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Amateurs stretch unbeaten run to 14 games after derby victory

Tom Pope produced a five-star performance as Cottesmore hit derby rivals Asfordby for six in Tuesday night's Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division clash at Westray Park.

Pope plundered five goals in the 6-2 success as Cottesmore stretched their unbeaten run to 14 Premier Division games with an emphatic victory.

Rich Giblin's side produced a devastating first half display to lead 4-1 at the interval after playing out the manager's game-plan to perfection to move up to seventh spot in the league table.

Manager Rich Giblin (9072856)
Manager Rich Giblin (9072856)

Giblin said: "It was a good performance and it was pleasing to race into that early lead. We did the job in the first half-an-hour.

"The game-plan was to come out and play fast, quick tempo football. We knew we had the legs on them up top so that's why we started to play wide early doors and it worked.

"It was a good team performance. It's exactly what we said we would do before the game.

"We wanted to play it as a normal league game even though it's a local derby. We knew it would be a bit tasty at times, but both sides played the game in a good spirit and we've come out on top which is good.

"It was very pleasing. The boys have done well and have really managed the game."

Cottesmore were ahead inside the opening the two minutes of the derby duel as Pope started his personal goalscoring spree by latching onto a long ball over the top before slotting home.

However, the lead was short-lived as Asfordby responded almost immediately with Liam Chapman clinically converting a cross from the right to level the scores.

But parity didn't last for long as Aaron Hart was then upended by Asfordby goalkeeper Lewis Spencer and Pope successfully converted his second consecutive spot kick after scoring the winner in Saturday's home victory over Ellistown.

Hart then pulled up with a hamstring injury, which looks likely to bring his season to an early end, but his replacement Tom Atkins was quick to take over the attacking mantle as Cottesmore continued to create chances.

Atkins was denied by Spencer after a pacy run and shot before Ben Richards sent a header narrowly over the crossbar.

Adam Lomas then produced a surging run and cross which was clipped against the crossbar by Jordan Smith before Pope saw a stinging goalbound shot deflected wide - by team-mate Atkins.

Jonny Hotson in the home goal made a timely save with a smart stop to thwart Jamie Felstead before Cottesmore hit their visitors with another two-goal whammy in quick succession.

Pope completed his hat-trick after converting Atkins' through ball with aplomb before Jordan Smith's slick short corner picked out Cottesmore's top goalscorer who rifled home his and Amateurs' fourth goal of the night.

Tom Pope (9072872)
Tom Pope (9072872)

Jordan Smith then saw a long range effort tipped against the post by Spencer as Cottesmore continued their impressive first half showing.

They again picked up where they left off after the break by adding a fifth goal through Tom Bendle whose low shot squirmed under Spencer and into the net.

Chances continued to flow for the hosts with Atkins and Richards going close on a number of occassions to increasing the lead.

It was fitting that Pope rounded off their rout in the last minute as he again raced clear and, after missing a similar opportunity moments earlier, this time made no mistake with his fifth goal of the game.

There was still time for Asfordby to grab a second consolation with the final kick of the game as Alex Johnson converted a penalty after Chapman had been upended by Cottesmore substitute Jack Mellor.

Giblin added: "It was disappointing to concede a second goal so late on, but it is what it is and we're also missed a hatful of chances.

"Aaron going off early wasn't ideal. We think he's probably done for the season now, but Tom Atkins has come on and done a lot of running and worked really hard.

"Tom Pope was man-of-the-match by a country mile though. He sets himself really high standards.

"If he's only scored one goal in a game then he's disappointed. He's got five in this game, but would want to score six. He's got a good attitude and we're lucky to have him."

Cottesmore complete their league campaign on Saturday with a home clash against Hathern where victory will secure a sixth place finish.

Giblin added: "We'd like to keep this going until the end of the season, but we are without a couple and I am going to use a couple of the substitutes who didn't get on on Tuesday.

"We've also got one eye on the semi-final of the Ancaster Cup the following weekend against Pointon.

"It's just managing the squad, but the pleasing thing as a manager is that I can put anyone in the squad or starting line-up and they will work hard for you.

"We've got a lot of depth which is probably what we've been lacking in previous seasons."

Cottesmore: Hotson, Richards (Mellor), Cropper, L Smith, Sabberton (Robson), Bendle, J Smith, Hart (Atkins), Pope, Seals, Lomas. Subs not used: Hamnett, Dawson.

Asfordby: Spencer, Wright, Ridout, Hollis, Lapworth, Felstead, Forfar, Rowland, Johnson, Chapman, Weller. Subs: Stapleton, Wright, Mann.

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