Amateurs end league campaign with 15-match unbeaten run after home draw
Cottesmore are on course for their best-ever league finish for more than 20 years despite a late leveller denying them a top six spot in their final game of the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division campaign on Saturday.
Rich Giblin’s side had gone into Saturday’s home match against Hathern needing a victory to leapfrog their visitors and snatch sixth place in the final standings.
However, they were pegged back in a wind-affected clash at Westray Park with Hathern hitting two goals after the break to cancel out Cottesmore’s first half double strike.
The point will still guarantee a seventh place finish if FC Khalsa fail to beat high-flying Saffron Dynamo on Thursday night.
And that would eclipse anything Amateurs have achieved since 1998 with even eighth place equalling the efforts of the 2012/13 Cottesmore side.
Manager Giblin said: “The players have had a lot of deal with this season with a couple of changes of manager and bringing a lot of a new faces into the team.
“We have had a very established team for the last few years, but this season we’ve brought in the likes of Eathan Milne, Darren Wilke and Jonny Hotson while Tom Atkins, Carl Hamnett and Harry Sabberton have all stepped up from the reserves.
“We have brought in new faces, but they have mixed in well and it has worked. It has been a very positive season.
“If we manage to stay in seventh place then that would be better anything since 1998 which is a really good reward for what we have done this season.”
Giblin felt a point was a fair return for both sides from Saturday’s clash with Cottesmore making the most of having the elements in their favour in the first half before Hathern hit back after the break.
He said: “We didn’t do enough to win the game so a draw was a fair result.
“We had worked really hard against Asfordby on Tuesday night and it was a bit of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show.’
“We didn’t quite look right. We started off well and played some good football, but the temptation to launch it over the top was there with the wind behind us and the ball just ran through to their keeper.
“We did score two good goals, but that wasn’t enough and we couldn’t find the third to really kill the game off.
“Hathern just pushed and pushed in the second half and we didn’t have many opportunities before their two goals.
“They are a decent side though so we can’t really be too disappointed especially as it stretched our unbeaten run to 15 games.”
Cottesmore had taken 15 minutes to break the deadlock when Jordan Smith’s cross from the left was met by the soaring Ben Richards who powered a header into the top corner.
The lead was then doubled when Colton Cropper collected the ball 20 yards out and unleashed a fizzing strike that flew into the bottom corner of the Hathern net.
Top goalscorer Tom Pope then came close to adding a third only to see the Hathern goalkeeper tip his effort over the bar and deny him what would have been a 24th goal in 22 appearances this season.
Hathern had the strong wind in their favour after the break and halved the deficit from the penalty spot when Carl Hamnett was unable to avoid a visiting striker who had raced into his path and James O’Neill converted the resultant spot kick.
The visitors continued to dominate and eventually levelled with three minutes remaining when Richards was only able to dangerous cross towards his own goal.
And, although goalkeeper Hotson made a fine save, Jake Maden was quickest to the rebound to smash home the equaliser.
Cottesmore complete their home campaign on Saturday with an Ancaster Cup semi-final clash against Boston League side Pointon at Westray Park (3pm).
They will be missing top scorer Pope for the last four clash with the winners meeting either Stamford Bels or Rippingale in the final on Saturday, May 11.
Cottesmore: Hotson, Richards, L Smith, Hamnett (Wilke), Cropper, Dawson (Mellor), Bendle, Sabberton (Lomas), J Smith, Pope, Seals.