NICO Watson struck late on to give Uttoxeter Juniors victory over Rolleston in a seven-goal thriller.
Juniors coach Leon Scallan said: "it was a great team effort and nice to see the smile back on the players faces. We tried to keep playing football and in the end they got their just rewards.”
Fellow coach Ant Rowley added: “Every player deserves a pat on the back. Again we had a few players playing in positions that they have not played in and they appeared to enjoy them. We have a superb squad and, although some players may not agree, it’s good to try and move them around.’
“We deserved this win after a very tough September and not having a full squad to pick from.
With Evans suspended Matthew Hollins took over goalkeeping duty – and what a performance he enjoyed.
From the off Juniors produced some neat quick passing before the ball was played back by Corey McLaughlin into the path of Watson who could only guide his shot over the bar.
Hollins was then called upon when to dive full length and finger-tip a shot around the post.
UJ kept trying to play football and got their rewards on 20 minutes. Lewis Hudson played the ball down the left wing to Jack Jeffery who controlled before skipping past his marker.
Jeffery then played the ball inside to Hickey who instantly played in Fletcher Rushton.
Rushton went past a Rolleston defender then picked out Watson on the right hand side. Watson shot past his marker before playing the ball in to the penalty area where McLaughlin made a nuisance of himself in the danger area and the ball bounced out towards the left hand side where Jeffery pounced to hammer the loose ball home.
Rolleston went straight on the attack and the ball was played directly through the centre of the UJ defence but the Rolleston forward could only strike wide of goal
Hollins tried to play the ball from the back and found his captain Jack Scallan, who was playing at right-back. But a Rolleston player closed him down quickly before winning the tackle and heading straight for goal. He danced past anther UJ defender before placing the ball into the back of the net.
In reply Henry Hymas received the ball on the right wing from Jordan Hickey before he attacked his full-back. He skipped past him and played a superb ball into the danger area where Watson struck a superb shot that forced the Rolleston keeper to make a terrific one-handed save.
Rolleston then attacked the UJ goal, playing the ball down the UJ left flank. The ball was crossed into the danger area where Benedict Green headed clear.
The ball bounced just in front of a Rolleston player who volleyed back towards goal. The ball looking destined for the net before Hollins pulled out a world class save – catching the ball in full flight.
With confidence growing UJ attacked down the right. Scallan played the ball down the line for Hymas to attack his defender. He turned him one way then the other and when he went to cross the ball another defender deflected it out for a corner. Scallan played the ball into the penalty area and Thomas Dee powered a header that flew into the net.
After the break Brandon Alkins won a great tackle just inside his own half before playing a superb ball down the left wing for Jeffery to run onto. Jeffery’s first touch took him away from his marker before he played the ball into the danger area for Dee to strike a right-footed shot that skimmed the outside of the Rolleston post.
Against the run of play Rolleston equalised when they played the ball quickly down their left wing and the winger cut inside his marker before striking a superb shot high into the net.
UJ then started to panic a little and the ball became a hot potato with every player kicking it away as soon as it came to them. After a lot of shouting from coaches Rowley and Scallan the team settled down again and attacked down their left.
Johnson played a neat pass to Rushton who went past his marker then slipped the ball into the path of Rowley.
Rowley turned back inside and played to Dee who struck a superb shot that forced the Rolleston keeper to dive low down to his left and push the ball out for a corner. McLaughlin took the corner and his cross cannoned off the top of the crossbar before being headed clear.
Rolleston then looked like they had stolen the win when they played the ball through the centre of the pitch before a player struck a speculative effort that somehow rolled just inside Hollins' right-hand post.
With time running out Green won a tackle on the edge of his own penalty area, then played down the centre for Watson to guide into the path of Hickey.
He instantly found Rushton just outside the Rolleston penalty area. Rushton moved inside the are before being taken out by one of the Rolleston players to win a penalty.
Rushton picked himself up and placed the ball to the Rolleston keeper's left for 3-3.
With time running out Hudson played the ball down the left wing for McLaughlin to run onto. He danced back inside his marker before striking a powerful shot hard and low which the Rolleston keeper palmed the ball away.
Rushton got to the loose ball quickest and squared it to Watson who hammered back towards goal. The ball struck a defender before coming back to Rushton whose superb shot flew high into the roof of the net.