Final friendly ends in defeat, but Cooks match their far more experienced step 4 opponents on the night.
Tuesday 27th July 2021
COGENHOE UNITED (0) 1 BARTON ROVERS (1) 2
Cooks; Elmore 76
Rovers; Bell 14 Regis 62
The Cooks rounded off their pre-season campaign with a tough encounter against a Barton Rovers side who will be amongst the favourites for at least a play-off spot in this season’s Southern League Division One Central and in truth we matched them over the full 90 minutes. We could have had a very early lead after the lively Jordon Orosz broke into the box with pace on the right and was brought down leaving Sam Anderson pointing to the spot. Dylan Wilson was the man entrusted with the ball, but his low penalty was too central and the Rovers keeper was able to make the first save of the game. Bradley Bell saw a good effort go just wide down the other end, but it was Bell who opened the scoring on 14 minutes with a great piece of vision backed up with the perfect execution. He turn away from his man on the half-way line and spotted that Craig Foxall was off his line and with his second touch he lifted the ball high over the back-pedalling keeper’s head and up-stretched arm and into the net.
Strong play by Archie Elmore in the centre allowed Wilson to play the ball out of his feet and hit a low strike that beat the keeper, but it was also an inch or so wide of the post too. With the half coming to a close, Barton won a corner and it was real backs-to-the-wall defending from the Cooks that stopped the visitors doubling their lead so it was advantage Rovers at the break, but only by that wonder-goal from Bell.
No changes this time at the break as Craig Adams has his thoughts on Desborough in a week’s time and getting as much game time into those legs. A cracking early shot from an angle by Bell was well saved at his near post by Foxall, whilst the keeper also took a dangerous cross into his box well under pressure from a striker. Orosz looped a good cross into the box at the other end, but Wilson was just beaten to it in the air, then Wilson nipped in to take advantage of a slip by the right back and made some yards before playing a great low ball across the box, but it was just ahead of his teammates run and the danger was cleared.
A lovely move from Barton saw a number of one and two touch passes and saw Bell given the ball deep inside the box, but Foxall reacted quickly and forced him wide and the striker eventually tried a back-heel that went wide with the keeper having covered his angles well. Wilson made way for Tom Wakley just beyond the hour, but Barton doubled their lead before the sub had even had a touch. A ball over the top saw Chris Regis get to the ball first in the box and he calmly lifted it over Foxall as he came off his line.
An Elmore free-kick was initially won by a defensive header, but it fell to Will Bates on the edge of the box and he hit it on the volley, but it was straight into the ground and fell favourably for the keeper to collect. Another Elmore free-kick, this time from more of an angle down the left, caused all sorts of problems for the visitors and the keeper was forced into a decent save when Wakley fired a shot on target. Cogenhoe piled the pressure onto the Barton defence and Rico Alexander dinked a nice ball into the box for Wakley who went for the first time volley, but it came off a defender and wide for another corner.
Kobi Bivens, Paddy Cichosz and JJ McCarthy all entered the fray over the next few minutes and it was great to see that we kept our shape very well and continued to press the visitors back four. On 76 minutes we deservedly pulled one back from a central free-kick around 25-yards out. Elmore’s battling had won the initial foul and he was given the chance to go for goal, which he accepted gratefully with a superb effort hit with pace and curve that the keeper got his finger-tips too, but couldn’t stop it crashing into the roof of his net.
Faz Rahman became the final Cooks player to get a run out on the night and we continued to push for an equaliser. We had a number of dangerous corners with a real beauty from Bivens causing all sorts of problems for Barton and when it fell to Alexander deep inside the box it was hearts in the mouths moments for Rovers, but his shot couldn’t penetrate the mass of yellow shirts between him and the goal and it was defeat for the Cooks in their final warm-up game.
For me this was the best of the friendlies I have seen and it never looked like we were playing a team from a higher league. We matched our step-four opponents most of the way and caused them all sorts of problems at the back, we perhaps just need to be a little sharper around the opponents box, but that will come. Every single Cooks player out their can hold their head high knowing they gave their all as we continue to fight for each other and grow as a team. The real stuff starts for Adams’ team at Desborough next Tuesday and from what we’ve seen so far it promises to be an entertaining and optimistic season ahead for the club.
If you are planning on going to watch the Reserves at AFC Oakley tonight, please be aware that the game kicks-off at 6-30pm and not 7pm as originally stated.