Four goals but no point as MK Irish triumph 5-4 in a topsy-turvy game.
Tuesday 13th September 2022
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
MILTON KEYNES IRISH (4) 5 COGENHOE UNITED (3) 4
Smith 27, 85 (pen)
Obeng 28, 75
Scott Carlin made two changes to his starting line-up from the win in Coventry with Kodi Briggs getting the nod over Lewis Green on the left and Luke McDonald returned in place of the working Will Bates, meaning the versatile Alex Parkes found himself at the back again. A dry day turned into a constant drizzle as kick-off approached meaning the now green playing surface developed a zip which would hopefully aid our passing game.
Louie Barrett had an early effort from the edge of the box saved at head height by Owusu Kyeremateng, whilst Barrett was soon on defensive duties as he chased Andre Olukanmi who had found himself in lots of space down our right and the Cooks man brought him down just outside the box. The free-kick was whipped in and Mitch White did enough to ensure Powfil Raposo couldn’t get a clean header just beyond the near post. Josh Jones looked to be clear through when he latched on to Ben Gough’s clipped ball over the top, but very good defending by Nathaniel Beecher meant he wasn’t unable to get in a shot.
The Cooks drew first blood on 11 minutes when White fed Barrett just outside the right corner of the box and he skinned his marker Keelan Shand and whipped in a cross that Luke McDonald met on the volley to net his first goal for the club from close range. Raposo broke into the box down the other end but seemed hesitant to shoot and when the ball came back over Regan Saunt caught it cleanly. Jones was put through again and made it into the box but couldn’t make space for a shot, then back down the hotel end Olukanmi got goal side of Parkes only to be denied by a great challenge from Brad Marshall inside the box. The corner bounced a couple of times in the area and Raposo missed his kick from close range leaving a relieved Saunt to gather the ball inside his 6-yard box. A good run from Barrett was followed by dangerous ball across the penalty area that Jones got his foot too, but the ball looped into the air and went over the top, with the Cooks striker then becoming entangled in the back of the net.
Irish levelled things up on 22 minutes from a corner on the left. They won the initial header with Marshall blocking it on the line, but Raposo pounced with a powerful strike from close range that neither Saunt or the covering defender could prevent from crossing the goal-line. Saunt did deny Raposo minutes later when the striker muscled his way into the box forcing the Cooks keeper to make a decent save, but on 27 minutes he was given no chance at all when a superb delivery from the right picked out an unmarked Ryan Smith who smashed it first time high into the net from deep inside the box. We were only behind for a minute though as Briggs put the ball in from the left, McDonald touched it on and Jessi Obeng steered it goalward. The keeper dived down to his left and actually got his gloves on to the ball, but he couldn’t keep it from creeping over the line to make the score 2-2.
Raposo’s strong running continued to cause the Cooks defence problems and it was Marshall again who covered with a very timely tackle as the Irish striker shaped to shoot. Nathan Smith sent in a dangerous free-kick from in front of his own team’s dug-out, but Raposo failed to get a vital touch in front of Saunt who gathered the ball. In the 38th minute Barrett played the ball up to Obeng whose first touch sent Jones clear of his man and this time he outpaced his marker to get just inside the box where he steered the ball low to the keeper’s right as he came off his line, sending it just inside the post before it nestled comfortably into the back of the net. Very well made and taken goal from the Cooks who now held the lead for the second time of the match in this topsy-turvy affair in Fenny Stratford.
The joy was again fairly quickly ended when MK grabbed an equaliser on 42 minutes, but this time they needed the luck of the Irish to do so. We had been caught a little square at the back as the ball was played through leaving Saunt with no option but to run out of his area to clear, but unfortunately the keeper slipped at the vital moment leaving Olukanmi totally clear and he slotted the ball into the unguarded net. Whilst everybody will probably point the finger at the unfortunate keeper on this one, it should be pointed out that we had sold ourselves short with a poor pass that placed us in this predicament in the first place. With all these goals flying in, it was imperative that we saw this half out without conceding again, but on 44 minutes we failed to pick out Matt Cooke’s run into the far post from a corner and he had the simple task of heading home from close range and putting his side 4-3 up just before the break. We pushed hard for another equaliser with Barrett battling to find White whose low ball across the 6-yard box was gathered by the keeper before Obeng could get there, then Obeng nodded the ball onto McDonald inside the box the box on the right, but his ball across the area was cut out. The final chance of the half saw Jones drive into the box on the left where he hit a low shot that Kyeremateng took comfortably. Seven goals in the first 45 minutes is pretty rare at this level of football and now it was a case of waiting to see if the respective managers would tighten up those defences for the second half.
HALF-TIME; IRISH 4 COOKS 3
No changes for either side at the break and it was the home side who settled quickest. Saunt took a Cooke cross into his chest, then got down to take Ryan Smith’s low cross, whilst Gough did well to rob Brooks on the edge of the box as he broke through. The first subs came a minute before the hour when Terry Shrieves made a double swap with Raposo (who had been struggling after a heavy fall) and Brooks made way for Oluwanimilo Ajigbolamu and Sam Olawale. The Cooks first chance of the half came when Obeng nipped in from behind his man to touch the ball round the keeper, but his low attempt at goal from a tight angle on the right lacked any pace and the covering defender was able to take a touch before clearing his area. The first change for the Cooks saw Louie Martin replace the hard-working Luke Andrews in midfield, this coming on 61 minutes.
The Cooks sub was soon in the action, seeing his shot from the edge of the box blocked and when Briggs played it back into the near post, Martin tried an overhead kick that went right over the 6-yard box where Barrett won us a corner. Ryan Smith tried his luck from outside the box, but it not only went over, it also cleared the protective netting behind the goal and hit someone’s car in the far reaches of the car park. A long throw from Gough caused some issues for the home defence with Obeng having the best chance, but the Irish defence cleared it off their goal-line before we made our second change of the night with 20 minutes remaining as Luca Iaciofano replaced Jones. White committed a foul wide on the right and for some reason Beecher threw him to the ground, with the Irish player being shown the yellow card by referee Paul-Valentin Mihalache.
On 75 minutes the Cooks drew level again when Parkes intercepted a cross-field ball deep inside his own half and made ground before releasing Obeng with a defence splitting pass and the Cooks striker kept his cool to slip the ball past the out-coming keeper and into the back of the net. 4-4 with a quarter of an hour left to play. Olukanmi almost put the home side back in front when he cut inside from the right and his low shot took a bit of a deflection off a defender, but Saunt threw himself across to touch the ball around the post with an excellent save. From the ensuing corner Cooke had a chance at the far post, but Saunt was again the hero as he dived bravely to block his close-range shot. This was the final action for the Irish centre-back as he was immediately replaced by Lloyd Kpamber.
Great defending by Beecher stopped Obeng from making use of a ball over the top, but we became unstuck on 85 minutes as Irish took the lead for the third time on the night from the penalty spot. Gough had done well to block an Ajigbolamu shot in the middle of the box, but the ball looped up into the air off of him and although Saunt came out to try and punch the ball clear, he only found the face of the Irish striker who was flattened as he did so. Ryan Smith had the penalty duties once his unfortunate teammate had received treatment and was back on his feet and he waited to see which way the keeper moved before coolly slotting the ball home. We had five minutes plus added time left to try and find another equaliser and a great ball from McDonald played Obeng into the box on the left, but his low shot across the keeper went just the wrong side of the far post. Ajigbolamu made a strong run into the box and it took a combination of Marshall and Gough to keep him out, whilst the Cooks had a late chance from another long Gough throw that Marshall nodded on, but the ball bounced off the shins of Iaciofano and rolled wide. MK consumed time well with the clock already over 90 minutes with the impressive Olukanmi making way for veteran striker Dom Lawless, then keeper Kyeremateng Owusu was shown the yellow card for taking too long with a goal-kick, although I have to say this was rather harsh on him.
The five-game unbeaten run comes to an end, but we have the chance to start another one when we host Long Buckby on Saturday afternoon. A real thriller for the fans tonight with nine goals and the Cooks management team will probably feel they had done enough to earn a draw and it isn’t often you score four goals and end up on the losing side after all. Man-of-the-match for me tonight goes to Jessi Obeng, whose double strike took him onto six so far for the season.
MK IRISH; 1. Owusu Kyeremateng 2. Shaheim Ward 3. Keelan Shand © 4. Nathan Smith 5. Matthew Cooke (sub 14. Oluwanimilo Ajigbolamu 59) 6. Nathaniel Beecher 7. Andre Olukanmi (sub 12. Dom Lawless 90+3) 8. Ryan Smith 9. Powfil Raposo (sub 15. Lloyd Kpamber 78) 10. Luke Gardner 11. Stephen Brooks (sub 16. Sam Olawale 59). Sub not used; 17. Mo Echchafki.
Yellow cards; Beecher (73) Violent conduct. Kyeremateng (90+3) Time wasting.
COOKS; 1. Regan Saunt 2. Alex Parkes 3. Kodi Briggs 4. Luke Andrews (sub 16. Louie Martin 61) 5. Brad Marshall 6. Ben Gough © 7. Louie Barrett 8. Luke McDonald 9. Josh Jones (sub 17. Luca Iaciofano 70) 10. Mitch White 11. Jessi Obeng. Subs not used; Callum Farmer 14. Dylan Carlin 15. Lewis Green.
Referee; Paul-Valentin Mihalache
Assts; Sam Waterhouse & Regan Beaumont