Cottesmore AFC lose their grip on the Everards Tiger Bitter League Cup after defeat to Ashby Ivanhoe Knights
Cottesmore saw their reign as Everards Tiger Bitter League Cup holders ended after a cracking quarter-final clash with Ashby Ivanhoe Knights at Westray Park on Tuesday evening.
A disastrous start where the home side conceded three goals inside the opening 20 minutes of the contest proved to be their downfall.
Although they had launched a superb comeback to get back on level terms by midway through the second period, there was a further sting in the tail for Cottesmore as Ashby then grabbed their match-winning fourth goal late on.
Cottesmore boss Rich Giblin said: “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and you just can’t do that because the first 20 minutes wasn’t us and it wasn’t what we are about.
“Ashby were not a bad side but the goals that we conceded were so frustrating. Two of them came from poor tackles on the edge of the box which has put us under pressure and the other is the result of a mistake.
“The one thing that we will take from it though is that to come back from 3-0 down to make it 3-3 shows a lot of character.
“The boys do deserve credit for that because for most of the second half it was one-way traffic.
“We were unlucky with their fourth goal as they have won a tackle and the ball has just ricocheted through to the centre forward.
“You have got to take the rough with the smooth though.
“It’s disappointing that as the holders we are out but we will take it on the chin and look at the Restart Cup as an opportunity to get something out of the season.”
Cottesmore were shorn of a number of their regular midfielders for the clash with Danny Seals, Eddie McDonald, Harry Sabberton, Danny Barker and Colton Cropper all missing.
Darren Wilkes was moved into midfield alongside recent recruit Craig Attwood against an Ashby side who were bolstered by some first team regulars from their higher level Midland League Division One side.
The visitors got off to a flying start when a free-kick cannoned off the Cottesmore wall and fell invitingly to be smashed home.
A lapse in concentration in the home rearguard then allowed Ashby to double their lead moments later.
Harry Stannard twice had decent opportunities to reduce the arrears before Ashby struck again as they reacted first after another setpiece had caused confusion in the home rearguard.
A flying save from Alex Brown prevented any further damage before Cottesmore opened their account when Stannard glanced home an inviting cross from Craig McJannet.
The visitors then struck the post on the stroke of half-time while Brown had to be alert in the early stages of the second half with a strong tackle outside his area to thwart a lively Ashby break.
Cottesmore were the dominant force after that though and they continued to pepper the home goal.
McJannet rifled home a superb finish from the edge of the box for their second goal just past the hour mark.
Ashby then had a player sin-binned for 10 minutes and Cottesmore took advantage as Tom Atkins headed home their equaliser.
It looked as if Cottesmore would go on and crown a remarkable comeback with a winning goal but, with six minutes remaining, a tackle in the middle of the park saw the ball run favourably for the visitors who broke to slot home past Brown.
Cottesmore piled forward in search of another equaliser and Stannard smacked a sweet last-gasp strike that looked destined for the Ashby net until it took a deflection off a visiting player and rattled the crossbar before being cleared to safety by the Knights who held out with some last-ditch challenge to secure a semi-final trip to either Kibworth Town or Highfield Rangers.