Saturday 6th January 2023
COGENHOE UNITED v AYLESTONE PARK
Aylestone Park make the trip down from Leicester on Saturday for the first meeting between our two teams at senior level, although they have been here for an F.A Youth Cup. On that occasion the Cooks won 1-0 with a last-minute goal, a result that was exceptionally hard on Aylestone who had dominated the game but couldn’t find a way past Zak Cunningham on the day. Josh and Jake Wormleighton were in the visitor’s line-up that day and injuries aside, will almost certainly be making the trip down the M1 to face us again this weekend.
For the third successive game the Cooks face a team currently occupying a spot in the play-offs and we know it will be a tough afternoon for Scott Carlin’s boys, but we also know that we are more than capable of taking points off the teams at the top so certainly won’t be fazed by the challenge in front of them after taking a deserved point off championship chasing Wellingborough Town last week. Home form is good too with three straight wins prior to Saturday’s draw. Park are still in hunt for a straight promotion place, although they are five points behind Racing Club Warwick the Doughboys on level games so they will view this as a game they need to win to keep the pressure up on the top two. They are ten unbeaten in the league going into this game with their last defeat coming at Wellingborough back in October, but they have suffered one more reverse at Skegness Town in the KO Cup during the run. Last weekend they beat local rivals GNG Oadby Town 3-1 at the Linwood Playing Field with Sam Hollis, Marshal Keenan and Jake Wormleighton all on target to outweigh Lamar Parkes effort. Recent form has seen them drop four points from the last nine on offer with a 1-1 draw at Lutterworth Town on Boxing Day following on from a similar result against promotion rivals March Town the weekend before Christmas. Former Hinckley LR striker Matt Langham tops the scoring charts with 14 so far with Louis Samuels and Marshal Keenan just behind him on 13.
Samuels and Keenan are well known to the Cooks having been with Lutterworth Town prior to joining Aylestone and they followed their previous manager Josh Dixon into the city. Dixon had done wonders for the Swifts taking from step seven to the Premier Division and he was tempted to Aylestone Park the summer before last and promptly ran away with the UCL Division title by six points and scored 153 league goals along the way and had steered his new team into a play-off place in their debut season at step five, but was sacked out of the blue in October which was certainly a big surprise to me given his and his assistant Kade Lewis’s progress on the field with the club, but whatever the reason, the reins were handed over to James Dodd.
Biff’s boys have suffered just one defeat in their last six outings, that Boxing Day loss in Newport Pagnell where the home side had trailed 1-2 as the game moved into added time, but they bounced back well with a 1-1 draw at home to promotion chasing Wellingborough with Jack Connor scoring for the third successive game to secure the point. Biff has the privilege of naming a nineteen-man squad going into this fixture with Bailey Weatherly not working and Dalton Leon back after family illness ruled him out last week, while longer term absentees Charlie Pearson, Alex Parkes and Sharma Bako are all back in contention. He has lost of the services of young loanees Matty Ireland and Josh Rayfield though as the duo have returned to the Cobblers after a brief, yet impressive spell with the club over the Christmas period.
As it stands there isn’t a pitch inspection planned and with the recent heavy rains moving away and finally giving us a much-needed dry spell, the club is very hopeful that the game will be able to go ahead as planned.
Alex Parkes is back in contention tomorrow after missing the last few games through injury.
Dalton Leon is back in the squad after being unavailable over the festive period.
Man to watch; Aylestone Park’s leading scorer Matt Langham celebrates one of his 15 goals scored so far this season. He is looking to repeat the success he had in the league two seasons ago when his goals helped Hinckley LR to the championship. (Picture credit to Jamie Sharp).