Elmore saw his penalty saved as the Cooks are forced to settle for a point on a very bumpy pitch in Oadby.
Saturday 9th April 2022
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
G.N.G OADBY TOWN (1) 1 COGENHOE UNITED (0) 1
Darren Long, assisted today by Gary Fletcher in the absence of Steve Ganley, was once again forced to change his plans late on after Dan Mortimer tested positive for covid and Will Bates was also forced out through illness, so Alex Vaughan and Jack Riley were recalled to the starting line-up at the back, whilst Joe Morris linked-up with the first team on the bench after impressing in the reserves where he joined the not 100% fit Jack Norman and the versatile Matt Fletcher. Things weren’t straight forward for Oadby either though as they were forced to make some late changes to their team-sheet.
Cogenhoe started brightly on a changeable day just outside Leicester with light showers interspersed with warm sunshine making a choice of coat pretty much impossible. The pitch at Wigston Road has never been great and the rock-hard bumpy surface and slightly long grass (which included the first daisies of the season) was going to make it tricky for both sets of players. Luca Iaciofano played Tom Wakley clear in the box but he had strayed offside, whilst the first effort at goal came from Andre Williams who met the ball on the volley just inside the box on the left with a decent effort that was a yard too high to worry Craig Foxall. A great ball from Iaciofano saw Wakley get into the box, but Bahada Sandhu defended well to pressurise the striker into pulling his shot wide.
Wakley put a 25-yard shot wide of the target as the Cooks had the better of the play attacking the famous leaning goal frame, or clubhouse end as it is also known. The first shot on target came when Culley won the ball and played it up to Wakley who made good ground before laying it right to Culley who whipped in a cross. A defender just got his head to the ball and it found its way to Paddy Cichosz just outside the box and he met it with a well-struck volley that keeper Sorin Cojocaru held into his chest. It was a little against the run of play when the Poachers snatched the lead on 9 minutes, but it was good move that opened us up as Lamar Parkes was played into the box on the left where he took it to the line before pulling it back across to meet Andre Williams run and he placed his shot first time past Foxall and into the roof of net from around 8-yards out.
Foxall had to come out of his box to clear a through ball and when it was sent back into the area Riley had come across to sweep up. Cichosz sent a good ball into the box to Archie Elmore, but Cojocaru came out quickly to dive at his feet and make a brave save, then a lovely passing move that started just outside our area and involved seven Cooks players ended with Wakley winning a throw near the corner flag. The throw came in and Ryan Archer battled to hold off a couple of defenders before finding Wakley just beyond the corner of the box where he was tripped as went past his man. Referee Adam Brierley-Lewis awarded the free-kick in a dangerous position and Elmore took the kick where it was blocked illegally by a home player’s hand with the referee pointing to the spot. I was expecting Wakley to step up after his successful spot kick against Wellingborough, but Elmore took over and unfortunately his penalty wasn’t a good one and Cojocaru moved to his right to save. Iaciofano was first to react and he dinked the ball past the keeper from an angle to the right of the post and somehow it went across the face of the goal without going in.
Vaughan did well to cut out Nyle Patel’s cross and when the full-back whipped it back in Foxall rose to catch in cleanly. Vaughan then sent in a cross down the other end that saw Adams touch on, but two lucky rebounds off defenders saw the ball roll through to the keeper. Cichosz played a good ball down the line to Iaciofano, but he was beaten by a pot hole and the ball rolled out of play as he went to ground. Wakley played a ball across the box that Elmore steered on target but wasn’t able to trouble the keeper, then Parkes played a good ball to Musa Bham, but his shot was held comfortably by Foxall. Elmore did well on the right and sent over a cross that Iaciofano was just beaten to at the near post. Culley sent over a good corner that Cameron Powell headed away and when Culley sent back in another good delivery, we were again second best in the air as Powell proved strongest to head the ball clear of the box.
A great turn and pass from Iaciofano found Wakley and his cross was cut out for a corner on the right. Adams swung this one over and although Cichosz flicked it on, Oadby were able to clear their lines successfully. A bit of pressure from Oadby saw the ball fall to Jaga Singh on the end of the box, but a bobble meant his miss-hit shot went well wide of the target. Parkes very nearly played Williams through the middle with well-placed pass, but Foxall had read the situation well and came to the edge of his box to claim the ball just before the striker could get there. Elmore did well to keep the ball in play and pull it back to Cichosz, but a defender just managed to get a foot to the ball and that proved to be the final action of the first half.
Half-time; GNG Oadby 1 Cooks 1.
Bham got the better of Rico Alexander to break into the Cooks box, but Foxall came off his line quickly to dive on the ball, then what can only be described as poor defending saw Bham touch the ball through to Powell deep inside the Cooks penalty area and once again Foxall saved his teammates with some very brave keeping, taking a knock in the process. The Cooks drew themselves level six minutes into the second half with Ryan Archer the hero of the hour. Vaughan played the ball up to Cichosz and he put it into the box where Iaciofano and Wakley got touches to find Archer seven yards out and he turned away for his marker before planting the ball home.
A first-time pass from Culley saw Iaciofano just beaten to the ball by Cojocaru, then an excellent tackle by Phil Bilson denied Wakley as he ran on to a great pass from Iaciofano. Wakley and Iaciofano again worked well inside the box only to be denied by Bilson, whilst the two combined again as Wakley did well down the left before finding his strike partner just outside the box, but Iaciofano’s first-time shot was just over the top. Foxall had to save from his own skipper as Alexander met a cross from the left on the volley, then back down the other end where Iaciofano so nearly played in Wakley, but Cojocaru came right to the edge of his area to dive on the ball.
Elmore found Iaciofano out wide but his cross was a little too deep. The ball was played back inside to Culley who fed a good ball through to Wakley and when his cross from the left was cut out, Vaughan ran on to meet it with a decent first-time shot from 25-yards that flew over the top. Culley played a ball over the top that was just too hard for Wakley, then Adams picked out Iaciofano with a good ball that saw him get into the box on the left before placing a shot across the keeper, but Matt Richmond stretched to get his foot to the ball and put it behind for a corner. Culley swung it over and although the keeper clearly touched it away with his glove, the ref and assistant decided it should be a goal-kick.
Oadby made a couple of changes as first Singh made way for the familiar face of Yaegan Gore and then a couple of minutes later Sukhbinder Johal replaced Bham. Wakley got his head to a Culley free-kick with Archer trying to turn it in and winning a corner. Adams swung this one over only for Cojocaru to catch it cleanly over the head of Wakley just outside the six-yard box. A well-timed tackle by Cichosz stopped Parkes as he ran into the box, then Vaughan switched play well with a good ball to Adams on the right and he turned inside before curling in a cross that was just ahead of Wakley in the centre. GNG went close when Johal found fellow sub Gore deep inside the box and he pulled it back for Camen Bhandal in the centre, but his low shot couldn’t beat Foxall, then play went straight down the other end as Iaciofano found Wakley on the edge of the box, but the impressive Bilson once again denied the Cooks with a great tackle.
Oadby made their final change when Rhian Patel took over from goal-scorer Williams with eight minutes left. A nice turn by Iaciofano saw him send over a cross that the keeper claimed, then good advantage by the ref saw Oadby break through the middle and Parkes found himself with just Foxall to beat, but the Cooks keeper caught the Oadby #11’s attempted lob. The first (and only) yellow card of the game came on 86 minutes as Bhandal caught Cichosz late in the centre. Nothing malicious here, just a bit mistimed.
Culley played a nice ball over the top for Wakley and he managed to touch the ball past the keeper just outside the box, but the ball went too wide and although the Cooks striker gave it his all, he just couldn’t keep the ball in play. Elmore ran on to a Culley pass inside the box to the left and took the ball around the keeper and again he was forced wide, but he cut inside and with Iaciofano shouting for a pass that would have left him with a simple finish, Elmore went for glory and put the ball over the top from a tight angle. Vaughan did well to win the ball inside his own half before making a good run and laying it off to Adams who played a decent ball across the box, but we failed to attack it as it went out of play beyond the far post. The Cooks had a late escape as Oadby attacked down the right and the cross struck the arm of a Cooks player, but despite some very confident shouts for a penalty from the home players, no penalty was awarded and seconds later the final whistle was blown. The officials were surrounded by the Oadby contingent, but both sides were left having to take a point from the game.
From a Cogenhoe perspective I feel we should have taken all three points from today’s performance, but in the end we could so easily have lost it late on. Fitness does seem to be an issue at the tail end of games as not for the first time recently we appeared to run out of steam and so nearly came away with nothing during those final few minutes which is a little worrying. The game was very scrappy at times, but played in good spirit by both teams so perhaps a draw is a fair result over the whole 90 minutes. We played well at times and put some great moves together on a very difficult pitch, but we will obviously reflect on the penalty miss and the late chance that we wasted too. We had Craig Foxall to thank for a couple of brave saves today and Alex Vaughan did really well after his late call up following Morts illness and on the whole we defended well today, with the odd heart-in-mouth moment along the way. Archie Culley tried to make things happen with some good balls and Ryan Archer topped off a battling performance with a goal too. Tom Wakley worked his socks off today, but found Phil Bilson in superb form, especially in the second half as the big defender so often got in that vital challenge to deny the front man. My man-of-the-match today goes to Luca Iaciofano who really looks like he is going to play a big part in the team next year, is growing in confidence all the time, got himself into the right places and made some really telling passes too.
Next up for the Cooks is a Reserve trip to Raunds on Tuesday night, whilst the first team now wait until next Saturday when they play host to Long Buckby.
GNG Oadby Town; 1. Sorin Cojocaru 2. Nyle Patel 3. Bahada Sandhu 4. Matt Richmond 5. Phil Bilson 6. Cameron Powell © 7. Andre Williams (sub 12. Rhian Patel 82) 8. Camen Bhandal 9. Musa Bham (sub 14. Sukhbinder Johal 68) 10. Jaga Singh (sub 15. Yaegan Gore 66) 11. Lamar Parkes. Sub not used; 16. Rickveer Gill.
Yellow card; Bhandal (86) Foul.
Cooks; 1. Craig Foxall 2. Paddy Cichosz 3. Josh Adams 4. Alex Vaughan 5. Jack Riley 6. Rico Alexander © 7. Archie Culley 8. Ryan Archer 9. Tom Wakley 10. Archie Elmore 11. Luca Iaciofano. Subs all unused; 12. Matt Fletcher 14. Jack Norman 15. Joe Morris.
Referee; Adam Brierley-Lewis
Assts; Kayden Geary & Stephen Tiernan.