Iaciofano celebrates his full debut with a goal, but Goody complete an double of late wins.
Saturday 2nd April 2022
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (0) 1 GODMANCHESTER ROVERS (1) 2
- Baulk 90+1 (pen)
Darren Long made three changes from the side that had drawn with Bugbrooke in midweek with both wing-backs Will Bates and Josh Adams returning after missing out through work commitments, whilst Luca Iaciofano was handed his first senior start up front as Jack Norman missed out through injury. It was certainly a changeable day as I left MK in bright sunshine with 11 degrees reading on the dashboard, but as I closed in on Brafield and my wipers worked hard to fend off the sleet it was no showing four.
The breeze was blowing from the village towards the car park today and although it certainly wasn’t windy by Compton Park terms, you could see the affect as it held up the ball as the Cooks kicked into it for the first half. Rovers tried to make use of it as they got the first attack under way and Matty Allan broke through the centre before hitting a shot from outside the box that wasn’t too far the wrong side of the post with less than ten twenty seconds played. The second effort at goal also came from Allan from a similar distance, but this time his volley bounced wide of the other post without causing any concern to Craig Foxall. Tom Wakley cut in from the left and whipped over a cross that Jamie Greygoose held comfortably, then Archie Culley switched play with a sweeping pass that met Will Bates run and he got into the box before winning the game’s first corner.
Wakley won an aerial challenge just beyond the corner of the box on the right and swivelled before hitting an early shot that was too close to the keeper to cause any real damage, but we were opened up at the other end as Alfie Warman fed Mohammed Akhtar deep inside of the box on the left, but Foxall saved his low shot with his feet. Culley very nearly played Ryan Archer clear with a clever pass that Frank Nzeh did well to get a touch to and hook away, then the visitors were dealt a blow when the lively Allan picked up an injury that saw him have to be replaced by Danny Baulk with just 14 minutes played. Archer recovered well to reclaim possession before Elmore slipped a great ball through to Wakley, but Greygoose did really well to save his shot from just inside the box as he came off his line, but the Cooks had the woodwork to thank in the next attack as Akhtar did well to cut inside from the left and beat his man before firing a low shot past Foxall as the keeper narrowed the angle, but luck was on our side as his effort struck the base of the post and came back into play.
Great play by Iaciofano on the right saw him lift the ball into the path of Elmore’s run into the box, but the defender did just enough to stop him getting a clear run at goal and the Cooks had to settle for a corner. Adams played it in to the near post and even though Wakley got up well to win the header, he couldn’t keep it under bar height. Foxall had to push away a powerful cross-shot from Akhtar, then the keeper launched a big drop-kick into the wind that a defender tried to nod back to his keeper, but Wakley nipped in behind him and managed to stretch to get a touch to the ball, Greygoose did exceptionally well not only to get to the ball, but to also hold on to it on the edge of his own box.
A good run into the box by Akhtar was ended by a timely tackle from Paddy Cichosz, but we weren’t able to stop the visitors from drawing first blood with 39 minutes played. We were caught in possession a few yards inside our own half and Ross Munro made himself some space twenty yards out before forcing a very good save out of Foxall with his powerfully struck effort from just outside the box, but Alfie Warman reacted the quickest and slammed the ball first time high into the now unguarded net from around ten yards out. The final few minutes of the half saw Godmanchester have the better of the attacking play, but we held firm at the back and headed into the break a goal down.
Half-time; Cooks 0 Godmanchester 1.
The sleet/hail had started to fall as we got the second half underway with the game still rather scrappy. Bates won a header at the back that Elmore helped on and Iaciofano sent a great ball over the defence for Wakley to run on to. The Cooks leading scorer broke into the box before cutting back inside, but Jack Dickerson had tracked him well and managed to block his shot as he hit it. A backwards pass put the visitors under some unnecessary pressure and Wakley got the better of Frank Nzeh to create a shooting chance, but his effort deflected off a defender and went the wrong side of the far post for a corner. Iaciofano broke through the centre and perhaps shooting wasn’t his best option as he was closed down quickly and although Wakley almost kept the ball in as he pressurised the defender, it went off him for a goal-kick.
Goddy’s second change saw Akhtar make way for Kian Harness with 61 minutes played just before Foxall got down well to save a low Warman shot from the edge of the box. Adams cut back to send a cross into the box from the right that saw Iaciofano jump well, but Greygoose managed to punch the ball clear from above his head, then Bates forced a good save out of the keeper with his low strike from the edge of the box. Iaciofano took the corner short and Culley played it into the box where Bates tried to pounce on the ball as it bounced off a defender, but he went to ground with a half-hearted penalty shout that referee Tom Dickens quite rightly waved away.
The scores were level though on 67 minutes though as Luca Iaciofano marked his full first team debut with a dream goal. Culley played a good free-kick into the box where Rico Alexander rose highest to head it back across the goal where Iaciofano had peeled off his man and ran in to steer the ball home from just inside the 6-yard box at the back post. A very well-worked goal from the Cooks and excellent vision, position and finishing from the Under-18s starlet. Really pleased for Luca who has thoroughly deserved his chance in the first team this season.
Culley clipped over a great central free-kick but sadly neither Archer or Wakley could get the ball under control to take advantage as the defence closed them down quickly, before we saw a flurry of subs, but not much else over the next ten minutes or so. Loz Hammond became the final sub for Rovers as he replaced the injured Munro, then Long brought on Vaughan for the injured Bates before giving Shad Reza his first team debut in place of Elmore for the final ten minutes of the game. Reza was quickly into the game as he transferred his weight quickly to allow him to slip the ball through for Iaciofano, but he put a little too much on his pass and Greygoose came off his line to gather the ball before the young Cooks striker could get there.
In fairness I think the game was now petering out into the draw I had predicted in my match preview yesterday, but we seemed to have other ideas as, not for the first time this season, we decided to press the self-destruct button. Alexander was booked for tripping his man as he got past him, but we survived the free-kick, then another foul (it did seem harsh) was hotly disputed with keeper Foxall leading the protests and receiving a telling off from the ref. The set-piece again came to nothing as the keeper dived on the ball just the far side of the post, but the assistant referee flagged to indicate the ball had already crossed the line for a corner. The keeper kicked the ball towards the corner flag but continued to remonstrate with the officials and this time it wasn’t just a warning as the yellow card came out and Foxall was sent to the sinbin with 87 minutes played. Dan Mortimer took the gloves and purple shirt for the remaining few minutes and will have pleased to be able to catch the ball at his near post with his first touch as the number one. Jack Riley came on to cover Mortimer’s defensive role with the unfortunate Iaciofano having to make way as we looked to hold out for a point, but we hadn’t finished shooting ourselves in the foot yet as with the game in stoppage time already, a Goddy player failed to control the ball inside the box and Riley inexplicably lunged in to an unnecessary tackle and brought him down in the box. Danny Baulk was handed the penalty kick duty and although it was far from a good one, Mortimer went the wrong way and the ball went past him at a very saveable height to win the game for the Hunts club.
Goddy had enjoyed the better of the first half, although Tom Wakley had been a thorn in their sides on a few occasions, but we had bounced back well and would have deserved the point had we not thrown it away so spectacularly in the dying moments of the game. We were off our best still and the game did have a bit of an end of season vibe to it for long periods today and the stop-start nature to our post-Christmas season hasn’t not helped us find any fluency. Hopefully April can see us reclaim that form though with a couple of midweeks and thankfully no more football-free Saturday’s as we try to pick ourselves up and fight for a top ten finish. My man of the match today goes to Archie Culley who played some great balls and perhaps on another day might have had a couple more assists to his name. Special mention to Luca Iaciofano who gave his all today and thoroughly deserved his goal. He is still learning the game at this level, but he a very exciting prospect who will be a big asset to the team next season. Tom Wakley has become Mr Consistent of late and worked tirelessly and could have added to his tally if luck had been on his side, whilst it’s the first time I have seen Ryan Archer in the team following his recent injury and he reminded us of what he adds to the midfield. Final mention to Shad Reza who came off the bench to make his first team debut. Those who have watched the U18s this season will no what he has to offer and is an unbelievable talent on the ball.
Next up for the Cooks is a trip to Leicestershire to face G.N.G Oadby Town a week today, but before that the Reserves host Daventry Town on Tuesday night and they are bound to bring a number of former Cooks players with them in their squad.
Cooks; 1. Craig Foxall 2. Will Bates (sub 12. Alex Vaughan 79) 3. Josh Adams 4. Dan Mortimer 5. Paddy Cichosz 6. Rico Alexander © 7. Archie Culley 8. Ryan Archer 9. Tom Wakley 10. Archie Elmore (sub 16. Shad Reza 80) 11. Luca Iaciofano (sub 14. Jack Riley 89). Sub not used; 15. Glenn Cakebread.
Yellow card; Alexander (84) Foul. Sin-bin; Foxall (87)
Godmanchester; 1. Jamie Greygoose © 2. Reece King 3. Jack Dickerson 4. Frank Nzeh 5. Isaac Moss 6. Michael King 7. Matty Allan (sub 14. Danny Baulk 14) 8. Alfie Warman 9. Ross Munro (sub 16. Lawrence Hammond 73) 10. Tommy Dear 11. Mohammed Akhtar (sub 12. Kian Harness 61). Subs not used; 15. Michael Baulk 17. Ollie Butler.
Referee; Tom Dickens.
Assts; Clinton Ormshaw & Gary Halliday.