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Cottesmore draw with Fleckney Athletic in the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division

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A rapid start failed to catapult Cottesmore to victory as they shared the spoils with bottom-of-the-table Fleckney on Saturday.

Morgan Heppleston had taken just 28 seconds to break the deadlock in the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division clash at Westray Park.

However, the early opener lulled Cottesmore into a false sense of security while firing up Fleckley who produced a performance that defied their league position in both sides' first match for three weeks following the festive break.

Morgan Heppleston, right, gave Cottesmore an early lead. Photo: Alan Walters
Morgan Heppleston, right, gave Cottesmore an early lead. Photo: Alan Walters

Cottesmore boss Rich Giblin commented: "The first game back after Christmas is always a strange one, especially with the way that the dates fell this year and having that three-week break which was longer than normal.

"We had trained a couple of times during the break but you can't ever really get that match sharpness which you need.

"It's fair to say that we were a little bit rusty and a lot off the pace and the worst thing we did was score inside 30 seconds.

"The problem was that everyone thought it was going to be easy while Fleckney woke up and thought that, if they didn't do something, then they would get a tonking.

"We just weren't really there and it was lack-lustre. We were laboured all over the park and it was everybody not just one or two players.

"It was disappointing but it wasn't unexpected because I thought the break might take the wind out of our sails."

Cottesmore had done into the contest on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run and got off to a dream start when Colton Cropper's 40-yard crossfield pass found Heppleston who converted at the back post.

However, Fleckney rallied after the early setback and home goalkeeper Alex Brown was called into action on several occasions in the opening period.

Eddie McDonald went close for Cottesmore after a teasing run past three home players while Tom Caldicott, Kieran Burley and Mark Tinsley all half chances for the hosts.

Mark Tinsley. Photo: Rob O'Brien (54212096)
Mark Tinsley. Photo: Rob O'Brien (54212096)

Fleckney levelled the contest on the stroke of half-time with a near post header which forced Cottesmore to up their game in the second period.

They created half-a-dozen good openings without seriously working the Fleckney goalkeeper before taking the lead with five minutes remaining.

Play was stopped due to a head injury with Cottesmore in possession and Caldicott quickly collected the drop ball to resume play before sending over a cross that Tinsley turned home.

However, the home side then saw their hopes of victory dashed in the final minute when a mix-up at the back saw an unmarked Fleckney player find a team-mate to fire home a last-gasp equaliser.

Giblin added: "We thought we had the job done when our second goal went in, but we committed hari-kari at the end.

"Instead of having that little bit of game management to stay composed, we haven't marked men by our own admission and they've taken advantage of it.

"Fleckney fully deserved their point though, if not more, because I was impressed with them and they played some nice stuff. They are a decent side who will hopefully turn the corner now.

"Although we were disappointed to only take a point from a game you would expect us to win, we have to look at it as it's still a point more than we had on Saturday morning.

"We have to look at the positives because we know that we haven't played well but we will address it and the lads all agreed that things need to change for this week which, maybe in that respect, means it isn't a bad thing."

The draw saw Cottesmore slip down to sixth spot ahead of Saturday's home match with in-form Highfield Rangers.

Cottesmore: Brown, Denigan, Ridout, Cropper (Fortnam), Burley (Fontoura), McDonald, Luke Smith, Caldicott, Heppleston (Topaloglu), Tinsley, Stannard (Roberts).

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