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Tuesday 20th February 2024



Hamilton Park,

Sandhills Avenue,




KO 7-45 pm

The Cooks renew acquaintances with old friends Leicester Nirvana who returned to our division in the summer after a few seasons in the north half of the UCL with the Cooks hoping to improve on their poor record at Hamilton Park since our hosts moved into their own ground a few years ago. We have played there twice in the league with both games ending in home wins with our last visit back in 2018/19 seeing us beaten 2-1. Jordan Smith had given the home side a half-time lead through his 29th minute penalty and a great finish from Sam Burton had doubled their advantage nine minutes into the second half. The Cooks actually played pretty well that day and perhaps should have got something out of the game, but they could only manager to pull one back through Ryan Dove’s effort just after the hour and Nirvana held on to take the points. Our first trip there the previous year came in our final game of the season with the Cooks on an unbeaten run, but that was all but gone by the break as two goals from Jordon Nelson and one from Shaquille Master left us three goals down at the before half-time. Player-coach Mark Rawle, a much-travelled striker, came off the bench late on in what I believe was to be his last game as a player and almost inevitably he popped up with their fourth goal in stoppage time, slotting home from the penalty spot. It finished 4-0 in what was very much a night to forget for the Cooks. We have played them once since Nirvana’s divisional switch, a pre-season friendly very early in Scott Carlin’s initial season, and we came back from 3-0 down to earn a draw, so perhaps our luck is changing and the first points at Hamilton Park are now finally due. Louie Barrett’s double (65 & 81) sandwiching Mitch White’s 79th minute goal giving us a creditable 3-3 draw in Leicester.

Times have been tough for our hosts since their move back south in the summer and they currently sit bottom of the table, although they have reduced the gap between them and Desborough to just two points after being well adrift a few months ago. In fact, the bottom two met at the Waterworks Field on Saturday and with the game well into stoppage time Nirvana were about to lift themselves above their hosts, but Desborough salvaged a point thanks to former Cooks captain Adam Randall’s 94th minute goal. Nirvana twice led in the game with Tom Stockley giving a 7th minute lead that Josh Drain cancelled out eight minutes later, but it really did look like Tayo-Sharn Alexander-Tucker’s 71st minute effort was going to give them their first win in seven games until the last gasp Ar Tarn equaliser. They have now drawn their last three league games with Saturday’s share of the spoils following on from a 1-1 draw at Daventry and a similar outcome in a very tricky game at promotion challengers March. Their last victory came at home to Easington in mid-December when they dispatched the Banbury side 3-1 at Hamilton Fields and with Desborough playing at home to Lutterworth at the same time as this fixture, Nirvana will be doing all they can to make sure they haven’t lost any ground come 10 o’clock.

With this in mind, the Cooks will have to be on their game from the first whistle if they are to get themselves back to winning ways after a run of two draws and a defeat from their last three games. Confidence should be good though after Jack Connor’s header secured a point at in form Yaxley on Saturday after we had let slip the early lead Earl Atat had given us, but a 2-2 draw was probably a fair reflection over the whole ninety-minutes. Scott carlin will have centre-half Brad Ilunga available again after his one match ban and will also have the call on Ben Dimond whose ban for his red card at Yaxley won’t start until the GNG game at home this coming Saturday. He will be without keeper John Meadows though as he is away for a few days which is ultra-ironic as he actually lives in Leicester. Biff has moved quickly to bring back former keeper Regan Saunt to the club from Histon and he will take over between the sticks for this game. Nirvana will be without their leading scorer Jordan Nelson who sits out the second game of a three match ban.


Regan Saunt returns in goal for the Cooks after re-signing from Histon.

Centre half Brad Ilunga is available again for the trip to Leicester.


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