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Two goal late in the first half from Ben Gough and Jack Connor proved to the turning point as Cogenhoe beat bottom battlers Leicester Nirvana at Compton Park.

Saturday 25th November 2023





Gough 41

Connor 45+1


Panariti 66


Att; 39


Scott Carlin named the exact same sixteen that had played so well in last week’s 3-3 draw at Daventry and the next important thing was skipper Harley Mallard winning the toss and kicking towards the village end, meaning Nirvana keeper would have to look into the dropping sun from kick-off and it will have gone behind the horizon before John Meadows stands between those goalposts. It was already a quite bitter afternoon despite the sun and it was to get a lot colder before the game ended as we felt the harsh reality of the first game of the winter at Compton Park.

Nirvana were bottom and six points adrift going into this game, but they started on the front foot with a decent cross being sent over from the right by Tamar Clayton-Naute that Bradley Ilunga headed away with the Cooks centre-half being awarded a free-kick as he did so. Omar Jagne dinked a nice ball up to Clayton-Naute, but Ben Gough read it well and got there first, then the visitors had a great chance of taking an early lead when a free-kick in front of the Cogenhoe dugout was won in the air just inside the box by William Clarke who steered his header into the path of Kareem Abouraia a few yards from goal, but Meadows made himself big and saved the ensuing shot.  Jagne was shown the yellow card by Gary Ogden for a foul on 7 minutes which from where I stood seemed a little over the top from the referee, with Harley Mallard playing the free-kick up the field where Jack Connor won the header on the edge of the box, but it went through to O’Connor unchallenged.

Earl Atat defended well with a timely challenge to stop Clayton-Naute going clear through on goal, with the Nirvana man then catching the Cooks right-back late. Kieran Mobbs had been beaten to the ball inside the Nirvana half with the visitors breaking quickly as Richemone Sylla carried the ball forward before playing it up to Jagne, but Mobbs had chased back and took the ball off him at the expense of a corner which found its way to Sylla at the far post, but he went for power as he stretched to reach it and falling backwards, fired over the top from close range. Tawanda Mangondoza went around Meadows who had come out wide on his left side and although he was able to come inside and fire a shot at goal, Mallard was covering and cleared the ball safely. Fifteen minutes in and Nirvana were easily the better of the two teams so far, although the Cooks had defended strongly as the game remained scoreless.

A long throw from Ben Gough was won in the air by Jack Connor with Mobbs playing it inside to Sonny Knights who set up Luke Bullement 9-yards out, but his first time shot lacked any real power and was easily dealt with by O’Connor, but at least the Cooks had registered their first effort on goal with almost 20 minutes played. Meadows did well to catch a looping Kyle Tott cross over his head at the far post, then down the other end Mobbs played in a low cross from the left that caught the bottom of defender Andrei Raceala’s boot to slow it down a little and Connor nipped in front of the keeper to get a touch, but he could only put it behind for a goal-kick. Knights got a vital foot to the ball inside the box as Abouraia ran on to a ball played in from the left just before Bailey Weatherly became the first Cooks player to be cautioned after catching his man just outside the box on 23 minutes. Mangondoza went for goal with the free-kick, but it was easy for the Cooks keeper,

The Cooks were starting to grow into the game more now and Mobbs had a shot blocked from the edge of the box and Knights saw the same result as he hit the rebound first time, then a long throw by Gough caused the Nirvana defence a few problems, but it just wouldn’t fall right for both Knights and Bullement deep inside the danger area. Mangondoza picked up a yellow card for a foul on Knights just inside the Nirvana half and he could easily have made things even worse for himself as he argued with the referee over the decision with a bit of fruity language thrown in. Another dangerous throw from Gough just wouldn’t fall for the Cooks man, this time Mobbs the frustrated player, but they were to take the lead on 41 minutes from a set-piece. Bullement delivered the corner from the left that Ilunga headed on target only to see his effort blocked on the line, but Ben Gough pounced on the rebound 8-yards out and swept the ball low past O’Connor and into the net for his first goal since returning to the club. Nirvana were probably still wondering how they were behind when their afternoon got even worse as the game went into first-half stoppage time when Jack Connor added to their woe with a great finish. The Cooks striker had the pace on his marker as he ran onto a ball over the top and when O’Connor raced out of his area to try a sweep, Connor calmly lifted the ball over his head 30-yards from goal and with one bounce it nestled nicely in the back of the net. Great finish by the youngster as the Cooks headed into the break with a two-goal advantage, something that had looked extremely unlikely just a few minutes previous.


Half-time; Cooks 2 Nirvana 0


Visiting manager Dan George made one change at the break as Shaquille O’Neill-Brooks made way for Matt Brown for the second half. The sub created a good early chance too with his free-kick on the right that was flicked on to find Clayton-Naute at the back stick, but he smashed his shot over the top when he should at least have tested Meadows from close range. Jagne was replaced by Edward Bamfo on 52 minutes and sixty seconds later a free-kick decision went against the visitors which upset Clayton-Naute so much that he ended up in the sin-bin for his protests. Connor again flicked on a Gough throw, but Sylla won the ball behind him as Weatherly challenged in air, then Nirvana went close with a 25-yard effort by Tevis Panariti that fizzed a couple of feet over the top, although Meadows did appear to have it covered.

Weatherly fired well over from 25-yards after Gough had squared a free-kick to him and this proved to be his last action as he made way for Dylan Wilson three minutes beyond the hour. Bullement whipped in a corner that Dimond met with a flicked header at the near post, but O’Connor dived across to catch the ball in his 6-yard box beyond him. The Cooks were starting to look like they could add a third any time and wrap this one up, but instead they found themselves just one goal ahead on 66 minutes when Tevis Panariti turned to hook the ball home from deep inside the box. Bullement was yellow carded on 68 minutes, no intent there but the decision was correct as he caught his man late just inside his own half. Gough played a big clearance down the left that Wilson did brilliantly to keep in and carry the ball into the box, but his low ball across the face of goal was too soon as his teammates struggled to keep pace with him. The Cooks defended well as Nirvana looked for an equaliser and over a six-minute spell we saw a run of changes that saw Dalton Leon, Dennis Nkrumah and Jai Hollely all come on for the Cooks as Knights, Mobbs and Bullement made way, while Nirvana swapped Tott for Joel Oliveira. The visitors had a late chance when they poked the ball wide after a quick break then the final sub saw Gough forced off with a knock giving Charlie Pearson the last two minutes of normal time. Leon taking over the on the left side of the defence. There was still time for Mangondoza to hook over the top from a few yards out following a corner and a cross-shot blocked for the visitors, while Nkrumah played a nice ball to Wilson just inside the box on the left and he turned to hit a great first-time shot that went inches over the bar.

Three points are three points no matter how you get them and the Cooks sit in mid-table in 13th spot following the win. We never matched our performance from last Saturday today in truth and the 2-0 half-time scoreline was a little unfair on our guests today, but we did defend well on the whole and taking chances was the real difference today. After last week, John Meadows had a quiet afternoon, but did make that vital save early on to deny Abouraia and if Nirvana had scored that one then things could have turned out very different. Earl Atat is back to his best after that run of games when he gave away a number of needless free-kicks in dangerous places a few weeks ago, while Ben Gough has been a massive boost to the defence since his return from Diamonds. Bradley Ilunga and Harley Mallard are proving to be a solid partnership too which has allowed Ben Dimond to shine in a midfield role. Jack Connor gets my nod for man-of-the-match today, winning several of Gough’s long throws and causing problems for the opposing defence, while capping things off with that great finish for the vital second goal just before the break.

We might not have been at our best on this bitterly cold afternoon, but the only thing people will remember next week is the fact that we won and we now face the challenge of Histon, another team sitting below us in the table, as we hit the road next Saturday.


Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Ben Gough (sub 16. Charlie Pearson 88) 4. Ben Dimond 5. Bradley Ilunga 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Kieron Mobbs (sub 15. Dennis Nkrumah 78) 8. Sonny Knights (sub 14. Dalton Leon 74) 9. Jack Connor 10. Bailey Weatherly (sub 17. Dylan Wilson 63) 11. Luke Bullement (sub 12. Jai Newell-Hollely 81).

Yellow cards; Weatherly (23) Foul. Bullement (68) Foul.

Nirvana; 1. Jude O’Connor 2. Andrei Raceala 3. Tevis Panariti 4. Omar Jagne (sub 12. Edward Bamfo 52) 5. Richemone Sylla 6. Shaquille O’Neill-Brooks (sub 14. Matt Brown ht) 7. Tamar Clayton-Naute 8. Kareem Abouraia © 9. William Clarke 10. Kyle Tott (sub 15. Joel Oliveira 76). Sub not used; 16. Elias MacKintosh.

Referee; Gary Ogden

Assts; Robert Cameron & Paul Kimbrey




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