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Second half goal treble sinks Stamford side as Amateurs cap campaign with 17-match unbeaten run

Cottesmore claimed Ancaster Cup glory as Stamford Bels were beaten in the final for the second successive year after Saturday's showdown at Bourne Town's JJ Mac Stadium.

Skipper Jordan Smith had given Cottesmore an early advantage before Bels were blitzed by a three-goal blast in 15 second half minutes as Colton Cropper, Ben Richards and Eathan Milne all found the target.

The victory capped off a cracking finale to the campaign for Rich Giblin's side who ended their season with a 17-match unbeaten run.

Cottesmore celebrate their success. Photo: Geoff Atton (10142571)
Cottesmore celebrate their success. Photo: Geoff Atton (10142571)

Giblin said: "I was really pleased to get the win because cup finals are the sort of games where form goes out of the window.

"You could tell that Bels were really up for it and I thought we struggled to find our feet a little bit at first.

"We got a good first goal which settled us down. It was the first time we had really got the ball down and played and we scored from it.

"Bels came into it more and more though. They were up for the challenges and wanted to win the ball to still be in the game at half-time.

"I think if we had got the second goal it might have been game over so I said to the boys at half-time that we needed to get something early in the second half.

"We relatively got that. It wasn't a great display overall, but it was a cup final display and we deserved to win it.

"We created plenty of chances throughout and, although Tom Atkins hasn't scored, he has worked very hard and it was a shame because he deserved to be on the scoresheet.

"He has run their back-line ragged which is what we needed to do. He's won the penalty for the second goal which has given us a bit of breathing space.

"They've come back again, but Ben's got the third and then Eathan has rounded it off with a bit of individual class.

"It's been a good year and the boys have really worked hard and they deserved to win something for that.

"I said to them before the game that they should win the game for themselves because they deserve it after what they've done.

"They're a great set of lads to work with and they do listen and try to take on board what we're trying to do and the ethos of the club.

"They are what Cottesmore is about, working hard for the club, and I am very pleased overall."

Cottesmore beat Stamford Bels 4-0 in the final of the Ancaster Cup. Photo: Geoff Atton (10142255)
Cottesmore beat Stamford Bels 4-0 in the final of the Ancaster Cup. Photo: Geoff Atton (10142255)

Cottesmore were missing two of their influential players in top scorer Tom Pope and talented teenager Harry Sabberton while Bels were without regular goalkeeper Keenan Murphy and Ben Cowles, their injury-time match-winner from Wednesday's semi-final.

Murphy's replacement - George Winters - was called into action early on to deny Danny Seals with an unorthodox stop outside his penalty area after initially cleared ahead of Atkins.

Aaron Hart then went close to converting at the back post before Cottesmore broke the deadlock after nine minutes.

Atkins brilliantly back-heeled the ball into the path of skipper Smith who unleashed a superb finish into the roof of the Bels net.

Winters then made a superb save to divert a goalbound effort from Milne onto the crossbar before Hart curled another effort narrowly wide.

Bels' best opening of the early exchanges saw the lively Jordan Neil thwarted by a solid stop from Cottesmore custodian Jonny Hotson.

Atkins was then denied by another top drawer save from Winters after he raced clear in a one-on-one before Ben Waldron headed narrowly over at the other end from a Neil corner.

Atkins should have doubled Cottesmore's lead just ahead of half-time when Winters blasted a clearance against his own defender but, with the goal at his mercy, the Cottesmore striker fired into the side-netting.

Cottesmore skipper and man of the match Jordan Smith. Photo: Geoff Atton (10142547)
Cottesmore skipper and man of the match Jordan Smith. Photo: Geoff Atton (10142547)

Cottesmore continued in the ascendency after the break with Cropper fizzing a fierce strike over the crossbar before Atkins' industrious efforts in the Amateurs attack saw him felled in the box by Tyler Sculthorpe.

Cropper converted the spot kick with his customary aplomb with a power-packed penalty that gave Winters no chance.

Bels responded to falling two goals behind and Rhys Gilson clipped an effort against the Cottesmore crossbar.

However, a third goal then sealed the game for Cottesmore with 15 minutes remaining as Richards fired home following a Smith corner.

Cottesmore then added a fourth goal two minutes later as Milne crowned their success in style by curling home a sublime finish into the top corner from outside the area.

Bels produced a late flurry with Dave Atkinson arrowing a free-kick just over the bar before Gilson fired another effort just wide.

However, a consolation goal eluded the Stamford side as Cottesmore regained the Ancaster Cup which they last won in the 2014/15 season.

Cottesmore: Hotson, Wilke, L Smith, Richards, Hart (Lomas), Bendle (Mellor), J Smith (Iron), Seals, Atkins, Milne (Richards), Cropper (Robson).

Bels: G Winters, Corby, Freeman, Boon, Sculthorpe, Waldron, L Morley, Atkinson, Cramp, S Toomey, Neil. Subs used: Gilson, Leeton, A Winters, L Toomey. Not used: J Morley.

Man of the match: Jordan Smith (Cottesmore).

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