Cottesmore claim victory over Rugby Borough in Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division clash
Manager Rich Giblin hailed the character of his Cottesmore charges as they defied the absence of a number of key players to topple reigning champions Rugby Borough on Saturday.
The Rutland side were without eight members of their first team squad – top scorer Tom Pope, Tom Bendle, Colton Cropper, Craig McJannet, Wilson Iron, Robbie Preira, James Waby and Eathan Milne who has joined Sleaford Town – for the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division clash.
It forced Giblin to name himself as one of their two substitutes as Cottesmore looked for a return to winning ways after their 10-match run of victories was ended by table-topping Allexton & New Parks last Saturday.
They fell behind just before half-time but bounced back with a sterling second half display which culminated in Harry Stannard scoring an 85th minute winner from the penalty spot.
Giblin said: “It was a great result.
“We would have happily taken a point before the game when you’re travelling to the defending champions with so many players missing.
“We were still licking our wounds after last Saturday as well, but we still put out a strong starting eleven and the victory and performance was testament to the character of the players.
“I asked the boys how much they wanted it and they did everything asked of them.
“To produce that level of performance was fantastic.”
Both sides started well on the 4G surface without really creating too many clear-cut chances in the opening period.
Alex Egner in the Cottesmore goal made a smart stop from a header before the hosts hit the front with five minutes of the first half remaining.
Cottesmore failed to clear their lines from a corner and the ball fell invitingly in the penalty area for a home striker to hook the ball over his shoulder for a finish which gave Egner no chance.
The Rutland side rallied at the break and got themselves back into the contest in some style.
Stannard had been keeping a watchful eye on the Borough keeper’s positioning off his line throughout the contest and, when the opportunity presented itself, he unleashed a stunning first-time strike from 40 yards that arrowed over the stranded custodian before dipping in time to land in the roof of the home net.
The hosts then had a player sin-binned for 10 minutes which allowed Cottesmore to consolidate their status on the game.
And, shortly after Rugby had been restored to the full complement of players, they took the lead through another excellent finish.
Skipper Jordan Smith won control of the ball after a 50/50 challenge with the home goalkeeper before squaring his pass to Danny Seals.
Seals still had to plenty to do on the edge of the penalty area but kept his cool to plant a composed finish into the top corner past two covering defenders on the line.
Rugby responded and, after Harry Sabberton had been harshly penalised for hand-ball just outside the area, hit home a fine strike from the resultant free kick to equalise.
The impetus was now with the hosts but Cottesmore had the final say as they scored the all-important third goal with five minutes remaining.
Centre-back Luke Smith broke up a Rugby raid before marauding forward after an inter-change of passes with Jake Robson and Seals.
His progress was finally halted by a mistimed challenge from the Rugby goalkeeper as the Cottesmore player reached the ball first in the penalty area.
The referee pointed to the spot and Stannard stepped up to convert the penalty and secure a memorable win for Cottesmore.
They were also boosted by two of the sides in the chasing pack – Friar Lane & Epworth and Sileby – both dropping points at the weekend which leaves Cottesmore three points clear in second place ahead of Saturday’s home clash with second-from-bottom Desford at Westray Park (kick-off 2pm).
Cottesmore: Egner, Wilke, L Smith, Dennigan, Sabberton, Robson, Seals, Atkins, Fontoura (Lomas), Stannard, J Smith. Not used: Giblin.
More by this authorJames Bedford