Reserves stage fantastic fightback as late double earns a point
Cottesmore Amateurs boss Rich Giblin has set his side a 40-point target for the season after they extended their unbeaten run with a fourth successive draw on Saturday.
Amateurs have now gone nine league and cup games without defeat, although six of those have been stalemates following Saturday’s 2-2 draw at FC Khalsa.
They had to battle against the odds of losing influential duo Danny Seals and Jordan Smith inside the opening 20 minutes of the Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division clash on an unfamiliar 3G surface at the Mary Linwood Ground in Leicester.
But a debut goal from new signing Aaron Hart and a late leveller from substitute Adam Lomas left Giblin happy to pocket another point.
He said: “It was a good point. We were up against a side who play regularly and train on a 3G so they knew how to use it.
“We had to adapt to the surface so I was happy with a point because it’s a tough to place to go.
“We had to replace both Danny and Jordan inside the opening 20 minutes after going behind early on so the boys really had to dig their way out of it.
“It’s another game unbeaten. It puts us on 29 points with six matches left and I’ve told the boys I want us to reach 40 points.
“We’re not going to win every game so I’ve got to be realistic, but three wins and a draw would nearly do it for us.
“We’ve got to aim for something and I want to finish as high up the league as we can and keep building for next season.”
Amateurs were boosted ahead of Saturday’s clash with the acquisition of Oakham-based Hart who has been playing for Evo-Stik League Division One East side Wisbech Town.
The former Peterborough United youngster was introduced as an early replacement for Seals and he got Cottesmore back on level terms after Khalsa’s opener.
Giblin explained: “Aaron’s good friends with Ben Richards and wants to see the season out with us. He did very well on Saturday.
“He’s been playing at Step Four for most of this year so we’ll see what happens next season, but his attitude was spot on and it’s nice that we’re attracting these type of players.”
Cottesmore had fielded the same starting line-up as the previous week for the first time in months, but they found themselves trailing after just two minutes with a well-executed opening goal for the hosts.
They rallied with Hart and Eathan Milne replacing the injured Seals and Smith and levelled towards the end of the first half when Tom Atkins picked the ball up on the halfway line and burst forward to beat three players before teeing up Hart to score.
However, Amateurs were unable to stay on level terms for long as Khalsa regained the lead before half-time when a free-kick went straight through Cottesmore’s defensive wall to leave goalkeeper Jonny Hotson with no chance.
This sparked a switch to a 3-5-2 formation for the second half as Cottesmore aimed to improve their ball retention.
Khalsa created the better openings in the second period with Hotson producing a superb save to deny the hosts in a one-on-one before capping an excellent performance with a terrific tip onto the crossbar.
Cottesmore kept plugging away though and were rewarded with 10 minutes remaining as Atkins was again the instigator with his ball across finding substitute Lomas to fire home the equaliser.
Amateurs: Hotson, L Smith, Hamnett, Mellor, Richards, Atkins, Bendle, Robson (Lomas), Seals (Hart), J Smith (Milne), Pope. Sub not used: Cropper.
Cottesmore are back in action at Westray Park on Saturday when they entertain Barlestone St Giles looking to avenge a 4-1 away reversal earlier in the season.
They are hoping striker Harry Stannard will be back in the squad after injury, but are likely to be missing Colton Cropper, Jack Mellor, Seals and Jake Robson.
Cottesmore Reserves produced a rousing finale to earn a share of the spoils following a 3-3 home draw with Friar Lane and Epworth on Saturday.
Amateurs had got back on level terms after falling behind to Friar Lane’s first half opener in the Leicestershire Senior League Division Two tussle at Westray Park.
However, the visitors quickly regained the advantage to take a 3-1 lead into the latter stages where Cottesmore scored twice to pocket a deserved point.
After an impressive performance last weekend in the 2-0 home win over FC GNG Development, Cottesmore began where they had left off by creating a flurry of early chances but they were unable to find a way past an inspired Friar Lane goalkeeper.
Harry Sabberton was again influential going forward with Ben Dawson and Lee Wood industrious in the centre of the park.
They looked in control of the contest, however, it was Friar Lane who took the lead with a burst down to the left-hand byline which saw the ball cut back for the striker to flick home.
Jamie Hunt and Tyler Smith both went close to levelling before the break, but Cottesmore went in at the interval a goal adrift.
Friar Lane had the better of the opening exchanges in the second half, but were unable to convert their chances which allowed Cottesmore to equalise as Hunt poked home Dawson’s cross after a goalmouth scramble.
The equaliser sparked Friar Lane back into life and they headed home from a setpiece to restore their advantage.
A third goal followed soon after which looked to have put the contest beyond Cottesmore’s reach.
But joint manager Simon Richards switched to a 3-5-2 formation and Cottesmore started to dominate in the final third.
They reduced the arrears after breaking forward from a corner and Smith’s slide-rule pass to the back post was converted by Nathan Gray.
With Cottesmore pushing further forward in search of an equaliser, Friar Lane could have added a fourth but were denied by a fine double save from Nathan Clare.
And this laid the foundations for a late leveller as Wood collected the ball on the edge of the Friar Lane penalty area and curled a sublime finish into the top corner.
Cottesmore still had time to force a flurry of corners and Sabberton came close to snatching the victory for the hosts only to narrowly miss out on connecting with Dawson’s cross at the far post.