Saturday 9th September 2023
UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE
SPORTSGROUND DEVELOPMENT KO CUP
CLIFTON ALL WHITES V COGENHOE UNITED
The Cooks make their first ever trip to Clifton All Whites after being drawn away to the Division One side as we kick-off our Knock-Out Cup campaign on Saturday. The Nottingham suburb may be better known for Jake Bugg than its football club, but All Whites are coming of age this season with a great start that sees them one place below the play-offs with games in hand on all five clubs above them. They have tasted defeat just once so far this season and that came on the opening day when they went down 4-3 at fellow Nottingham club Dunkirk, but that was followed up by four successive home wins. Selston (2-0), Holwell Sports (2-1), Asfordby (4-1) and Lutterworth Athletic (3-1) mean they are still 100% at Green Lane, while they were held 1-1 at Radford last time out with an injury time equaliser ending their four-game winning streak. Kyle Strevell had given All Whites the lead on 28 minutes, but Jevin Seaton struck very late on to rob them of two points. Solace Osarugue Uyi-Okye leads the scoring charts at Clifton with seven from six so far as his team look for their highest ever finish after ending in 11th and 12th in their first two seasons in the UCL. They came through the Notts Alliance (which is where they were when I visited them many years ago), then the Notts Senior League which replaced the Alliance, before competing in the East Midlands Counties League which was itself merged into the UCL Division One in the restructure three years ago.
The Cooks go into the game in fine form having won their last three games to make it four unbeaten, with the 3-2 win over then leaders Racing Club Warwick being their best result of the season so far, whilst they have only been beaten once so far over 90 minutes, so with confidence high in both camps, this has all the makings of a good cup tie.
Biff took a mix-and-match team over to Moulton College on Monday evening to play AFC Rushden & Diamonds U23 Scholars with the game ending one-apiece. He had arranged this friendly fixture to give some action to the players who haven’t been getting a full 90 minutes recently and to have a look at the young players he has signed on, but have yet to feature, with a sprinkling of trialists to finish things off. Keepers Adam North and Dean Love played half a game each, while we saw starts for Damian Osoimoejiokhian, Josh Barnes, Sonny Knights, Reece Irwin, Stan Channell, Jamie Hall, James Rossek, Kieron Mobbs, Dennis Nkrumah and a defensive trialist called Patrick who has recently moved to Northamptonshire. Earl Atat, Ben Dimond, Tommy Curry and Louie Diamond all joined the play for the second half. The Diamonds featured current Cooks Lewis Green, Cal Farmer and Dylan Carlin in their team, while former players Ben Gough and Kodi Briggs lined up against their old gaffer.
The game was a little bitty as you would expect with Diamonds just starting to prepare for their National Youth League season and the Cooks eleven playing together for the first time with this line-up, but it was a good work out for both managers. Damian O forced a good save from a free-kick that we probably should have followed up on while Channell fired over after a great ball from Nkrumah, but it remained goalless at the break. Diamonds six-foot plus striker named Dean opened the scoring on 68 minutes when he used his height to stretch and get a touch with his head in the centre from a right wing cross, but the Cooks continued to look for an equaliser with Channell firing just wide from 25-yards. Controversy followed when Damian O forced another good save from a free-kick, but this time Curry was on the rebound only to have his legs whipped from underneath him on the edge pf the 6-yard box. The referee said no penalty and Diamonds broke away with Ijah Augustine heading a great chance wide down the other end. But the incident wasn’t over as Curry swore at the official through frustration of what looked like a stonewall penalty not being given and promptly received a red card. Nkrumah made a great driving run into the box before being denied by the keeper, but with four minutes remaining, Stan Channell turned inside from the left before curling a powerful shot beyond the keeper and it crashed in off the far post to earn the Cooks a draw. They had to thank Love though for keeping it that way though. as he made a great save at his near post to turn a powerful shot over the top with what proved to be the final kick of the game.