A point apiece a fair reflection of the game as we draw 2-2 in the Christmas local derby at O.N Chenecks.
Tuesday 28th December 2021
UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
O.N CHENECKS (1) 2 COGENHOE UNITED (1) 2
Att; © 80
I’m not sure whether Darren Long will have been too full of Christmas spirit on the morning of the match as a series of phone calls saw his matchday squad of 16 seriously depleted as Rico Alexander and Alex Vaughan tested positive for Covid, Paddy Cichosz is out of Isolation but not yet recovered from the effects of coronavirus, Josh Adams was forced to pull out with a very heavy cold as they all added themselves to Ivandro Monteiro on the absence list, whilst Will Bates was hoping to have recovered enough from his groin injury to play. Bates sadly had to pull out during the warm up so Nick Fleming was handed his first game for the first team, whilst Jessi Obeng also stepped up from the reserves with both players playing in unfamiliar roles on the park. Ceepy Logongo also returned to the squad as he continues his recovery from an early season operation after a couple of games for the reserves. Cichosz got off his sick bed though to take his place at the back and given the situation in that position, we certainly owe him one for doing so.
We discussed before the start that this was the sort of game that we really needed to win as Chenecks have only picked up one point at home so far this season and we have our eye on a top half finish, but it was the home side who got off to the better start and could have took the lead inside the first minute as we were caught out by a long ball over the top and Lewis Irwin found himself goal-side of the defence, but he didn’t get hold of his shot at all and Craig Foxall saved comfortably. We have been guilty of over-playing and not clearing our lines quite a lot in recent weeks and we were punished on 3 minutes when Cichosz delayed deep inside his own box and then poked the ball straight to Irwin who hit it first time, again not that cleanly, but it beat Foxall from close range to give Chenecks a gift of an opening goal. Shortly afterwards Luke Davis played a ball over the top for Irwin and again he ran clear, only to hit his shot straight at Foxall as the keeper narrowed the angle.
Cogenhoe finally woke up and Dylan Wilson sent over a great cross from the left that former-Cooks keeper couldn’t get hold of and although it dropped just outside the 6-yard box, Chief Boateng couldn’t get in a shot and the home side managed to clear the ball away from the danger area. A good move involving Archie Culley, Wilson and Obeng saw Wilson win a corner down the left, then Culley went for goal from outside the box, but as it gained height it drifted away as it hit the wind above the hedge at the clubhouse end. Wilson’s pace saw him get to the ball just ahead of veteran Dan Quigley and the Chenecks man sent the Cooks striker flying to earn the game’s first yellow card from referee Sam Lee with just 8 minutes on the clock. Culley’s free-kick saw him roll it back to Archer 25-yards out and he hit his shot well, but couldn’t keep it below bar height. Although Cogenhoe had levelled the play out, Chenecks were still getting forward quickly and both Jack Riley and Fleming made a good interceptions from dangerous positions.
A good interchange between Tom Wakley and Obeng opened up the home defence but the Cooks couldn’t capitalise, then down the other end Irwin set up Stan Channell in a great position but he rolled the ball the wrong side of the post. A free header at the back-post was dealt with well by Foxall just before Obeng played Wilson into the box and although his shot was blocked, it came back to Obeng who hit a great shot that Adamson managed to tip over the bar. Chenecks relief was momentary though as Culley played in the corner from the right and Jack Riley rose to meet it with a great header that beat the keeper and dropped just under the far on the far side. 1-1 with 18 minutes played in this end-to-end local derby.
The pitch was obviously heavy given the amount of rain we have seen lately, but the Cooks were playing some decent football at times and Wilson slipped the ball through to Obeng in the box on the left, but he couldn’t get the ball across the box with blue shirts waiting in front of goal. Great play by Mortimer saw him hold up play on the left before calmly rolling the ball inside to an unmarked Boateng, but he didn’t get a great contact on his shot and it took a deflection off a defender and rolled through to Adamson.
A lovely dinked ball into the box from Chenecks skipper Luke Davis picked out Tyrell Bernard inside the box, but Foxall was quickly off his line and made a great save from the ensuing shot. Quigley robbed Wilson as he got into the box on the left, then Irwin hit a first-time shot from several yards outside the box that flew high and wide of the target. A great run into the box just to the right by Bernard saw him pull the ball back to Channell a few yards out, but he wasted the chance as he screwed his shot badly with the goal gaping in front of him. The Cooks continued the worrying trait of giving the ball away far too regularly, but a positive bit of play saw Fleming make a good run from the back before laying the ball right to Wakley, but his cross was too far in front of Wilson and went across the box and out for a goal-kick. I think pretty much everybody down the side at the opposite end thought Irwin had scored when he lifted his shot over Foxall from 20-yards out, but the ball continued to run onto the second pitch much to the relief of the Cooks supporters.
A good run by Culley saw him find Obeng on the left and he cut inside before trying to curl a shot into the far top corner, but it died into the wind and Adamson caught it cleanly. A good covering header by Riley cleared things up at the back from a big Adamson clearance, then a good touch by Wilson saw Wakley play the ball back to him on the left and he took it to the edge of the box before slipping it back through to pick put Wakley’s run and he tried to slip his shot across Adamson, but the keeper got down to make a save to his left. A Culley corner found its way back to him on the left and he hit a low drive that swerved quite viciously, but Adamson recovered well to save it low at the near post. Another Culley corner was won in the air by Wakley and Obeng turned to hit a good effort that Adamson was forced to push around the near post and Culley’s delivery was excellent, but we failed to attack it on the edge of the 6-yard box and ended up being thankful for some very cool defending from Mortimer as Chenecks broke quickly.
As we headed into the break we could reflect on a few chances that we had, but the reality was the lack of confidence in front of the goal from Chenecks had let us off a number of times and we could easily have conceded four goals during the first 45 minutes.
Half-time; Chenecks 1 Cooks 1
Boateng made way for Archie Elmore at half-time and Mortimer joined them in my notebook as he picked up a yellow card for a foul within a minute of the restart. Ross Garlick had a shot blocked by Culley inside the box as Chenecks started the half on top and during this spell they forced three corners, one cleared, one punched well by Foxall and the final one held well low to the ground by the Cooks keeper. Mortimer got his foot to a ball in from the left and Foxall picked it up with the referee judging it to have been an intentional backpass, thus awarding Chenecks an indirect free-kick deep inside the box. With pretty much everyone lined up on the goal-line, the charge started the moment the ball was touched to Irwin and the striker’s shot was blocked. Fleming marked his debut with a yellow card for a foul on 55 minutes before Cogenhoe almost took the lead. Elmore had received the ball and found Wilson who beat his man before finding Elmore inside the box on the left and he curled a great effort beyond the dive of the keeper, but it also went an inch or so wide of the far post.
Wakley very nearly played Wilson clear but for the outstretched foot of Mitch Sharpe, then Culley played in a good free-kick from the right after Fleming had been fouled by Bernard that the keeper dropped, but Ben Jackson saved his blushes as he hook the ball away for a throw-in. Obeng set up Elmore only for the sub to see his shot blocked and the following corner was curled in on the wind by Culley and it went just wide of the far post with Fleming unable to get to it. Elmore was tripped in a central position just outside the box and he went for goal himself from the free-kick, but his shot struck the ball and went wide for a corner. Chenecks made their first change as Channell made way for Joel McFarlane with 63 minutes played.
Foxall dived bravely at the feet of McFarlane after Irwin had played the ball into his feet just outside the Cooks 6-yard box, then Elmore opened up the visitors with a great ball that would have played Wilson clear had his first touch not been a little heavy and the ball went through to Adamson. Bernard cut in and went for goal, but it lacked any real power and Foxall saved easily before launching a quick ball down the park where Wakley picked up possession before sending Wilson down the right. He played the ball into the middle to Elmore, but he tried to turn and was crowded out with Culley unmarked on the edge of the box desperate for the ball. Foxall took a cross cleanly and played the ball out before Wilson was played in on the left and got himself goalside of Sharpe who pulled him back. The Chenecks left-back was booked for his indiscretion before Culley played over the free-kick that saw Wakley jump bravely amidst three defenders and the ball hit the front of the bar before dropping into the 6-yard box where Elmore made it two in two as he turned the loose ball home from three yards out with fourteen minutes remaining.
Culley was subbed off to give Jack Norman some well-deserved game time, but it was harsh on Culley who had played very well and had made both goals with his set-pieces. Norman was quickly into the action and he did well under pressure before playing it up to Wilson and Jackson had no option but to head the ball with the striker running in, but thankfully for the centre-back his header beat the keeper but went just wide of the near post for a corner. With five minutes remaining we failed to clear a corner and the ball fell to McFarlane on the edge of the box and he struck his shot beautifully to send it flying through the crowded box and past the unsighted Foxall to level up the scores at 2-2.
Before play restarted Long swapped Fleming for Ceepy Logongo for his return to first-team action for the first time in just over a year. A decent free-kick from Wakley on the left came off a defender’s head for a corner which Wakley took himself and as the ball came to Logongo just outside the box, he turned swiftly and hit a powerful shot with his left foot that hit Quigley in front of goal before being cleared. Wilson and Norman battled hard to create a chance for Elmore inside the box on the left, but his shot lacked the power it required to trouble Adamson, then Chenecks really should have won the game with the final chance after Irwin found himself unmarked with the ball at his feet just inside the box, but he put his shot wide of the goal much to the relief of yours truly.
Before the game we would have seen this as two points dropped, but Chenecks deserved to get at least a point out of this game and I’m sure they will be disappointed at not taking all three. It was a game that I’m sure the neutral would have thoroughly enjoyed as it was action packed from start to finish even if the football on show might not have been of the highest standard. Typical local derby in many ways, played on a heavy pitch with loads of endeavour from all involved so we’ll take the point, especially after all the problems Darren Long faced this morning, and move on to Newport Pagnell at home next Monday afternoon.
I think just about everybody except ever reliable captain Craig Foxall gave the ball away at some point this afternoon and that is something we really must concentrate on cutting out, but everyone played their part in the game today in far more positive ways as well. Good performances from both Jessi Obeng and Nick Fleming as they stepped up to the first team, but man-of-the-match is not an easy call for me today. I’m sure many of you will have their own opinion on this, but I’m giving it to Jack Riley who after a hesitant start, not only scored our first goal, but got in some vital interceptions at his usual business end too. Thank you also to Paddy Cichosz who agreed to play even though not really well enough and I sincerely hope this hasn’t done you any harm in doing so. At least it didn’t rain! The two Archies Culley and Elmore both deserve a mention for their performances out there and the latter’s appearance at half-time really livened us up going forward. Dylan Wilson gave his all with sadly no return, whilst Chief Boateng and Tom Wakley battled hard on a difficult afternoon. Ryan Archer and Dan Mortimer were both solid all game and if we hadn’t given Chenecks so many chances by either losing the ball or not clearing it quick enough, we may have been celebrating the end of the year with three points instead of one.
I hope you all celebrate the New Year in good health and let us hope 2022 is finally the year things start to improve across the world. This is my final report of the year as our next game is at home to Newport Pagnell Town on Bank Holiday Monday 3rd January with the game kicking off at 3pm.
Chenecks; 1. Nathan Adamson 2. Luke Davis © 3. Mitch Sharpe 4. Dan Quigley 5. Ben Jackson 6. Ash Ogden 7. Tyrell Bernard 8. Cam Mabbutt 9. Lewis Irwin 10. Stan Channell (sub 16. Joel McFarlane 63) 11. Ross Garlick. Subs not used; 12. Jaspal Rait 14. Linus Kusi 15. Zondi Chunga 17. Tom Smith.
Yellow cards; Quigley (8) Foul. Sharpe (78) Foul.
Cooks; 1. Craig Foxall © 16. Nick Fleming (sub 14. Ceepy Logongo 85) 3. Jessi Obeng 4. Dan Mortimer 5. Paddy Cichosz 6. Jack Riley 7. Archie Culley (sub 12. Jack Norman 77) 8. Ryan Archer 9. Dylan Wilson 10. Tom Wakley 11. Chief Boateng (sub 15. Archie Elmore HT). Sub not used; 2. Will Bates.
Yellow cards; Mortimer (46) Foul. Fleming (55) Foul.
Referee; Sam Lee
Assts; Trevor Martin & Paul Dobbs
See you all in 2022.