams are not just going to come over to us and let us play open and expansive football, but at the end of the day it was a 1-0 win and three points which we will gladly take.
“We probably should been two or three goals up at half-time, but Desford stayed in the game and all credit to them for taking us all the way because we were never in a position where we could relax.”
Cottesmore went into the match without the services of Danny Seals, Shaun Dennigan and Tom Atkins while James Waby faces a longer-than-expected spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.
They made a bright start with the elements in their favour in the opening period but were then rocked by the loss of Andre Fontoura who suffered a recurrence of a knee injury following a challenge in the area which the home team felt was worthy of a penalty kick.
With Wilson Iron coming on and proving to be a more than capable replacement, Cottesmore started to find their feet again.
Stannard saw an effort go wide of the post while top scorer Tom Pope’s bad run of luck in front of goal continued when his well-struck shot cannoned back off the crossbar.
The home side’s pressure was rewarded when Cottesmore broke the deadlock as Stannard made the most of the good fortune that seems to have recently deserted his strike partner Pope.
The frontman went through in a one-on-one and, although the Desford goalkeeper blocked his initial shot, the spun up and over the custodian before bouncing into the net for Stannard’s fifth goal in the last three games.
Cottesmore continued to create the better chances after the break but were unable to find the crucial second goal which could have dented Desford’s morale.
Pope saw another effort well saved by the Desford goalkeeper before Jake Robson found himself clear late on only to be thwarted by another top stop from the visiting number one.
Desford pushed more players forward in the latter stages as they searched for an equaliser, but Cottesmore goalkeeper Alex Egner wasn’t seriously troubled as he kept his third clean sheet in five games.
Cottesmore: Egner, Wilke, L Smith, Bendle, Sabberton, Robson, Lomas (Cropper), Fontoura (Iron), J Smith, Stannard (Preira), Pope.
Cottesmore start a run of four successive away games when they travel to Thurnby Rangers on Saturday.
That’s followed by trips to Sileby Town, Friar Lane & Epworth and Blaby & Whetstone in the following weeks.
They have also been drawn to face Thurnby, this time at home, in the semi-finals of the Beacon Hill League Cup.
The last four clash is due to take place at Westray Park on Tuesday, March 3, with the winners facing either Rugby Borough or Hathern in the final.
More by this authorJames Bedford