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A late brace from former Cooks striker Emmanuel Gbejuade extended the Cooks winless streak.

Tuesday 19th March 2024




Gbejuade 65 (pen), 89


Att; 95


The Cooks travelled to Godmanchester for their final scheduled floodlit match of the season to face a team desperate for points to stay in this division. Scott Carlin had the call on Diamonds youngster Tejan Thomas who came in for injured skipper Harley Mallard, plus Cobblers Academy pair Josh Rayfield and Matty Ireland who were both handed starts. Dom Wysocki returned to the starting eleven, while Callum Farmer (who had played 120 minutes for his college team the day before), Dex Nkrumah and Bailey Weatherly dropped down to the bench (the latter unable to make kick-off from work) where they were joined by fit again Keiron Mobbs and Sonny Knights who had returned from an early spring break. Goddy gaffer Dan Gleeson made one change to his starting line-up with former Cogenhoe striker Mani Gbejuade coming in for Josh Hales who dropped to the bench. To carry on the ‘playing against the former club’ theme, Nemanja Grubor was in goal for the home side, although he never actually featured for the Cooks as his parent club Corby Town recalled him when their keeper got injured, while Linus Kusi was on the bench. Brad Ilunga took over the captain’s armband for this game against the club he started the season with. Another welcome return was the old orange away shirts which joined up once again with their socks, but sadly we still had the grey shorts as some of the black ones have gone missing. Out of blue lately we have fashioned something of a jumble sale look with kits on the road, but at least our shirts tonight were better than the falling to bits grey ones!

The main thing of note before the game got underway was of course the pitch, with trench lines running from side to side at regular intervals the whole length of the pitch giving it more of a look of a badly kept allotment than a step-5 football pitch. The corner quadrants were another matter. Triangles is a better description and a right-angled scalene ones at that.

On with the game and with the Cooks kicking towards the car park end, Earl Atat won a very early corner down the right that Rayfield took with Thomas taking advantage of his height to get his header on target, but it hit a defender and went behind for another corner kick. Same combination as Rayfield sent it over and Thomas met it with an even better header that Ron Sosoli did well to get his head to inside the 6-yard box and divert the ball over the bar. Wysocki played the ball in square from the right with Rayfield hitting it first-time from the edge of the box, but Grubor wasn’t tested as his shot went a couple of feet over the top. Decent effort from the youngster though. Thomas sent Dalton Leon down the left and he lifted the ball on the volley over the top of the 6-yard box with nobody able to get near enough to get a touch. The ball had been on the deck when he set himself to cross, but an interesting bounce off one of the trenches saw it bobble up to knee height making his task somewhat more difficult. Ireland ran onto a good pass from Thomas, but the ball bobbled as he broke into the penalty area allowing a defender to get a vital touch onto the ball and Ireland was again involved as Jack Connor picked him out, but this time Alfie-Ray Turner got back to defend the situation well.

Thomas played a low ball into the feet of Wysocki in the box, but again the bounce slowed him down and as he checked back, he found himself crowded out, while Rovers had their first shot of the game when Turner missed the target from wide on the right. Jamari Hart sliced wide from the edge of the box as the ball bobbled, then there was a big shout for a penalty when Paddy Cichosz was pushed just inside the box on the left by Ben Arnold, but referee Phoebe Horner waved play-on. (This one was right in front of me and it should have been a penalty, but my view was a better one on this occasion). Having made it tough for the Cooks as they attempted to adjust themselves to the erratic bounce, the pitch did its best to help us out when Atat fired in a shot from 25-yards out that bobbled in front of Grubor, but the keeper managed to palm the ball away from his goal,

Godmanchester had a good chance when a corner fell to Ricki Goodale on the edge of the box, but the experienced defender pulled his shot the wrong side of the post, then a great piece of play by Gbejuade inside of the box on the left saw him roll the ball across the face of the goal with his teammate unable to get there at the far post. A big free kick from Goodale into the box saw Ben Tait bring it down well. But Atat was on hand with a very good tackle to deny him. Ireland became the first player to be shown the yellow card five minutes before the break when he caught Sosoli on the ankle. Unlucky on the young lad as there was no malice in his tackle. Rayfield sent in a good free kick from the left that Goodale chested around the post for a corner deep inside his own box and Rayfield swung it in the back post where try as he might, the ball just wouldn’t sit up for Thomas to sweep it home. The final challenge of the first half was between Sosoli and Ireland with the Rovers full-back ‘retaliating’ with a hand to the face of the 17-year old which sparked a bout of handbags by the touchline and when things finally calmed down, Goddy’s Arnold was the only one shown a yellow card. Scrappy first half that saw the Cooks have the better of the opening fifteen minutes, but the home side had got themselves right back into it. although they hadn’t particularly threatened John Meadows goal as yet.


Half-time; Goddy 0 Cooks 0


No changes at the break as Thomas got up above Goodale to head away a Ruari O’Boyle free kick lifted to the edge of the 6-yard box, then Meadows made a good save to deny Ben Tait after a great piece of work by Gbejuade inside the box.  Meadows parried away a Gbejuade shot from the edge of the box and then the former Cooks striker sent over a high ball from the right that Ilunga headed away inside his own 6-yard box and when Ed Watson returned it with intent, Cichosz was in the right place to block his effort on the goal line.  Biff was shown the yellow card for comments to Ms Horner (could have been red in honesty, standing next to Batts is clearly rubbing off on him) before Leon headed over from a Rayfield free kick. The first substitution of the night came on 59 minutes when Sonny Knights came on for Hart, while the next effort at goal saw home player Arnold fall foul of the surface as he went for goal from 25-yards out, but the bobble came at the wrong time and he shanked it high and wide.

The best effort of the game so far came from a cracking effort from Cichosz that forced a brilliant save out of Grubor. The Cooks midfield man hit a looping volley from wide on the right that appeared to have beaten the keeper, but he dived at full-stretch to his right to get a glove onto the ball and turned it on to the post. The game went down the other end and in the 69th minute the home side took the lead from the penalty spot. Ilunga had done well to block a well-struck shot, but when Turner got to the loose Ball first, Leon needlessly brought him down inside the box. Gbejuade was the man eventually handed the ball and he placed his low spot-kick to Meadows right and just inside the post. The keeper had gone the right way and was close to getting his fingers to it, but the peno had been perfectly placed.

Knights played a good ball through to Connor only for the Goodale to defend the situation well just before Leon was booked for a foul on 62 minutes. The Cooks weren’t really looking like finding an equaliser now, so Biff tried to shake things up on the park my making some changes with Farmer and Mobbs coming on for Cichosz and Ireland on 72 minutes and Nkrumah replacing Wysocki three minutes later. Knights won the ball with a great tackle before releasing Mobbs down the left, but again the early cross was ruled out by a funny bounce and when he did try to deliver, it was cut out for a corner. Farmer slipped as he took it and Leon tried a flick at the near post, but only directed the ball out for a goal kick. Goodale took the ball into the box and with the Cooks doing some backs-to-the-wall defending, they blocked no fewer that four shots in the space of ten seconds before they eventually got the ball out of their area.

Ilunga got in a good defensive header from a dangerous Turner cross into the box, but defensive suicide cost us dearly with a minute remaining when we tried to play the ball out from the back again and we were caught wanting as Tait seized the opportunity to break into the box before setting up Gbejuade just to the right of the far post and he crashed an unstoppable first-time shot past Meadows and into the net. Totally unnecessary goal to give away when you consider the fact that we were 89 minutes into the game, but still seemingly hadn’t realised you cannot play football on that pitch. Stoppage time saw the home side make a few subs to run the clock down, one of those going off was two-goal hero Gbejuade, but I didn’t catch the other two. On came Sammy Fisher, Hales and Rio Henson though. Thomas picked up a yellow card for a foul. But nothing else of note occurred and thankfully the referee called time on a poor game on an even poorer playing surface. At least nobody broke an ankle on it is about all we can say from a Cooks perspective.

Well done to Godmanchester on their deserved win tonight and with Nirvana beating championship hopefuls Warwick, the bottom two completely changes with Desborough dropping back down to the bottom and Eynesbury now in the second relegation spot. Not going to dwell on this game much as after a promising start, we rarely threatened the home defence and once we had given away the penalty, we never looked like getting anything from the game. You can blame the pitch, you can blame the officials if you want, but truth of the matter is we were poor tonight and got what we deserved. My man-of-the-match today goes to Paddy Cichosz, who just pipped Tejan Thomas and John Meadows for the accolade. The whole performance had a real end of the season feel about it with a top ten finish now looking highly unlikely, plus the uncertainty hanging over Biff, his coaching staff,  plus of course the players regarding the chairmanship, nobody has any idea if they will still be at the club in a few weeks and are likely to have an eye on other opportunities should they arise, which they probably will. My highlight of the game, apart from the good company, was the half-time hotdog from the wonderful ladies running the tea bar,

Next up is a trip to Coventry United on Saturday with their artificial surface looking better by the second and the match preview will appear on here on Friday, while there is also a game at Compton Park that evening when we host the UCL Reserve KO Cup Final between Irchester United and Buckingham FC.

Incidentally, my day got even worse on my trip home with the dual carriageway between Kempston and the M1 being closed for roadworks and then one of my headlight bulbs failing as my SatNav took the piss again by diverting me through the narrow back roads around Kempston Rural.


Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Dalton Leon 4. Josh Rayfield 5. Brad Ilunga © 6. Tejan Thomas 7. Dom Wysocki (sub 14. Dex Nkrumah 72) 8. Paddy Cichosz (sub 12. Callum Farmer 72) 9. Jack Connor 10. Jamari Hart (sub 17. Sonny Knights 59) 11. Matty Ireland (sub 16. Keiron Mobbs 72). Sub not used; 15. Bailey Weatherly.

Rovers; 1. Nemanja Grubor 2. Ron Sosoli 3. Ruari O’Boyle 4. Ben Arnold 5. Matt Green © 6. Ricci Goodale 7. Alfie-Ray Turner 8. Tom Spark 9. Mani Gbejuade 10. Ben Tait 11. Ed Watson. Subs; 12. Sonny Fisher * 14. Josh Hales * 15’ Hashim Bakar (unused) 16. Rion Henson * 17. Linus Kusi (unsused).

Referee; Phoebe Horner Assts; Aaron Revell & Michael Sherman.




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