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Jack Connor’s 1oth goal of the season earned the Cooks a point at home to fifth place March Town.

Wednesday 13th March 2024





Connor 38


Foy 24


Att; 59


Thankfully the strong wind had helped to dry out the pitch after another couple of days of persistent rain, so it was game on with March Town making the long trip from deepest Cambridgeshire for our final floodlit home game of the season. Scott Carlin had Bailey Weatherly and Dom Wysocki unavailable, while Earl Atat was heavily delayed due to issues on the railway, so changes were needed with Ben Dimond returning from suspension and young Cobblers pair Jamari Hart and Matty Ireland coming in to the starting line-up. Atat had to make do with a place on the bench where he was joined by Dylan Carlin and Charlie Pearson. Hares boss Ash Taylor stuck with the starting line-up that had drawn 1-1 at Newport Pagnell on Saturday, but he did shake his bench up a little with Danny Emmington and Jack Saunders coming in for Craig Gillies and Scott Callaghan.

The previously mentioned wind had helped the match go ahead, but it was to affect how the game was played as it went back to the traditional straight down the pitch from car-park to village and it was March who won the toss and kicked with it for the first forty-five minutes. March were quickly on the attack and won their first corner inside thirty seconds and from their second attack a low ball in from the left saw Josh Burrows first time shot deflected wide for a corner on the right. Dan Bucciero delivered it towards the far post and Jack Withers rose high to meet it with his head with ball coming back into play off the crossbar. Ireland’s tenacity won a free-kick 25-yards out, then Callum Farmer picked out Tejan Thomas on the right and he whipped the ball across the face of goal as the Cooks got themselves into the game after defending for the first few minutes.

One-time Cogenhoe player Ben Seymour-Shove fired the ball wide of the far post from inside the box on the left, then Ireland found Farmer who played a lovely ball down the left into the path of Keiron Mobbs, but his attempted pull back was cleared by a defender. Paddy Cichosz fed Thomas again on the right and the Diamonds loanee burst forward before going for goal from a wide position, but his powerful effort flew wide of the near post. Cichosz found Ireland on the left and he sent a great cross over that Adam Brumby did really well to get his head to in front of Connor at the near post and before the ball was cleared, Cichosz put a low shot on target from just outside the box, but placed it too close to Jonah Gill in the visitor’s goal. Farmer pulled back his man giving March a free-kick on the right and when Bucciero sent the free-kick in towards the far post, one of his teammates appeared to throw himself to the floor shouting for a penalty, but referee Tom Burt was well placed and waved the appeals away.

It did appear that there was a goal just waiting to happen in this game and it was the Hares who were celebrating in the 24th minute. I have to admit I didn’t get a clear view of it, but the ball was played to the far post from the right and Matt Foy went to shoot on the turn, and although he didn’t strike it clearly, John Meadows was wrong-footed by a deflection and the ball crept over the line. May have been an own-goal, but March have credited Foy with the goal and I am happy to go with them. The Cooks responded well to this set-back with Hart feeding Connor in the box and his deft touch and turn created a shooting chance, but he couldn’t keep his effort on target, but Meadows was next in action as he dived to his left to push a Joe Rider header around the post after a dangerous ball in from the right. Thomas went for goal from the right with his low shot taking a deflection wide of the far post with Connor running in to try and get a touch. There is a point of contention with the corner decision as Connor was in an offside position from the original shot and had gone for it, but maybe the luck was with us this time as Farmer delivered a great corner that Connor met with a powerful header on the edge of the 6-yard box. Gill did get his glove onto the ball, but the Cooks striker’s header had too much on it and he couldn’t keep it out. Ten for the season now for Jack and he becomes joint top scorer with Dylan Wilson. 38 minutes played and back to all-square.

Good strength from Connor saw him get the better of a challenge a few yards outside the box before he got to the edge of the area and hit a shot that Gill got his body behind, then Seymour-Shove fired wide down the other end from 18-yards out. Mobbs, Farmer and Connor were all involved in a good move that saw Ireland released down the left wing with his low cross catching a defender’s heel and going behind for a corner. Farmer sent this one a bit deeper with Brad Ilunga heading it at goal where it struck a defender in front of him. Brad unilaterally shouted for handball, but unsurprisingly his appeals went unheard. March had a great chance to retake the lead with the final kick of the first half when Rider turned deep inside the box, but he didn’t get round enough and fired his shot well wide of the target.


Half-time; Cooks 1 Hares 1


Biff made a change at the break with Atat coming on for Mobbs, meaning Thomas switching from right full-back to left. With their wind now at their backs, the Cooks had the first shot of the second half when Hart worked inside from the left and went for goal from 20-yards, but he didn’t get over it all and it sailed over the top, then Farmer sent Connor down the right, but he too sent his cross straight out for a goal-kick. Seymour-Shove cut in from the left before shooting wide of the far post, while Dimond dinked a ball over the top to Cichosz, but Bucciero tracked him at the expense of a corner on the left that Farmer swung it to the back post with a few players going for it, but the end result was a goal-kick to the Hares. A great cross from Seymour-Shove saw Withers launch himself at it in the middle and although he got his head to the ball, he couldn’t get the direction he needed to trouble Meadows. Rider picked out Seymour-Shove down the left with a great pass and when the ball was crossed low into the box, Burrows has his shot blocked by Mallard.

The frantic end-to-end start to the second half continued with Thomas bursting past Bucciero before whipping over a cross that eluded everybody, while Ireland’s battling won a corner that Farmer sent over and it found its way to Connor just inside the box with the striker lifting his shot over the bar on the volley. Ireland picked up a yellow card for catching Withers late and two minutes later Farmer joined him for stopping a quick break by Rider illegally. Biff opted to take an angry looking Ireland off before the referee insisted on it as Dex Nkrumah came on with 67 minutes played, and the Hares swapped Danny Emmington for Whyatt and Jack Saunders for Burrows at the same time. Hart must have said something awry to assistant referee Luke Pilley on 70 minutes as a quick wave of his flag called Burt over and the referee then sent the youngster to the sin-bin for ten minutes, then Farmer’s shot from the right angle of the box wasn’t too far wide of the far post.

Connor was cautioned for the second game running for a foul on Saunders just before a good effort from Emmington went just wide from the edge of the box. Cichosz won a corner off Brumby, but this was his final action of the game as he was replaced by Dalton Leon in a direct swap with eight minutes to go. Gill did well to reach and punch Farmer’s cross away despite the challenge of Connor, then Nkrumah was caught on the ankle by a late challenge from Bucciero allowing Farmer to play the resulting free-kick into towards the far post, but somehow it carried on untouched and out for a goal-kick.

Thomas was yellow carded for kicking the ball away on 87 minutes, while Saunders’ shot from outside the box ended up closer to the corner flag than it did Meadows’ goal. Saunders sent a free kick into the box that forced a bit of a scramble as the Cooks tried and eventually succeeded in getting the ball away from their goal, then it was hearts in mouths time late on as the Cooks could easily have been penalised for a handball inside their own penalty area and before the move ended, Withers was a whisker away from getting to a low ball in from the right as he slid in just needing a touch at the far post. Saunders clearly went to ground looking for a free-kick that he was never going to get and gave Mr Burt little choice but to send him to the sinbin for his dissent with the game already into stoppage time. My last note was Carlin coming on for Hart on 90+3 and a couple of minutes later the final whistle blew to end an entertaining and at times frantic game.


The performance from the Cooks was the response that Biff and Batts had wanted after Saturday and we were fully worthy of a point against a team who will, barring a disaster, finish in the playoffs this season and is a marker of what this bunch of youngsters could achieve if they can find the necessary consistency. March are now 8 points clear of Yaxley and Newport Pagnell having played a game more than both, but with the number of games remaining ever dwindling, that gap is one that will be difficult to overcome. The Cooks are now on 38 points and sit in eleventh place, so a top ten finish remains a realistic target, but being six points behind GNG with both having seven games left to play, a strong finish is vital starting at Easington on Saturday afternoon. There were a few candidates for Paul’s man-of-the-match tonight, but my nod goes to Callum Farmer whose passing game was back to its best on a difficult night.

All the best to March for the remainder of the season and a special thanks to the hardy souls who made the long trip to Northamptonshire tonight to support their team.


Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Tejan Thomas 3. Keiron Mobbs (sub 15. Earl Atat ht) 4. Ben Dimond 5. Brad Ilunga 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Jamari Hart (sub 16. Dylan Carlin 90+3) 8.Callum Farmer 9. Jack Connor 10. Paddy Cichosz (sub 12. Dalton Leon 82) 11. Matty Ireland (sub 14. Dex Nkrumah 82). Sub not used; 17. Charlie Pearson.

Hares; 1. Jonah Gill 2.Dan Bucciero (c) 3. Harvey Edwards (sub 16. Harry Biggs 87) 4. Jack Withers 5. Adam Brumby 6. Jay Whyatt (sub 12. Danny Emmington 67) 7. Josh Burrows (sub 14. Jack Saunders 67) 8. Sam Green 9. Joe Rider (sub 15. Steff Cavozzi 87) 10. Natt Foy 11. Ben Seymour-Shove. Sub not used; 17. Luke Pepper.

Referee; Tom Burt Assts; Luke Pilley & Gary Gurney




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