Supersub Charlie McAuley grabs the late winner as Cogenhoe make it two on the trot in a thriller in Beds.
Thursday 4th November 2021
NORTHANTS SENIOR YOUTH LEAGUE-SOUTH
BIGGLESWADE TOWN YOUTH U18 (2) 3 COGENHOE UNITED U18 (2) 4
Waders; 35, 36, 69
Gary Fletcher was faced with eight players unavailable through either injury or illness for this trip as we saw Kieran Ashman given his first start and 15-year-olds Jak Robinson and Kacper Sosinski called up on the bench for the first time. The team still looked good though and they made the perfect start by taking the lead with just over a minute gone. It was a result of some good football from the lads which saw Noel battling to keep possession inside the box on the left before passing to Reza who darted past his man before cutting inside and placing a firm shot across the keeper from then angle of the 6-yard box and inside the far post. The Cooks continued to play some good football with Reza in particular standing out as he sprayed the passes around the field, but the Waders started to get into the game themselves and although they weren’t creating any chances, they were putting some pressure on the back line with Noel doing well on a couple of occasions to thwart them.
Noel almost played in Fletcher, but the ball ran through to the keeper, then Iaciofano took up play and released Fletcher down the right flank and he crossed early, but the keeper took the ball before it reached Ashman in the centre. Both the home side’s no.8 and Asante were given warnings by referee Chris Howes after committing fouls, but the next action saw Cogenhoe double their lead with 17 minutes played. Reza played the ball right to Iaciofano and he played a great first-time low ball across the box where Ashman took a touch to wrong foot his marker before hitting a sweet finish past the keeper from the centre of the box. Great move and finished like a pro by the 16-year-old.
A Reza corner caused all sorts of problems for the home defence which resulted in a real scramble at the back post where we had a couple of shots blocked and we may have been in this situation for a lot longer had the referee not blown his whistle as neither team could move the ball more than a couple of inches despite their full effort. Noel burst past a couple of players before laying it wide for Ashman, but his high cross saw the keeper come out and claim with a good clean take. The home side had the first shot on target direct from a free-kick, but it was straight at Grimshaw who wasn’t overly troubled, whilst down the other end a stray pass went straight to Iaciofano 25-yards out with his keeper now out of position, but the Cooks man put his shot well over the top. Iaciofano dinked a nice ball over the top for Fletcher, but his shot from just inside the box was blocked for a corner. Noel swung it in and Fletcher got up strongly to win the header, but it went through to the keeper. We should have gone three up when Iaciofano was put clear by Reza and he took the ball past the keeper nicely, but he took it back inside and rather than roll the ball into the far corner, he opted to blast it and hit it straight at the covering defender. Relieved after surviving this scare, the visitors went up the other end and scored twice inside a minute which really had come out of the blue. The first on 35 saw their no.8 ride a challenge before playing it through to the unmarked no.11 inside the box on the left and he hit a powerful shot that gave Grimshaw no chance, then sixty seconds later we left the no.9 unmarked in pretty much the same spot and he coolly placed his shot past the keeper. We seemed to be cruising at 2-0, but all of a sudden the impetus was with the home side.
Reza is normally a real danger from free-kicks, but he sent a 25-yarder sailing over the top and out of the ground, but he quickly atoned with a superb pass to pick out Asante’s run through the right channel, but a great challenge stopped him getting the ball into the box. 2-2 at the break which was a bit of a sickener for the Cooks after blowing a chance to go three up, but still all to play for in the second half.
The home side made a couple of changes at the break, but it was as you were for the Cooks. A lovely turn from Hawes was followed by a great ball from Reza to Iaciofano and his shot from the edge of the box was just wide of the far post, then the Cooks were shouting for a penalty when Fletcher appeared to have been brought down inside the box, but nothing was given. In all fairness it looked very similar to an incident at the same end in the first half where appeals were waved away, so perhaps these two decisions now cancelled each other out.
The home no.3 became the first player to be shown the yellow card after a foul on Reza after catching him late, but I think this was more down to the Cooks man’s speed of thought than anything malicious. Reza won the ball with a good challenge in the centre before playing it wide left to Ashman who sent over a cross that Iaciofano did well to get his head to, but not cleanly enough to trouble the keeper. The first change for the Cooks came on 58 minutes with Ben Hassan-Hussein replacing Ashman who had made an impressive full debut tonight. The sub went into a central position with Reza going out wide into Ashman’s role. Reza soon had the ball on the right and he played it inside for Iaciofano on the edge of the box, but his first touch was a tad heavy and the ball ran through to the keeper.
We were opened up by a quick break through the centre by the no.7 and he played the no.8 clear inside the box, but he didn’t generate enough power to beat Grimshaw who got down to save and then recovered quickly to gather the ball safely. The Waders no.9 so nearly gave his team the lead for the first time when he received the ball unmarked in pretty much the same spot that they had scored their first two goals from, but we had luck on our side when his low shot hit the far post and came back into play. The home no.16 was cautioned for a foul on 66 minutes much to the displeasure of a gentlemen in the stand who had been asking for Asante to be booked on a number of occasions. Burbidge came on for Hawes in a straight swap in midfield on 66 minutes and a minute later the Cooks had the lead once more. A deep free-kick from the right by Reza dropped just beyond the last man at the far post and Iaciofano timed his run to perfection as he rose to head past the stranded keeper. This was one of those goals where you sing the praises if you score it, but are disappointed with the marking if you concede it. Great goal in my opinion though.
The lead only lasted about ninety seconds though as we gave away a free kick and the no.8’s effort appeared to be easy for Grimshaw, but somehow it escaped him and went into the net. Hard on the young keeper who had done well up until this point, but errors in his place invariably lead to a goal when other’s mistakes are usually quickly forgotten. Hassan-Hussein tried to dink a shot into the far corner from just inside the box but put it wide whilst Biggleswade had the ball in the net but the flag had already been raised so it didn’t count. Charlie McAuley was given the last fifteen minutes in place of Iaciofano as we looked to snatch a winner and it turned out to be an inspired substitution as he put us back in front within four minutes of coming on.
There was perhaps a little a little controversy about it, although the goal itself was a perfectly good one. The Bigglewade skipper had gone down injured and did seem to be in pain as the home players called for the ball to be put out. The Cooks had possession on the opposite side of the pitch and Noel fed Hassan-Hussein down the right wing and he beat his man before pulling a low ball back across the box beating the defender in the middle and McAuley ran in to steer the ball at goal. It actually hit the base of the post, but the striker was easily first to it and gleefully fired the ball into the back of the net from a matter of inches to make it 4-3 in our favour. Any guilt about not putting the ball out for the stricken player can probably be forgotten though as he was able to continue the game with no apparent issues after the restart.
Hassan-Hussein forced the keeper to dive to his left to save his low shot with the keeper recovering brilliantly to deny McAuley a second goal from the rebound, then from Noel’s corner a defender got the first touch and in rebounded over the top off Allam. A great run through the centre by Fletcher saw him burst through and place his shot wide of the keeper from the edge of the box, but he got a little slice on it and it went wide of the far post. Noel was booked on 89 minutes, McAuley followed him on 90+3 and the home no.10 on 90+4 as the respective F.As boosted their coffers late on, but the Cooks had done enough to take the three points on the night.
A very entertaining game to watch, but a nervy one for Gary and Damien in the dug-outs I’m sure. Biggleswade gave us a great game tonight and could easily have folded early on after trailing 2-0, but they kept going and twice pulled themselves level on the night and deserve praise for their performance. The Cooks played some great football at times and dominated for spells, but the home side looked a threat on the break. The neutral may well have thought that a draw would have been a fair reflection of the game, but I felt we just edged it over the ninety minutes and am happy to take the three points.
Next game up is Rothwell Corinthians Development in the David Joyce Cup at Compton Park on Thursday 11th November 7-45 ko.
5-Nat Allam ©
12-Bradley Burbidge (66-Hawes)
15-Charlie McAuley (75-Iaciofano)
16-Ben Hassan-Hussein (58-Ashman)
Referee; Chris Howes
Assts; Simon Dutton & Freddie Dutton