A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF COGENHOE UNITED FIRST TEAM.
Darren Long and Steve Ganley had been in charge since Craig Adams departure for personal reasons in mid-September and we sat in 11th place in the table when we entertained high-flying Newport Pagnell Town to kick off 2022. We had already won 3-1 at their place and we repeated the feat at Compton Park, despite falling behind inside the first 4 minutes to a Danny Webb effort. A Tom Wakley double had turned things around before the break and Ryan Archer added our third six minutes from time to round off an excellent start to the New Year. Sadly we couldn’t keep this up as we travelled to Potton despite Rico Alexander giving us the lead into the break. The Cooks skipper joined the elite club to have scored for both teams in a game as his own goal drew the host’s level within a minute of the restart and Sam Dowridge smashed home from the penalty spot to secure the points for the Royals in a disappointing second half for the Cooks. The home game against Rugby ended in defeat as half-time sub Max Johnson netted the only goal of the game on 54 minutes and next up was a trip to unbeaten Hinckley LRFC, who in fact still held a 100% record in the league. The midweek departure of leading scorer Dylan Wilson to Daventry Town was another pre-match blow to Darren, but he was quietly confident before the game, but I doubt even he could have predicted the start we had to the game. Kicking with the strong wind at our backs we took an early lead through Alexander on 2 minutes and continued to press which lead to a second from Archie Elmore with just 6 minutes played. We were taking the game to Hinckley, but the home side pulled one back through Callum Earls on 17 minutes and things seemed a little more ominous. Wakley popped up to add a third goal a minute before the break to make it a very happy half-time for the Cogenhoe faithful, although we now had to play into the wind for the second half. It was mainly Hinckley, but they weren’t using the wind to their advantage in the way the Cooks had, although Tom Smith pulled one back for them on 55 minutes to reduce the lead to a single goal again. We defended well and looked to hit them on the break, which is exactly what Wakley did seven minutes from time as he got the better of his marker inside their half and broke through to beat Will Highland to bag his second goal of the game and seal a 4-2 win for the Cooks. A very happy way to end the month.
January P4 W2 D0 L2 F8 A6
The Cooks made in two in a row as Wakley struck twice in the second half to see off Biggleswade United at Second Meadow, before our first trip to the Butts Park Arena ended level. Loan player De Mulder Ashton put Coventry United in front on 30 minutes with a shot from distance, but Elmore levelled three minutes before the break to earn a share of the spoils. The third and final game of the month saw the Cooks edge past Rothwell Corinthians 2-1 at Compton Park. Wakley gave the Cooks the lead and despite the visitors conjuring up an equaliser, Elmore popped up with the winning goal with five minutes left to play and we ended February unbeaten.
February P3 W2 D1 L0 F5 A2
Starting with an odd number of teams in the division and then the resignation of Peterborough Northern Star meant a stop-start feeling to the second half of the season which resulted in just three games in the month for the second time running. A midweek trip to face a very good Coventry Sphinx team who had third spot on their radar, proved an even more difficult task with a number of players missing. These included the up to now ever-present goalkeeper Craig Foxall, who had been brilliant for us throughout the season so far, which meant a baptism of fire for youth keeper Ben Westwood. Another of the absentees was the now leading scoring Tom Wakley and our somewhat inexperienced squad were beaten 5-0 on the day, our biggest defeat of the season. It had been scoreless up until the 37th minute when Loz Rawlings broke the deadlock and we were dealt a lethal blow when Callum Stewart added a second in first-half stoppage time. Stewart, who was to net 40 goals by the end of the season, went on to celebrate a hat-trick before Matty Shipman rounded the scoring off late on with his side’s fifth of the night. Another long gap followed before we faced Welllingborough under the Compton Park lights and another defeat followed, albeit a lot closer this time. All the Doughboys goals came from former Cooks players as a worldy from Carter Price had given them the lead on 20 minutes, only for Wakley to level on 29. Tom Iaciofano came back to haunt us after the break with two goals, one from the spot after he himself had been brought down, before a very dubious penalty decision allowed Wakley to bag his second to make it interesting again nine minutes from time, but in truth the visitors deserved to take all three points from the game. Last up and another evening game saw us draw 2-2 with relegation threatened Bugbrooke St Michaels at Compton Park. For the second game running the visitors goals were both scored by former Cognehoe players as Ben Drinkwater gave the visitors the lead before Wakley turned things around with yet another double. Two points were snatched off late on though as Joe Power struck in 88th minute, leaving us winless in March.
March P3 W0 D1 L2 F4 A10
Gone are the days of the league season ending well into May, so it was to be a five game month for the Cooks as they looked to end the season on a high with seventh place a realistic target to aim for. It didn’t start well though as were beaten 2-1 at home by a workmanlike Godmanchester Rovers. Young starlet Luca Iaciofano scored his first goal for the first team, adding to the many he had netted for the U18s and Reserves in a great season for the youngster, but Alfie Warman and sub Danny Baulk with a late penalty gave the visitors the spoils. Dan Mortimer had been tasked with facing the penalty after keeper Foxall had been sent to the sin-bin, but we really should have got a point from this game with Jack Riley giving away a needless late penalty. A trip to G.N.G Oadby Town was a real damp squib for the Cooks, even though we returned home with a point. The hosts were well out of form and Elmore missed from the penalty spot early on, then Andre Williams gave the home side the lead after 9 minutes. Ryan Archer finally put us level on 51 minutes, but we failed to find the winning goal as the game petered out. Things went from bad to worse as the season continued to fizzle out when Long Buckby came to the village. It all started well as a great finish from Josh Adams gave us a deserved lead on 14 minutes, but Baillie O’Reilly cancelled this out on the break nine minutes later. The Cooks turned the screw now and further goals from Elmore (27) and Bates (31) put us in charge and we could have had a couple more before the break had we taken our chances. The second-half saw a lethargic Cogenhoe seemedly going through the motions believing the points to be safe against a struggling side, but that is not the way things panned out. Leo Stone pulled one back on 65 minutes and two minutes Tom Bishop levelled the scores up at 3-3. We had to start playing again, but Buckby had the momentum and when sub Carrick Bromage put them ahead on 84 minutes we had no answer. Next up was another home game under the lights with local rivals O.N Chenecks fighting for their lives at the bottom. After a close first half that ended goalless, the visitors hunger saw them strike twice inside a minute as Lewis Irwin (55) and former Cook Gohkan Ulker (56) gave Chenecks the advantage and when Mitch Sharp added a third on 70 minutes we were well beaten, although Bates did pull one goal back deep into stoppage time. The final game of the season came at Lutterworth Town, who were celebrating Josh Dixon’s final game in charge at Kong Park after taking them from local football up to step five. The day belonged to the Cooks though, who were the better team throughout as Wakley netted two more goals, with Iaciofano and Archer bringing our tally to four. Marshal Keenan did hit the target for the Swifts, but it was the Cooks who finished the season on a high with a 4-1 away win. That disappointing run of seven games without a win meant an eleventh place finish for the Cooks, but we had plenty of positives from what was a very young squad.
April P5 W1 D1 L3 F10 A11
It came as a real shock when it was announced that Scott Carlin had been appointed as the new first team manager as we had been expecting Long and Ganley to continue to build their young squad into the new season. Carling brought ten years experienced as a coach at higher-grade AFC Rushden & Diamonds and has a great knowledge of local football and he brought Andy Batty in as his assistant with Ryan Farmer joining Ganley on the coaching staff. Ganley was to depart before the season got underway though as he took up similar position at newly promoted Harborough Town, whilst the ousted Long joined up with another former Cooks manager Gary Petts at Moulton. Only a handful of last season’s squad played a part in the Cooks first friendly of the season on the back pitch at Compton Park as Irchester United were defeated 2-1.
Pre-season was well underway with an influx of new players joining the club, most of which being part of Carlin’s AFC Rushden & Diamonds U23 squad, plus a few players from local football, most of which would be stepping up to a level they hadn’t competed at before. Just one defeat, away at step three Tamworth, plus a NFA Senior Cup game that ended in defeat on penalties (although we were to be reinstated later as Diamonds had fielded an ineligible player) after a 1-1 draw. Alex Parkes netting our first competitive goal of the new era. The league started on the final Saturday of June with a trip to Rugby Town and despite a spirited performance and an early penalty lead through Elmore, we were beaten 2-1 as Ryan Seal and Justin Marsden outweighed his penalty. Twelve players made their league debuts for the Cooks at Butlin Road, with just Josh Adams, new skipper Paddy Cichosz, Archie Elmore and Jessi Obeng having featured the previous season.
July P2 W0 D1 L1 F2 A3
A home game with Bugbrooke kicked off the new month and it was the Badgers who sneaked a 1-0 thanks to a Kevin Shehi goal on 66 minutes. The goal coming after Brad Marshall had picked up his second yellow card nine minutes previous. The F.A Cup gave us a home tie against Stone Old Alleynians and we were disappointed not to have beaten them after taking the lead through Jessi Obeng on 34 minutes, but Tom Harley’s second half equaliser meant we were heading to Stoke-on-Trent the following Tuesday night. We fell behind to a Sam Wilson goal on 10 minutes, but Mitch White levelled the game four minutes into the second half. We were totally dominated the game and looked like we would score at any minute when a complete howler at the back saw Stone skipper Matt Thomas left to roll the ball into an empty net ten minutes from time to secure his side a 2-1 win. To add insult to injury, Cooks scorer White was shown the red card following a late flare-up by the corner flag. An absolute cracker of a game followed as we drew 3-3 at home to G.N.G Oadby Town. Obeng gave us an early lead, but Suli Nassor and Nye Patel swung the game in favour of the Leicester club. Bates levelled things up on 38 minutes, then Bates again put the Cooks infront within a minute of the restart. The game could easily have gone either way, but Musa Bham’s strike was enough to earn his side a share of the points. The first win of the season came at Rothwell Corinthians as second half goals from Obeng and Pharrell Anderson gave us a 2-0 victory, then we met again seven days later, this time in the F.A Vase at Compton Park. The 3-2 scoreline probably flattered the visitors as Cooks dominated large spells of the game, but goals from Anderson, an own goal from Conor Bird and a debut goal from sub Josh Jones saw us home. Marcel Rzeszutek and a stoppage time goal from Jurelle Phillip made the score look a little more respectable for Corinthians. The month ended with a midweek trip to Eynesbury and a point from a 1-1 draw. Anderson’s penalty put us in front on 15 minutes, but Josh Page’s free-kick on 31 meant things ended all square.
August P7 W2 D2 L3 F11 A10
The new month started off with a great result at fourth place Coventry United. Ben Gough’s looping header had given us the lead on quarter of an hour and Obeng slotted home the second on the break after being set up by Iaciofano with 15 minutes left. It was deep into stoppage time when Jacob Williams reduced the arrears, but it was too late to stop the Cooks winning 2-1. A midweek trip to Milton Keynes Irish on an increasingly wet night saw nine goals in a topsy-turvy game that saw the Cooks lose 5-4. Luke McDonald opened the scoring from close range on 11 minutes, but goals from Powfil Raposo (24) and Ryan Smith two minutes later swung the game around. Obeng drew the Cooks level two minutes later and Josh Jones netted a great goal to put the Cooks back in front, but it was 3-3 on 42 minutes as Andre Olukanmi made us pay for a slip at the back and then Matt Cooke headed the Irish in front a minute before the break. 0-1, 2-1, 2-3, 4-3. Incredible first half. Obeng broke away to net his second to level the scores up at 4-4 with fifteen minutes left, but it was the home side who were celebrating at the final whistle when Smith grabbed his second four minutes from time from the penalty spot. The game the following Saturday had a lot to live up to, but with Long Buckby one of the few teams below us in the table, confidence was pretty high. Just as they had done back in April, Buckby spoiled the Cooks day. Joe Pursey opened the scoring on 36 minutes and Harry Waple-Moors made it 2-0 four minutes later with the scorer of the second goal joining up with the Cooks three months later. Even the sending off of Pursey for two yellow cards (both after being caught out by the pace of Anderson) didn’t inspire the Cooks to find anything like their best form as former Cooks reserves manager Craig Hayward enjoyed his return to Compton Park. The final game of September saw Spartan South Midlands League Division One strugglers come to Cogenhoe in the F.A Vase and in a fairly close game, the Cooks just about deserved their 2-0 win. Bates (13) and Anderson (76) from the penalty spot seeing the Cooks through to the next round.
September P4 W2 D0 L2 F8 A8
The ultimate in ‘game of two halves’ followed at Easington Sports when the Cooks totally dominated the first half, but couldn’t find the vital breakthrough, whilst Sports did the same in the second. The main difference was they managed to score twice through George Coombes and Jack Fountain. The League Cup returned after a three years gap due to Covid and the Cooks were given a home draw against Division One strugglers Rainworth Miners Welfare. The Cooks were really quickly out of the blocks and took the lead on 2 minutes when Jamie Hall opened his account for the club. The Cooks stepped up a gear after the restart as Obeng made it two on 47 minutes, Luca Purse headed home his first Cogenhoe goal on 66 and Jones rounded off the scoring five minutes from time. Desborough at home followed on the Tuesday night as we re-entered the NFA Senior Cup due to Diamonds oversight. Former Cooks player Dennis Nkrumah came off the bench to put the visitors ahead on 77 minutes, but a great breakaway goal netted by Anderson with four minutes left took the tie to penalties. This time the Cooks held their nerve as Ash Bodycote saved three penalties to help his team go through 4-3. It was back to the league the following Saturday with a home game against the new look Lutterworth Town. Anderson gave us the lead on 9 minutes as we used the wind to our advantage, but Dion Tansey-Potter drew the Swifts level 26 minutes in. Obeng then struck at the double on 32 and 42 minutes to take the Cooks into the break with a 3-1 lead. Nuno Gomes Monteiro pulled one back on 54 minutes, but the Cooks defended resolutely to keep the visitors at bay, that is until the final minute when Jordan Small netted from a corner to make the final score 3-3. The Vase experienced continued with a trip to Midland League Division One side Hinckley AFC in what proved to be a controversial first half. An unfortunate own goal saw us go behind in the second minute, but McDonald netted at the far post to level the scores on 16 minutes from a superb Anderson cross. We appeared to have taken the lead when Purse’s effort hit the wheel situated well over the line before coming back into play and we had another ‘goal’ ruled out for an alleged foul on the keeper. Lewis Collins had an easy finish at the far post to put the home side back in front around the half-hour mark, then Chandler Pegg made it 3-1 with a freaky goal that somehow looped up in the air and dropped over Regan Saunt’s head. The second half was a completely different game with very few chances for either side compared to the end-to-end stuff in the first forty-five minutes. The only goal came to the hosts with just over an hour of the game played as Lewis Rankine’s shot deflected over the keeper and into the back of the net. The final game of the month was another cup game, this time in League Cup and another home draw against a struggling Division One team. West Bridgford were pretty much brushed aside in the opening 14 minutes as the Cooks raced into a three goal lead, although the visitors did pull one back before the break. Hall opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Louie Barrett got his first goal for the club four minutes later with a powerful strike. A great finish from Kodi Briggs saw him open his account after 14 minutes, but Bridgford did get themselves going and Aboubacar Sylla reduced the arrears on 35. The second half failed to live up to the first, although Adams made the final score 4-1 two minutes into stoppage time.
October P6 W4 D1 L1 F13 A11
November kicked off with the Cooks first home league win of the season, a 2-1 success over Godmanchester in a game switched to Friday night. Johnny Hall sliced the ball past his own keeper on 8 minutes, but he had redeemed himself when he scored at the right end just before the break. Luca Purse turned out to be the match winner when he headed home from a corner fourteen minutes from time. The Cooks took their good form all the way to Boston Town in the next round of the League Cup and advanced to the quarter-finals thanks to Obeng’s cool finish on 78 minutes. It was a very good all round performance for the Cooks and a clean sheet for reserve keeper Ciaran Wells too. The three match winning streak came to an end at Newport Pagnell where the home side were awarded three penalties in the game. It was a much changed Cogenhoe team as we were missing all of AFC Rushden & Diamonds boys who had played for their academy side on the Friday afternoon. The first spot-kick was saved by Bodycote but Albie Hall gave the Swans the lead with the second on 35 minutes. Their lead was short lived though as Bates netted three minutes later. The game was still nip-and-tuck though even after Ben Ford fired Pagnell ahead on 57 minutes, then the home side were reduced to ten men after Christian Smail had picked up his second yellow card on 64 minutes. The Cooks pushed for an equaliser, but a third penalty in stoppage time saw Kieran Barnes end their hopes of a point. One of the games of the season followed as we entertained high-flying Coventry Sphinx and took a 2-0 lead into the break. Bates opened the scoring from outside the box on 36 minutes and a brilliantly executed lob from Anderson doubled the lead five minutes later. Sphinx pulled one back through Dylan Parker on 55 minutes and they drew level through Shipman on 61. The Cooks were not down though and a beauty from 25-yards out from Bates saw us back in front thee minutes later. The lead was short lived though, as Shipman grabbed his second and the visitors took the points thanks a late strike from Louis Guest. 3-4 the final result, but a great performance from the Cooks who hadn’t looked like a team at the wrong end of the table on this Saturday afternoon.
November P4 W2 D0 L2 F7 A8
Bad weather was to take its hold on the country meaning we played only two games in December. The first was a very disappointing outcome from our first trip to G.N.G’s new Riverside Ground. The first seven minutes were great from a Cogenhoe point of view as we tested the keeper several times before Anderson made the breakthrough, but we were never to recapture the momentum of those opening minutes and finally succumbed 3-1. Lamar Parkes levelled on 20 minutes then a wonder-strike from Musa Bham saw us slip behind less than twenty seconds into the second half. Ryan Robbins made sure with the third goal on 75 minutes to make it an afternoon to forget for the Cooks. The final game of 2022 came at Compton Park on Boxing Day and ended in a 1-1 draw with Wellingborough Town. The game never really got going, but after Bodycote had kept us in the game in the first half, Bates fired in another beauty from 25-yards a minute after the restart. Both sides had players sent-off in the second half, Luke Andrews for the Cooks, before Charlie Green headed home an equaliser in the 89th minute.
P2 W0 D1 L1 F2 A4.
PLAYED 40 WON 15 DREW 8 LOST 17 SCORED 70 CONCEDED 73
TOM WAKLEY 13
JESSI OBENG 11
WILL BATES 9
PHARRELL ANDERSON 7
ARCHIE ELMORE 5
RYAN ARCHER 3
JOSH JONES 3
RICO ALEXANDER 2
LUCA IACIOFANO 2
JOSH ADAMS 2
JAMIE HALL 2
LUCA PURSE 2
LUKE McDONALD 2
LOUIE BARRETT 1
KODI BRIGGS 1
BEN GOUGH 1
ALEX PARKES 1
MITCH WHITE 1
This is of course still unwritten and firmly in our own hands. We have two cup semi-finals to look forward to. Kettering Town at home in the NFA Senior Hillier Cup and Deeping Rangers away in the League KO Cup, but as it stands we are looking at the prospect of a relegation battle in the league, something we haven’t seen at the club for many years. Scott Carlin hasn’t been helped by the fact that he has rarely, if at all, been able to put the same team out two games running which makes it difficult to find any consistency on the field.