The Cooks Reserves lost 1-2 to their MK Irish counterparts, but the first team secured their first pre-season win.
Saturday 3rd July 2021
COGEHOE UNITED Reserves (0) 1 MILTON KEYNES IRISH Reserves (1) 2
Cooks scorer; JJ McCarthy 84 mins.
Kevin Squirrell, this season assisted by Chris Hewett, put out an extremely young team to face a very experienced and much bigger looking Irish reserves team for their first outing of the season and they can be proud of the performance they put up, despite the 1-2 defeat. MK featured a number of players who had been first team regulars last season and had won promotion up to the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division so it looked like we would be up against it, but we battled hard and played some good football along the way and were never overrun despite having two sixteen year-olds in midfield and up against players with years of experience and in some cases almost double their size.
The visitors took the lead after 17 minutes when a free kick from Liam Smyth from next to the du-outs went over everybody’s heads and fell to a totally unmarked Jack Clarkson at the far post and he steered home his header from close range. We forced a save out of the Irish keeper with a free-kick from a young trialist recently released by Aston Villa (sorry, don’t know his name but they were calling him Shad, apologies if that isn’t his actual name), as he made the keeper dive low to his left to push the ball away. We gave away a penalty early in the second half but Clarkson fired his spot-kick well over the bar.
Kai Hanley, in goal for the second half, made two very good saves to deny the lively number 18 for the visitors, while a great block on the line by one of our U16s players denied the same player. With six minutes remaining we drew level against the run of play when JJ McCarthy got his first sniff of goal after Irish failed to clear their lines and he fired it home from deep inside the box. JJ hadn’t seen that much of the ball but he is a real natural goalscorer and grabbed his chance when it finally came along. Great to see him back in a Cogenhoe shirt. The draw wasn’t to be though as three minutes later a lad named Johnny turned neatly in the box and rolled a shot wide of the wrong-footed keeper and just inside the post to give the Irish the win. Have to say they did deserve it on the day, but this wasn’t about the result, just getting the new lads playing together for the first time and getting the first match-fitness into those legs.
It was great to see Connor Brunton return to the club and the cultured centre-half was given the captain’s armband and I have to say he took on the role really well. There were a number of faces out there I didn’t recognise but of those not already mentioned that I did, Curtis Green and Elijah Noel both caught the eye with very decent performances. At the moment there is no game next Saturday for the Reserves as the trip to AFC Oakley has been moved back to Wednesday 28th July, probably with a 7pm kick-off.
COGENHOE UNITED (0) 1 MILTON KEYNES IRISH (0) 0
Archie Elmore 72
There were a number of changes forced upon Craig Adams late in the week, but he still managed to put out a very decent squad of 16 for the second game of the afternoon. Missing were Faz Rahman, Kobi Bivens, Jack Daldy, Michael Cirelli, Will Russell and Anton Urso, but he was able to call on Harry Darnell who is back from University at the moment.
Cooks started brightly and an early Tom Wakley low drive was saved at the near post, then a well taken Troy Johnson free-kick was headed the wrong side of the far post by Jack Riley. Lloyd Groves got his head to a couple of set-pieces but couldn’t keep them on target, whilst we defended well down the other end with Craig Foxall dominant in his own area.
All five Cooks subs came on at the break but we settled quickly despite a re-shuffle and Archie Elmore sent in a curling effort from the edge of the box that was just too high, then Darnell fed Wakley in the box and the keeper had to move quickly to dive at his feet and block his shot. Josh Adams delivered a great corner that saw Darnell rise highest and head the ball downwards, but George Shrieves was in the right place to clear it off the line.
We had luck on our side on 72 minutes as we took the lead. The assistant referee on the far side stopped to wave for a foul on a Cooks player, but the ref waved play on and they missed the fact that Wakely was actually a couple of yards offside on the right touchline and he took advantage with a great low cross that that Elmore calmly slotted home from inside the box.
Wakley cut inside and sent a shot over the bar from 25-yards out, then an Adams corner was headed just over by Darnell. A great run by Paddy Cichosz saw him win a corner that he took himself, mainly because he was standing there I think. He didn’t disappoint though with a lovely delivery that Darnell got to under pressure at the far post and again headed just over. Adams struck well from outside the box but it was too close to the keeper, then Adams made use of the space down the left with a great run into the box before trying to pick out Elmore with his pull-back, but a defender got a foot to it first and referee Sam Anderson brought things to an end.
Whilst pre-season isn’t all about results, it’s always nice to win games and personally I have always been very competitive whatever the challenge. I felt we had moved on a notch from last Monday’s game with Bedford and the squad is taking shape nicely with a number of players who can play in more than one position which is always a bonus. The only down-point from this afternoon was the injury to Harry Arundel, which appears to be a repeat of the one that kept him out for several months two seasons ago. Wishing Harry all the best for a full and speedy recovery.
Good luck to MK Irish and all the best to Terry Shrieves in the SSML Premier Division and also to Vinny Shrieves and Lea Coulter who take charge for the first time with the Reserves. I will almost certainly be over to see the first time for a midweek game at some point this season when the Cooks aren’t playing.
Next up for Cogenhoe is a home game against Biggleswade Town, one of the gaffer’s former clubs. This is an earlier than normal kick-off at 2pm next Saturday. I am unlikely to be there for this one as I am staying in Wales for a couple of days, so good luck to the lads in what will be a tough game against higher grade opposition.
Special thanks to Ian Blair for the BBQ. Flipping those burgers like a pro as he underlined the fact that he is still the self-confessed biggest tosser at the club…