A battling performance in Banbury saw the Cooks end their 6 match winless run.
Saturday 18th September 2021
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
EASINGTON SPORTS (0) 0 COGENHOE UNITED (0) 1
Darren Long took charge of his first game as we made the long trip west to Banbury and the Addison Road home of Easington Sports. It has definitely changed somewhat since my last visit several years ago in their Hellenic League Division One days with a seated stand, cover behind one goal, hard standing and a fence around the ground amongst the most significant ground improvements they have made. After the team had played so well at Rugby in midweek the new gaffer kept things the same as much as he could with the only change to the starting line-up being Tom Wakley coming in for the departed Faris Rhaman. Stepping up to the bench for the first time was Freddie Shaw, one of the promising starlets from our current U18 squad.
We faced a problem before we even had the teamsheets handed in as referee Ollly Potter informed us that one of his assistants has pulled out of the game late on, so we agreed to someone from the home club running the line as they phoned around to find a free official, but Martin, a neutral who had merely come along to watch a game at a new ground for him, came forward as a qualified referee and took the flag in the junior position. We are extremely thankful to you Martin and just maybe he might be reading this report, you never know.
With three officials and plenty of players the game kicked off on a very hot late summer’s day with the sun burning down on the ground. The intrepid home official with shovel in hand had managed to clear all the fox droppings off the playing field and the game got away bang on time. It was a slow start to proceedings with Sports winning an early free-kick near the left corner of our box and although the delivery looked decent, it evaded everyone and went harmlessly wide. Will Bates lifted a central free-kick into the box where Adam Doyle rose above Rico Alexander to punch clear but indoing so he also collided with his centre-back Bradley Cox. The Sports man needed treatment and caried on, but he was clearly groggy with this head injury.
Jack Riley slipped the ball down the line for Jordan Orosz, but Tom Smith covered well and cut it out, then Chief Boateng got away from his man 25-yards out and tried a shot, but it was blocked by a covering defender. Moments later Dylan Wilson turned and fired in a shot from a few yards outside the box that went just the wrong side of the post, then Bates played the ball up to Wilson in the box, Cox won the header and Wakley was beaten to the loose ball by a strong tackle by Adam Taylor. Piers Walton made run at goal only to be stopped by a very good challenge by Alexander before he could break into the box, but Jack Dark did manage to get a shot in from the touch-line that had Craig Foxall on his toes as it flew into the side-netting.
An Orosz pass to Wilson had a little too much on it then down the other end a good ball to Joe Eyre on the edge of our box saw him turn and shoot, but good defending once again from Alexander saw him block his effort. Some pressure at the clubhouse end saw Cogenhoe get the ball into the box a few times before it came out to Jamie Mastropierro 20-yards out and hit a good shot that forced Doyle to dive low to his left and push the ball away from just inside his post. Bates went for goal from distance but didn’t trouble the keeper, then Wilson battled for the ball with Cox 8-yards out and side-footed for goal, but the ball hit the wheel on the portable goal and rolled along the touchline. Wilson gave chase and Doyle ran after him before sliding in to challenge, there were a few shouts for a penalty, but referee Ollie Potter was well placed to say the keeper had won the ball and we had a corner. Bates took it and it came off a defender’s head for another on the other side. This time Josh Adams swung in a beauty to the far post, but Riley couldn’t get around his header and was adjudged to have fouled his marker anyway.
Dark nipped in at the near post to get a touch on to James Watt’s low cross only for the ball to loop up and over the bar, then Foxall was calm as he joined in with the footballing theme as he wrong-footed a forward inside his own box before finding a team mate. Boateng became the first player to go into the book on 33 minutes for an aggressive aerial challenge. I personally felt he was unlucky as he was simple the strongest of the two as both players went up for the header. Orosz made a cross-field run before laying it left to Orosz, who played it into Wilson’s feet. The striker found Mastropierro on the edge of the box and he tried to roll it back to Wilson, but it had too much on it and the chance was gone,
Bates played a nice ball to Wilson on the left, but his low cross was cut out. Bates took the resulting corner that Alexander challenged for in the air which resulted in some head-tennis in the box before Wakley steered a header on target, but the dropping ball had nothing on it and he couldn’t generate enough power to worry Doyle. Orosz dodged a couple of challenges before shooting, but his effort was blocked while a good run by Walton saw him get to the edge of the box but his shot was just wide. The half finished with a good move that involved Adams, Dan Mortimer and Boateng that ended with Wakley firing wide from just outside the box with the final kick of the half.
Half-time; Sports 0 Cooks 0
There was one change at the break with Easington’s Cox making way for Damian Fountain as was still feeling the effects of that early bang on the head. Orosz had the first attack of the second half as he broke down the right, but his cross was too high for anyone to get near, then a lovely ball from Wilson was controlled and crossed well by Boateng on the left. Wakley rose to win the header and it flicked off a defender’s head and would have dropped just under the bar at the far post had Doyle not managed to stretch and tip it over the bar. A dangerous ball from Watts to Walton came to nothing due to Alexander covering well just before Taylor was forced to limp from the field and be replaced by the legendary Ben Milner on 55 minutes.
Orosz found Mortimer in space and he carried the ball forward before shooting from 25-yards. His effort was wide of the mark but I can’t remember the last time I saw Morts have a shot. Riley played the ball up to Bates’ feet and he went past his man in the box before laying it back to Mastropierro on the edge and although his shot was on target, it didn’t really have any power behind it and it didn’t trouble Doyle at all. Bates fed Wilson in the box and he stepped to the side of Michael O’Regan, but the defender did well to get his leg in the way and as Easington broke, Mastropierro pulled his man back and was shown the yellow card on the hour. In a similar scenario down the other end Smith tripped Orosz as he broke away following an unsuccessful attack on the Cooks goal just a minute later and became the second player to go into the book.
Wilson took a dinked pass from Mastropierro and held off the attentions of O’Regan before shooting with the ball taking a deflection off a defender. Assistant referee Andy Halladay flagged for the corner, but the referee hadn’t seen or heard the flick and overruled him by awarding a goal-kick. Boateng held the ball up nicely on the left and found Wilson in the box but his shot lacked power and then we saw the final sub for the home side as another player left the field through injury. This time it was Watts hobbling into the dug-out and Jack Fountain taking his place. A Wakley cross was steered back across the box by Wilson but wouldn’t fall for Bates, then an Adams free-kick was headed behind for a corner. Adams’ delivery was superb but somehow neither Alexander or Bates could get that vital touch in the 6-yard box that would have given us the lead.
Sports sent over a couple of decent corners with the first seeing an O’Regan shot flick off a Cooks player and go inches wide whilst down the other end a decent shot from Boateng was well held by the keeper. Wilson beat his man before sending a great low ball across the face of goal, Boateng just couldn’t get there, but we won a free-kick in a dangerous place when Wakley went down under a challenge from Smith with the linesman flagging for a pull on the Cooks man. Adams’ sent it in to the box and Wilson rose to flick it on with his head and the ball dropped just under the bar in the far corner. 81 minutes played and we had the lead as a very happy Dylan Wilson wheeled away to celebrate his goal as once again Josh Adams had supplied a superb set-piece.
Foxall had to come out to the corner of his area to claim the ball before Damian Fountain could get there just before Cogenhoe won a free-kick near the corner flag on the left. Bates took it short to Mastropierro and with the home players expecting him to keep it in the corner, he turned quickly inside to go past the first man before side-stepping a second challenge and sending a dinked cross to the far post. Boateng did manage to rise and get his head to the ball, but it was just too high for him to get over it enough to get it on target. A Sports free-kick saw Foxall make a great punch under pressure from Harry Walters, then the Cooks keeper was in the right place to save O’Regan’s pretty-much free header from a corner and the referee blew time and we could celebrate our first win in seven games.
A winning start for Daz and Steve, four points from two games and confidence is rising again on the field after that run of five straight losses. Everyone fought for the cause and gave 100% and I believe they deserved their win today, but we still have some way to go. We have a very talented bunch of lads, some of which are still new to the senior game, but the last couple of games have reminded us of what we are capable of and what we have to look forward too. Two goals in two games For Dylan Wilson and great to see that smile back on his face and this style of play will surely see him score a lot more goals in future games, while the addition of Chief Boateng looks a great signing as he finds his feet in the team. A clean-sheet is also important and defensively we were very good again today. Rico Alexander, Jack Riley and Dan Mortimer seem to work well together and didn’t really allow the home forwards many chances at all, whilst Craig Foxall behind them was rock solid again. It must be pointed out that although we conceded 12 goals in 3 games during that spell, Foxall had actually played well in all three which isn’t always recognised when you only see the results. Josh Adams continued on from his excellent showing at Rugby with another great performance and his set-pieces are as good as anybody’s, whilst on the other flank Jordan Orosz continues to give 100% and is a handful when he runs at defenders. Jamie Mastropierro managed to get forward more today and had a couple of shots on target, Will Bates gave his all as he always does and covers so much ground. One minute he is back challenging on the edge of our box, the next he is darting past a challenge and setting up a chance at the other. Finally Tom Wakley came back into starting line-up and again looked the part as an attacking midfielder and definitely adds something to the team when he starts. Special mention to Paddy Cichosz, Archie Culley and Freddie Shaw who spent the whole game on the bench. It is difficult for a manager to change things in a game like this when we are playing well and he doesn’t want to unsettle things, but the first two will be back in the starting eleven soon, whilst Freddie is definitely one for the future who will take his chance when it comes.
Man-of-the-match today (with no Debbie to help me) goes to Dylan Wilson. Not just for the winning goal, but for his movement both on and off the ball and his winning mentality.
Next up is a trip to local rivals Wellingborough Town on Tuesday night in the County Cup with the usual 7-45pm kick off as we aim to build on our last two results.
Easington; 1. Adam Doyle 2. Tom Smith 3. Joe Eyre © 4. Josh Rose 5. Michael O’Regan 6. Bradley Cox (sub 14. Damian Fountain HT) 7. Jack Dark 8. James Watts (sub 17. Jack Fountain 69) 9. Piers Walton 12. Adam Taylor (sub 17. Ben Milner 55) 11. Harry Walters Subs not used. 13. Jake Butler (GK) 16. Korben Haden.
Cooks; 1. Craig Foxall 2. Jordan Orosz 3. Josh Adams 4. Dan Mortimer 5. Jack Riley 6. Rico Alexander 7. Will Bates 8. Jamie Mastropierro © 9. Dylan Wilson 10. Chief Boateng 11. Tom Wakley. Subs not used; 12. Paddy Cichosz 14. Archie Culley 15. Freddie Shaw.
Referee; Oliver Potter
Assts; Andy Halliday and Martin (who had just come along to watch and kindly volunteered to run the line)