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Striker Tom Pope pledges commitment to Cottesmore cause before scoring late winner in Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division victory over Sileby Town

Free-scoring frontman Tom Pope confirmed his commitment to the Cottesmore cause by scoring a late winner as the Rutland side sank Sileby Town in Saturday's Leicestershire Senior League clash.

Pope - whose last-gasp clincher was his second goal in the 4-3 success - has been the subject of two seven-day approaches from higher level United Counties League clubs.

But the in-form striker - who has scored 10 goals in nine games this season - has rejected both offers in favour of staying at Westray Park.

Tom Pope (19866758)
Tom Pope (19866758)

Manager Rich Giblin explained: "We've had two approaches from United Counties League clubs for Tom, but he wants to stay and play his football at Cottesmore which is a good sign of what we're trying to do here.

"There was no doubt in his decision either. I rang him up, but he said straight away that he wanted to stay.

"We have got players who can play at a higher level, but they have all bought into what we're trying to do at the club.

"Tom's winning goal on Saturday was a real thunderbolt - I think their keeper started diving after the ball had hit the back of the net.

"When you've got players like that in your team, you're always going to have a chance of winning games.

"It's testament to him as a player that he had five shots on Saturday - two of which were goals, one hit the post and another brought a great save out of their keeper."

Saturday's success took Cottesmore up fourth place in the Premier Division standings after a fine performance against traditionally strong opposition.

They twice had to battle back in the second half after going behind before Pope's late winner sparked a sense of deja-vu in the Sileby ranks after they had been beaten by a last-gasp Tom Bendle goal in last season's match at Westray Park.

Giblin added: "It was a good game and Sileby are always a good side. I've never known them to have a weak team.

"They posed a challenge so we did well to overcome it. It was a hard-fought game which came down to who wanted it most and it showed the character of our players that we ground out the win after twice failing behind."

Cottesmore had changed their formation for the game by going with four at the back and, although they again conceded three goals, Giblin felt these were the product of two individual errors and a soft penalty.

They had started well and Colton Cropper's cross from the left was picked up by Jordan Smith who centred for Pope to head home the opening goal.

Danny Seals scored Cottesmore's third goal after being sin-binned. (19866928)
Danny Seals scored Cottesmore's third goal after being sin-binned. (19866928)

This seemed to spark Sileby into life after a lack-lustre start and they were rewarded for a decent spell with an equaliser.

A mix-up at the far post involving goalkeeper Jonny Hotson and Bendle saw the ball hooked back in for a close range tap-in.

Pope brought the best out of the Sileby goalkeeper who produced a superb stop from his 20-yard effort that looked destined for the top corner.

He then fizzed another effort across goal which hit the far post before rolling back across the line and into the goalkeeper's grateful hands.

Sileby also enjoyed plenty of the game in an end-to-end contest and they took the lead for the first time after the break when former Bourne Town striker Mark Tinsley pounced on a defensive error to score.

Cottesmore hit back straight away though and were soon back on level terms when James Waby's lofted cross looped up high into the top corner of the Sileby net.

The hosts then suffered a setback when Danny Seals was sin-binned for 10 minutes, but they dug deep to keep Sileby at bay.

However, despite Seals' return to the action, Sileby did seize the initiative again with a generously-awarded penalty following a foul by Harry Sabberton which was duly despatched despite Hotson getting a strong hand on the spot kick.

Cottesmore rallied again though and restored parity when skipper Smith's cross found an unmarked Seals at the back post and he powered home his header to make it 3-3.

Pope then produced an 85th winner as he jinked past a defender to create space before smashing home an unstoppable effort from 20 yards.

Cottesmore: Hotson, Waby, Denigan, L Smith, Bendle, Sabberton, Lomas, Seals, J Smith, Cropper, Pope. Subs all used: McJanet, Preira, Robson.

Cottesmore are in Leicestershire Senior Cup action tonight (Tuesday) when they travel to United Counties League Division One side St Andrews.

They will be without Seals, Luke Smith and Adam Lomas while Eathan Milne and Darren Wilke both missed Saturday's success through injury.

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