A super performance from the youth team as goals from Nwosu and Iaciofano secure a win over Bugbrooke.
Tuesday 21st April 2022
NORTHANTS SENIOR YOUTH LEAGUE
COGENHOE UNITED U18 (1) 2 BUGBROOKE ST MICHAELS U18 (0) 1
The Cooks welcomed the Division South champions to Compton Park for our final home game of the season (although there is a possibility that we could still have a Jaymann Shield semi-final) with the Badgers still boasting an 100% record with nine wins out of nine. Gary Fletcher started with what he believed to be his strongest eleven, with many of them playing what may prove to be their last game at youth level and it was clear from the first whistle that they wanted to go out with a win.
Bugbrooke had won an early corner that came to nothing, but it was the Cooks who looked the liveliest with Matt Fletcher cutting in from the right as he beat his man, but he couldn’t find Luca Iaciofano in the centre with his pass. Great tracking my Manny Asante saw him win a tackle just outside our box and although Freddie King was first to the loose ball, his snap-shot sailed over the bar. Munashe Tickawona was closer with a shot from 20-yards out, but it was still too high to trouble Ben Westwood, but it was down the village end that the first goal came with 9 minutes played. Bugbrooke had played the ball over the top of the Cooks defence, but Westwood was sweeping and the keeper really middled his clearance and Nzube Nwosu ran clear of the Badgers defence to get inside the box before turning his man to get the ball onto his right foot, before placing a low shot beyond the reach of James Ward and just inside the keeper’s right-hand post.
The ever-so-lively Nwosu dissected the visitor’s defence with a lovely ball looking Iaciofano’s run into the box, but it had just too much on it and Ward was able to collect, then a great cross from the right by Ollie Sljiivic picked out Nwosu in the middle, but Ward did well to stop his header from doubling the Cooks advantage. Some nice football from the Cooks started when James McGrath won the ball in the air at the back, Josh Wootton played it right to Nwosu who found the feet of Iaciafano on the edge of the box. The striker quickly had two men on him so he held it up and laid it Shad Reza inside the box on the left and he went past Mason White and tried to put his shot into the top corner, but Ward showed a safe pair of hands as he caught the ball cleanly.
We had a scare when Tichawona got the better of Nat Allam on the edge of the box, but he put his shot over the top, then Nwosu played in a low ball from the left that Iaciofano just couldn’t reach in the middle. Nwosu played a dangerous ball in to the box but Ronnie Gibbon stretched out his right boot to turn it behind for a corner, which Reza delivered to pick out McGrath, but the centre back didn’t get behind his header enough to keep it on target.
Fletcher played the ball in from the right to find Iaciofano, but his shot was too close to Ward to unduly trouble him, then Fletcher worked hard to get himself into the box, but had to retreat as he found a wall of white shirts surrounding him, so he gave it to Sljivic who went past Corey Pert and sent a low ball across the 6-yard box, but there was no blue shirt there to turn it in. Max Prickett-Reed volleyed over from 20-yards out, then back down the other end as Nwosu did well and pulled the ball back to Reza on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t get by his man to create the space for a shot and Bugbrooke cleared the ball up-field.
A very pleasing first half for the Cooks who deserved their one goal lead, they just had to do what the first-team have failed to do in the last couple of matches and manage the second forty-five successfully.
Half-time; Cooks 1 Badgers 0.
Bugbrooke made one change at the break as Archie May came on for Ezra Mukaku, but it was as you were for the Cooks. Incidentally, I should have mentioned that assistant referee Matt Parry failed to show up or respond, so Bugbrooke manager Dan Powell had run the line in the first half and I have to say did an excellent job too, so it was now down to Damien McGrath to take over the flag duties for the next forty-five.
The always impressive Asante played a great ball to Fletcher on the right and he fired in a shot that took a deflection for a corner, then Reza played in a good free-kick from the right touchline that Pert got to first, but it fell to Caleb Jones seven yards out and the Cooks left back was disappointed to see his first time shot fly over the bar. Asante hit a decent effort from outside the box that went just wide of the keeper’s left-hand post, but the Cooks got that vital second goal of the night on 62 minutes when leading scorer Luca Iaciofano bagged his 17th of the season for the U18s (also his 25th including first and reserve team goals). He did the work himself too as he nodded the ball over a defender just inside the Bugbrooke half and ran clear to get inside the box on the right and as Ward came off his line to narrow the angle, Iaciofano placed a low shot beyond the keeper’s reach and inside the far post.
The Badgers were incredibly unlucky not to pull one back almost immediately when Tichawona was played through inside the box and despite a narrowing angle, he pulled his shot back across Westwood and it looked to be going in at the far post. However, the ball bobbled and hit the base of the upright and rolled back to the prostrate Cooks keeper who clutched the ball with relief. Play went straight down the other end and it was and the Cooks went close to extending their lead when Ward had to save with his legs at the near post from Iaciofano’s low shot from ten yards out.
Both managers were now giving their subs a run out with the visitors bringing on striker Billy Panter and former Cooks full back Josh Whaler, whilst Fletcher replaced Sljivic with Archie Shaw and then Iaciofano (who had played for the first team just 24 hours earlier) with Isaac Redding. Redding was very quickly in the action as he hooked Jones’ throw into the centre to find Nwosu who got the ball stuck under his feet a little, but he still managed to keep hold of the ball and his blocked shot went right to Fletcher who forced Ward into another save with a decent shot. Fletcher had another shot on target moments later when Asante picked him out with a good pass, but this time it lacked the power he was looking for and was a routine save for Ward.
Reza was rested on 80 minutes to give Henry McDonald a run out. Jones played a free-kick into the box and when it was half-cleared Jones ran on to hit it first time from the left corner of the box. His effort wasn’t too far wide, but his main concern was the cramp in his calf as he stayed on the ground. Both Panter and Ward tried to assist him (thanks guys) before Gary Fletcher took over. Caleb was clearly in a lot of pain eventhough he wanted to get back on the field, but there was no easing back in for him as he had to sprint back and stop Bugbrooke breaking clear down the right flank within seconds of returning to the pitch.
Nwosu was shown the yellow card on 83 minutes after throwing the ball away to waste time. You could tell referee Chris Walton really didn’t want to have to reach into his pocket, but Nzube left him with no choice after a number of warnings and the lack of subtlety in his time-wasting this time. Kieran Ashman came on for the last five minutes in place of the extremely hard-working Matt Fletcher in a straight swap on the right. Jones sent in an in-swinging corner that caught the wind and escaped the grasp of Ward, but the keeper recovered very quickly to dive on the ball as it squirmed towards the goal. Bugbrooke exerted a bit of late pressure as they tried to get back into the game and they gave themselves a flicker of hope with a goal deep into stoppage time when a ball in from the left was turned in at very close range by Billy Panter, but Cogenhoe saw the final seconds of the game to claim a great victory and move themselves back into second place.
To sum up, it was great for the lads to become the first team to defeat Bugbrooke in the league this season and they can be very proud of their efforts. It wasn’t Bugbrooke at their strongest as I guess they are looking towards next season, but it was a very good game to watch from the sidelines. Congratulations to the Badgers on their achievements this season and good luck in the Champions game next month, let’s hope they can win it for the South Division. Man-of-the-match has to be the whole Cogenhoe team who gave their all to a man, played some lovely football and were a credit to Gary and Damien. It may well have been the final game for a number of them as they are at the higher age group and next week’s Jaymann Shield game at Whitworth will probably be a chance for the younger lads to add to their experience as has been the case in this competition so far. We are still scheduled to play Bedford Town in the league, but that game is in doubt as they have cancelled it a few times this season and apparently won’t be able to use the main pitch after May 1st as renovation work begins on the pitch. We will have to wait and see what happens with this one, but if Bugbrooke beat Cranfield next week then we are guaranteed second place and as such the Bedford game would be a dead rubber.
Cooks; 1 Ben Wetwood 2. Ollie Sljivic 3. Caleb Jones 4. Manny Asante 5. Nat Allam 6. James McGrath 7. Matt Fletcher (sub 12. Kieran Ashman 85) 8. Josh Wootton 9. Luca Iaciofano (sub 17. Isaac Redding 80) 10. Shad Reza (sub 14. Henry McDonald 80) 11. Nzube Nwosu. Sub not used; 15. Aiden Hawes.
Badgers; 1. James Ward 2. Mason White (sub 14. Josh Whaler 73) 3. Archie Chorlton 4. Jake Webster 5. Ronnie Gibbon 6. Corey Pert 7. Alfie Doherty (sub 12. Billy Panter 62) 8. Max Prickett-Reed 9. Munashe Tichawona (sub 10. Mukaku 78 ret.) 10. Ezra Mukaku (sub 15. Archie May 46) 11. Freddie King ©
Referee; Chris Walton
Asst; David Froom & half each by the clubs thanks to Matthew Parry not turning up.