Despite an excellent start from the Cooks, they quickly lost their way against a hungrier looking G.N.G team.
SATURDAY 3rd DECEMBER 2023
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
G.N.G OADBY TOWN (1) 3 COGENHOE UNITED (1) 1
Scott Carlin returned from his weekend in the North East, but his assistant Andy Batty is in New York so Nathan Gaunt once again made up the management team alongside Ryan Farmer. There were a few changes from the starting line-up that had done so well against Sphinx the week before with Ciaran Wells starting goal in place of the injured Ash Bodycote, Lewis Green coming in for Josh Adams who pulled out of the squad, Alex Parkes was given the nod over Luke Andrews and Luca Purse returned from suspension in place of Ben Gough. Harley Mallard and Luke McDonald were back in the squad amongst the subs, where they joined Callum Farmer, Jamie Snapes and Andrews.
Having left Milton Keynes on a very wet and gloomy morning, I arrived at the ground in late autumn sunshine, but unfortunately the rain had followed me up the M1 and we were in for a wet afternoon in Leicester. The drama started before the game kicked-off as we had taken the blue kit which clashed with the home side’s shorts. Thanks to the person who went through all the cupboards at the ground trying to find some shorts of another colour that we could borrow, even if this proved unfruitful.
The Cooks started full of confidence and pegged the home side deep in their own half for the first few minutes. Will Bates made a driving run through the centre before finding Jessi Obeng inside the box and he steered the ball to his right where Louie Barrett hit a first time shot that forced Sorin Cojocaru to make the first save of the game inside the first minute. The shot was struck with some venom and although the keeper could only parry it, he recovered quickly to dive on the loose ball. A decent Kyle Ansell free-kick was headed behind for a corner, then Barrett played a great ball in to Obeng who steered it into the path of Pharrell Anderson, but the home defence closed him quickly to stifle the danger.
Cooks continued to pile on the early pressure with a good run down the right by Anderson that saw him play a low ball across the box where Bates took a touch to find space for a powerful shot that Cojocaru saved. Parkes played the ensuing corner to the back stick where Bruce Tsinosis headed it downward and Obeng nipped into the near post, but could only touch the ball the wrong side of the upright. Tsinosis broke into the GNG half before slipping a slide-rule pass through to Anderson who stung the keeper’s gloves with a low drive, but the keeper was finally beaten on 8 minutes when Jessi Obeng broke clear to the left and raced into the box before slotting the ball to the keeper’s left and low inside the far post. Cool finish for Obeng’s eleventh goal of the season and it has to be said fully deserved after such an impressive start from the Cooks.
We really needed to ensure we kept this momentum up, but the home side were finally woken up by the goal and started to get out of their own half for the first time in the game. Purse made a great challenge to stop Mandeep Bains run down the left flank, while GNG’s first shot of the game followed when Musa Bham placed a low effort wide from just outside the box. On 14 minutes though they pulled themselves level following a free-kick down by the Cooks left corner flag. The delivery was good from Bains and although Wells managed to punch the ball away, Lamar Parkes met it with a first time shot from 20-yards out that flew low through the crowded box and into the back of the net. Disappointing from a Cooks point of view to be pegged back after such a bright start.
Ansell tried an ambitious effort from 25-yards out that landed on the clubhouse roof, then Bains sent over a great cross from the right that the experienced Ryan Robbins met with a header that Wells held on to well. (I say experienced as he probably has around ten times more appearances at this level and higher than the whole of the Cooks sixteen players added together). Green sent over a good cross from the right that Paddy Cichosz managed to get his head to under pressure, but the wet ball skidded off him and wide of the far post.
Bains sent over a dangerous cross from the right that Wells stretched to push away and despite the fact that GNG put the loose ball into the net, referee Mark Simmons blew for a foul on the Cooks’ keeper. Obeng turned away from his man 25-yards out at hit a decent low effort that went a couple of feet wide of the target, then Tsinosis defender really well down the other end as Bains got into a dangerous position down the right. Bates fired a shot on target from the left side of the box that didn’t cause Cojocaru too many problems, then Green played the ball inside to Bates just inside the box and this time he forced the keeper to make a good save which he could only parry, but he recovered to dive on the ball in the middle of the box. The Cooks suffered a blow on 36 minutes when Anderson went down injured and an early sub was needed with Snapes taking his place up front. The first half had really petered out now with just a yellow card for Rickveer Gill for a foul worthy of note.
Half-time; GNG 1 Cooks 1
The home side made one change at the break with the recently cautioned Gill making way for Zico Thandi. I don’t think the sub can take too much credit in this, but yellows took the lead with less than 60-seconds played in the second-half. Musa Bham received the ball wide on the left and checked back before curling a superb shot over the head of Wells and into the top far corner. Unstoppable sums this one up.
A nice touch from Bates gave Obeng a chance to go forward and he fed Snapes on the edge of the box, but he wanted an extra touch and was crowded out. Snapes had a shot saved, then Ansell hit a 25-yard effort too close to the keeper before Tsinosis tried his luck from 30-yards out that was well off target. Ansell did well to block Robbins after the striker broke into the box, then Robbins swivelled to hit a rocket shot that Purse took full in the face at close range. Jules was called on to treat the centre-half, but he was forced to come off and be replaced by young Mallard with 26-minutes to play. GNG also made a change at this point with Mason Lopes being replaced by Sukhbinder Johal.
The hosts were unlucky when Johal sent a great ball through to Robbins who held off the challenge of Tsinosis before placing his shot past Wells, but the ball smacked the base of the post and came back into play. Bham whipped over a cross from the left that looked to be heading for Johal at the far post, but the ball came down the wrong side of the bar and skimmed down the back of the netting. Bates combined nicely with Barrett to win a corner, then good run from Bates won us another, but neither of them were of any concern to the home defence. Cichosz saw a shot from the edge of the box deflect wide, but it was GNG who extended their advantage in the 73rd minute. Bham, who had been a real threat down the left for the home side, cut in and played a great low ball across the box to find a totally unmarked Ryan Robbins at the back post and he took a touch before firing the ball into the back of the net from point-blank range.
The goal sparked a double-change for the Cooks as Andrews and McDonald came into the midfield in place of Parkes and Cichosz. Bham picked out Robbins in the centre and his well-struck shot flew just over the top just before McDonald intercepted play and found Snapes just outside the box and he fired in a shot that was went over the bar. Parkes (the GNG) version, came off for Rian Patel on 79 minutes as GNG looked to extend their lead with a free-kick on the left that Mylan Charles headed wide.
Mallard defended well as Robbins ran on to Bhandal’s flick just before Johal picked up a yellow card for catching Obeng a little late. Robbins made was for Umar Hussain on 88 minutes, whilst Ansell sent in a dangerous free-kick form the right that ended up going just wide of the far post, but off whose head I am not sure. Ansell was caught late a couple of yards outside the box in a central position and Bates lined-up the free-kick, but could only hit the wall. GNG made their final substitution three minutes into stoppage time as the impressive Musa Bham came off. He was either replaced by Zaakir Bham (on the teamsheet) or David Mensa-Bonsu (GNG Twitter account). Bates was flagged offiside and the decision backed by the ref even though a defender was down inside the box playing him on, then a late corner from Ansell caused some concerns for the home defence and Andrews managed to head it goalward, but as the ball was knocked away from the goal, Bates was taken out by a mistimed tackle deep inside the box. The referee seemed about to give the penalty, then allowed play to continue. Can’t personally see how this one couldn’t be viewed as a spot-kick, but as the whistle went seconds later it wouldn’t have affected the result today.
There is no arguing that we bossed the first eight minutes and could have been three goals up, but by the time the final whistle blew G.N.G were the worthy match-winners on the day. After that early spell we were well off our best and not a patch on our recent performances against Coventry Sphinx and to a lesser extent, Newport Pagnell the week before. We remain three points above the relegation zone, but more worryingly we now have just three teams below us. One of these is Lutterworth Town and we visit them next Saturday in what should probably be viewed as a six pointer for both clubs. My man-of-the-match today goes to Kyle Ansell who gave his all and seemed the hungriest Cooks player to get something out of this game.
All the best to G.N.G going forward, nice new ground they have, albeit sad that this is going to be the end of the old Oadby Town club who have played such a big part in Leicestershire non-league football in the past. One thing that is concerning though is the fact that I counted 21 people watching the game, which included five from Cogenhoe and three groundhoppers.
G.N.G; 1. Sorin Cojocaru 2. Tyrel Francis 3. Mylan Charles 4. Rickveer Gill (sub 14. Zico Thandi HT) 5. Mandeep Bains 6. Cameron Parkes © 7. Lamar Parkes (sub 15. Rian Patel 79) 8. Camen Bhandal 9. Mason Lopes (sub 16. Sukhbinder Johal 64) 10. Musa Bham (sub 11. Zaakir Bham or David Mensa-Bonsu 90+3) 17. Ryan Robbins (sub 12. Umar Hussain 88).
Yellow cards; Gill (43) Foul. Robbins (57) Johal 86.
Cooks; 1. Ciaran Wells 2. Bruce Tsinosis 3. Lewis Green 4. Alex Parkes (sub 12. Luke Andrews 73) 5. Luca Purse (sub 14. Harley Mallard 64) 6. Kyle Ansell 7. Louie Barrett 8. Paddy Cichosz © (sub 17. Luke McDonald 73) 9. Pharrell Anderson (sub 16. Jamie Snapes 36) 10. Will Bates 11. Jesse Obeng. Sub not used; 15. Callum Farmer.
Referee; Mark Simmons
Assts; Stewart Walker & Niah Msundire