Jack Connor’s first goal for the club gave the Cooks a 1-0 win at Bedfont as they made progress in the F.A Vase, but the afternoon is tainted somewhat as Bailey Weatherly suffered a double break of his arm.
Saturday 26th November 2023
ISUZU F.A VASE – FIRST ROUND QUALIFYING
BEDFONT (0) 0 COGENHOE UNITED (1) 1
Scott Carlin made several changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Histon last time out with new signing Earl Atat making his debut at right-back, Damian Osoimoejiokhian coming in for Kieron Mobbs at left-back, Alex Parkes returning in the centre of the park and Charlie Pearson making his first start for the club. Mobbs and Stan Channell had to make do with a place on the bench while Dalton Leon was unavailable and Manny Mpambi injured. Bedfont, fresh from a 5-1 midweek win at Brook House, brought in keeper Sam Bersey who had missed out in midweek after an injury last Saturday that had required 25 stitches in and around his mouth, skipper Luke Bersey and Sekani McCalmon into his starting line-up, but two of his goal scorers missed out with Andy Gnabre on the bench and Jayden Gibson not in the squad. With the M1 and M25 misbehaving as usual, the coach took three hours to reach the ground, not the ideal start to the day it must be said, but they showed no signs of jetlag as the planes came into land over Bedfont at very regular intervals. We also had some thunder to compete with the roar of the jet engines and while several lightning strikes lit up the regular rolls of blackened clouds, the game wasn’t affected with the worst of the downpours missing the ground. Thankfully. The pitch was in good condition and must have needed a lot of work after the horrendous wild fires that tore through the area during last year’s heatwave and left over half of the pitch charred, although the perimeter fencing and trees at the bottom end of the ground still bear the blackened scars of the devastation they suffered at that time, although nature is already trying to rebuild the wooded area before the ground.
Bedfont started the game confidently and as expected, came out all guns blazing with their home advantage over the Cooks who play their football one step higher. Ben Dimond misjudged the bounce of the ball and caught Cyril Ocansey 25-yards from goal and Luke Bersey hit a great free-kick that Adam North dived to his left to push around the post with a save of equal quality, as the first rolls of thunder echoed around the Borough of Bedfont. The lively McCalmon made a run right through the middle before finding Morgan Grout who set up Ocansey to his left and the Bedfont leading scorer forced another save out of North, then Grout delivered a dangerous cross to pick out Ocansey at the back post and he got his header on target, but it didn’t trouble North.
The Cooks first chance of the game came after Pearson played a great ball to Dylan Wilson on the left edge of the box, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post, however the Cooks grabbed the lead on 14 minutes as Jack Connor grabbed his first goal for the Cooks. It was a very good move too as Osoimoejiokhian found Wilson out on the left and he turned the ball inside to Connor on the edge of the box. The striker played a neat one-two with Pearson with the return pass putting him clear through inside the box and although Sam Bersey got his hand to the shot, he couldn’t stop it finding the back of his net. 1-0 to the Cooks and it must be said somewhat against the run of play at this point in the game.
Buoyed by the goal, the Cooks now got themselves firing and went looking for number two. A great challenge by Callum Farmer started a move with Parkes finding Pearson 25-yds out and his shot wasn’t too far wide of the target. Josh Jones fired over a powerful shot from the edge of the box after another good Cogenhoe attack, then some good work by Osoimoejiokhian gave Parkes the chance to play Wilson in, but he put just a little too much on his pass and it skidded through to Bersey. Down the other end, a very dangerous quickly taken corner from McCalmon saw North do really well to stretch and touch the ball away from under his bar. Parkes fed Wilson and he swept the ball right to Jones who cut inside the box and tried to send over a low cross that was cut out, then Osoimoejiokhian played a good ball to Wilson wide on the left and he whipped over a low cross that was booted out for a throw in not too far from the corner flag. A deep Farmer cross was held well by Bersey, then the other Bersey, Luke, took out Osoimoejiokhian down by the corner flag and was maybe a little lucky not to be cautioned. This was on 30 minutes and was also the time that the home side were forced to make a change with Kieran Brown showing the possible effects of concussion after unfortunately getting the ball in his face in a challenge, so Kevin Kumi entered the field as a direct replacement in the right back position.
Farmer sent in the free-kick and it was a very good delivery that Connor just couldn’t get a touch on and the ball went right across to Atat who cut back inside the box, but his cross was cut out before it reached any of his teammates in the centre. Ocansey spooned over from the edge of the box under pressure from Atat, then a deep cross from Grout was headed at goal by Sam Molyneaux, but he couldn’t beat North. Molyneaux sent over a dangerous ball from the left that somehow avoided everyone, while Grout fired well over from 25-yards out. A turn followed by a thunderous shot from Jones was palmed wide for a corner by Bersey, then a howler at the back after pressure from Connor saw Wilson given the ball on the edge of the box with the keeper stranded and it looked like the Cooks were about to double their lead as Wilson rolled the ball into the empty net, but his effort agonisingly hit the inside of the post and went back across the goal to safety. Osoimoejiokhian caught McCalmon late with a challenge, but referee Josh Howard was consistent as he kept his cards in his pocket and decided a warning was to be the only punishment, just as he had done earlier with the home skipper’s foul on the same Cooks player. The home side looked like they were about to grab an equaliser deep into the seven minutes of stoppage time when a long ball from Kumi saw Ocansey nip in behind and he calmly lobbed the ball over the head of North and I had the perfect angle to see it was destined to go just inside the post, but the pitch had other ideas and it changed direction to go just wide instead. Touch of the Shane Warnes about the spin off the wicket, sorry, pitch and Jack Connor’s first goal for the Cooks separated the teams as we headed into the break.
Half-Time; Bedfont 0 Cooks 1
No changes for either side at the interval and Osoimoejiokhian made a good run down the left before seeing his attempted cross cut out at the expense of a corner kick. Farmer’s delivery was won in the air by a defender and Bedfont broke quickly with Jones defending well to stop Benjamin Bell getting clear through on goal. Biff was the first person to be shown the yellow card six minutes into the second half and he was to be joined by Batts late in the game. Farmer (Cal that is) was lucky not to join his gaffer after checking the run of McCalmon who burst past him just inside his own half, while Harley Mallard did well to get up and beat Bell in the air following a corner. Just as they had done in the first half, the home side enjoyed the better of the opening fifteen minutes of the second, although this time the Cooks defence had protected their goal well leaving North with a quieter time between the sticks. Dimond played a long ball that Connor flicked into the path of Wilson just inside the box and although he went down under the challenge of Kumi, the referee waved away his penalty appeals, From where I sat I would have been disappointed if a penalty had been given against us in this situation if I’m honest.
Grout sent over a cross from the right that found Ocansey unmarked, but his header was off target just before the Cooks made their first change as Bailey Weatherly replaced Pearson after 63 minutes. Atat won a corner on the right that Farmer sent into the box and although it was just over Dimond it was only half-cleared with Jones sending it back toward the far post where Wilson won it in the air forcing Bersey into a very good save, but he could only parry the header and it fell to Connor inside the six-yard box, but he couldn’t double his tally as he could only steer the ball over the bar with the goal gaping. The game was end-to-end now with Jones winning a corner after weaving into the box, then Bell’s pace was matched by Atat at the expense of a corner as the home broke quickly. Mallard cut out a cross with the ball falling to Charlie Lawrence in the centre of the box, but North managed to touch his low shot around the post. Lewis Green replaced Atat who had made a solid debut for the Cooks today with 68 minutes gone, then Grout headed over a Bersey corner.
Dimond won a challenge and found Osoimoejiokhian who got into the box before teeing up Wilson on his right, but the Cooks leading scorer couldn’t add to his tally as he fired over the top with his first time effort. Jones and Green worked the left side of the box and although the former’s ball was just behind Wilson, Weatherly arrived to hit a first time shot from the edge of the box that was blocked in the crowded penalty area. Farmer was shown the yellow card for a foul on 71 minutes, then Kirk Herbert came on up front for Bedfont in place of Bell with fifteen minutes left of the ninety. Weatherly was fouled a foot in from the touchline as he cut across into the box and either the heavy landing or a collision with the perimeter post left him clearly in trouble with his arm and the referee quickly called on Piers Bodily to treat him. Sadly Bailey had broken his arm in two places and an ambulance was called, but I would like to say thank you to Bedfont physio Michael Bobo for rushing on to assist Piers with what was clearly a bad injury and to referee Josh Howard for getting involved and trying to help when most officials would simply have stood and watched. (Bailey will be out for 6-8 weeks with the break and I wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on the field soon). Would like to add that there was nothing malicious, although it was a foul. It was just one of those unfortunate accidents that sadly occur from time to time in a football match.
Jamie Hall took his place with 80 minutes played, but there would be getting on for ten minutes to add at the end of the game as we restarted. Farmer was a couple of feet over with a 25-yard free-kick just before Bedfont made their final change with Grout making way for Chris Martin-Thomas after 86 minutes. Ocansey drilled a dangerous ball across the 6-yard box just before Jones went down a little easily on the edge of his own box wanting a free-kick, but luckily McCalmon’s shot was weak and straight at North. A bit of a scramble inside the Cooks box saw the lads defend well as they put their bodies on the line, then a wicked cross from the right flank by Ocansey was watched all the way by North who was forced to touch the ball over his own bar as it swung and dipped. Hall was booked a minute into stoppage time, either for dissent or time wasting just before Herbert worked into the box on the right, but blazed over the top. Hall flicked a long ball on and received it back from Wilson on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t get his balance as he tried to shoot at goal. A great tackle by Jones on Molyneaux inside the box denied the Bedfont left-back a chance and when the ball was played up field, Hall got to it before the keeper just outside the box before being taken out. Could have been red I guess, but there were covering defenders and the referee dished out his yellow card. Farmer put the free-kick wide of the keeper’s right hand post, but it didn’t matter as the final whistle blew and the Cooks move into the next round.
Firstly, I would like to say thanks to Bedfont for their hospitality today and they genuinely seem a great bunch of people and good luck to them for the rest of their season.
This was a solid and gutsy performance form the Cooks against a strong side who have a good mix of skill to back up their strength. It is still a learning curve for many of the Cooks youngsters and they showed some real maturity beyond their years on the field today. Earl Atat made a solid debut and I look forward to seeing more of him, while Charlie Pearson took his starting chance well with a good first half showing. There were a lot of good performances from the Cooks today and this was a real team effort making it very difficult to pick out a man-of-the-match if I’m honest. I am giving the nod to Callum Farmer who won vital challenges and tried to prompt attacks whenever he could, just needs to get those free-kicks on target now. There were several runners-up today though with Ben Dimond perhaps a little unlucky not to take the accolade with another top defensive display. My thoughts are with Bailey tonight though after his horrible injury and ending up in a London hospital, but hopefully he will be back home now and at least comfortable as he starts his road to recovery, we do have a good squad, but we will definitely miss him in the next couple of months. Final word goes to Piers Bodily. Physios are the unsung heroes of a non-league football club and he was superb in the way he dealt with the injury today.
We won’t know our opponents in the next round until around 5pm tomorrow as Winslow United don’t host fellow SSML D1 side Burton Park Wanderers until Sunday afternoon.
Bedfont; 1. Sam Bersey 2. Kieran Brown (sub 17. Kevin Kumi 30) 3. Sam Molyneaux 4. Luke Bersey © 5. Charlie Lawrence 7. Sekani McCalmon 8. Kildane Tesfu 9. Benjamin Bell (sub 6. Kirk Herbert 75) 10. Cyril Ocansey 11. Morgan Grout (sub 14. Chris Martin-Thomas 86). Subs not used; 12. Andy Gnabre 13. Kacper Zapieracz (GK).
Cooks; 1. Adam North 2. Earl Atat (sub 14. Lewis Green 68) 3. Damian Osoimoejiokhian 4. Alex Parkes 5. Ben Dimond 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Josh Jones 8. Callum Farmer 9. Jack Connor 10. Charlie Pearson (sub 16, Bailey Weatherly 63 – sub 15. Jamie Hall 80)) 11. Dylan Wilson. Subs not used; 12. Kieron Mobbs 17. Dylan Carlin 18. Stan Channell.
Referee; Josh Howard (Mitcham)
Assts; Anthony Matthew (Wembley) & Mark Barber (London)
Photos will follow on the Cogenhoe United Facebook page.