Dylan Wilson and Jamie Hall are both on target at Westfields as the Cooks drew 2-2 in Hereford.
Saturday 5th August 2023
EMIRATES F.A CUP – EXTRA PRELIMINARY ROUND
WESTFIELDS (1) 2 COGENHOE UNITED (0) 2
Barnes 19 (pen)
Wilson 71 (pen)
Whilst the Cooks were making their first trip to AllPay Park, this was my second visit having been here to watch them play Norton United in the same round of this competition some twelve years previous (they made a terrible start that day and were beaten 4-2). The ground was just as I remembered and it is clear they have a lot of pride in their club with everything looking almost new still and the pitch, despite the ludicrous amount of summer rain that had fallen on it, looked immaculate.
Back to today and with Biff still unavailable, Andy Batty took charge again for what should be the final time and was forced a couple changes with Bailey Weatherly not having recovered from the knock he picked up at Lutterworth in midweek and Dalton Leon about to become a dad at any moment, so in came Kieron Mobbs after being unavailable and Stan Channell who was recalled after having to make do with a place on the bench. The other change saw Jack Connor start instead of Jamie Hall. The F.A Cup allows you to use three from seven subs, so David Sarpong, Manny Mpambi and Micky Ibbeson were all called up for the first time this season. Westfields had kicked off their season with a 3-3 home draw with Cinderford Town on Tuesday night and manager Phil Glover mad seven changes to his starting line-up from that game with keeper Matt Apperley and outfield players Cameron Davies, Sean Powell, Ryan Green, Harry Pitman, Adam Wakley and Harry Summers all being called up.
Looking at the forecast, the game was to be played in a mixture of showers and sunny intervals, but there was no sign of the latter and we had to make do with a few gaps in the rain, which was for most of the time just an annoying drizzle that added a real zip to the surface. Jack Connor took an early blow to the back of the head in an aerial duel, but after a bit of treatment from Piers Bodily he was ok to continue, while the first dangerous move saw Summers send in a decent cross that Ben Dimond dealt with well in the centre. Alex Parkes slipped a good ball into Channell inside the box where he won the games first corner that Cal Farmer sent in a little too deep, but Parkes picked it up on the left and played it back into the box to find Farmer who met his header perfectly, but Apperley was able to get his hand to it just under bar height and palm it away from his goal. Adam North was called on for the first time as he made a good one-handed save diving to his right to keep out a low strike by Matt MacDonald hit from the edge of the box, then back down the clubhouse end a long throw from Lewis Green was headed on by Connor with the defender slicing his attempted clearance to Dylan Wilson just outside the box, but Apperley had his low shot comfortably covered and took it cleanly.
The opening ten minutes had been pretty even with both sides showing their intent in going forward and Connor stepped inside from wide left to hit a rather ambitious 25-yarder that was well wide of the near post. A nice move saw Nathan Bell-Toxtle send over a good cross form the right that Connor got to first, but he couldn’t get around his header enough to keep it on target. A good cross from the lively looking Summers was met just beyond the back post by Wakley, but in similar fashion to the chance down the other end moments earlier, he couldn’t get behind his header enough to steer it at the goal. The Cooks were undone in the 19th minute though when Dan Stoneman and Wakley combined in the box to cut inside and run at the defence with the latter being brought down with referee Nathan Charles pointing to the spot. Oli Barnes stepped up and placed his penalty kick low to North’s left and just inside the post with an expert finish and the Cooks trailed for the first time this season.
Within a minute there was big shout for a penalty down the other end as Wilson lifted a ball into the box for Connor who was challenged rather clumsily with the ball appearing to strike Green’s arm, but the ref decided this time there was nothing doing in his opinion and play went on. Wilson was not happy with this decision and let the ref know which earned him his second booking of the season in the 21st minute. The Cooks missed a great chance of an equaliser within sixty seconds of the penalty appeal as Farmer sent over a great free-kick from the left that Harley Mallard met with his foot right in front of the far post, but all he could do was fire it back across the box and the home side managed to get it away safely. The ball fell nicely for Wakley on the edge of the box but he put his volley over the top, just before more good work by Summers on the right saw him play in a low ball that Dimond had to cut out.
The home side were forced into a change on 35 mines as Green hobbled off to be replaced by Kane Kahaki. Judging by the fact that the injured party hadn’t received any treatment and the sub was ready to come straight on, I would guess this was a recurrence opposed to a fresh injury. Stoneman hit a powerful low drive that North got down to take with confidence, then Apperley was called into action as Connor met a good ball in from Mobbs in the centre forcing a good save and when the rebound came to Parkes just outside the box, he fired his low shot just the wrong side of the post. Bell-Toxtle got his head to a Green throw, but Farmer couldn’t keep his shot down, while Westfields went close to doubling their lead when North was forced to make a great one-handed save to keep out Wakely, with the striker then poking the loose ball straight across the face of the goal with no teammate following up. Summers cut into the box from the right with Mobbs doing well to slow him down which allowed Mallard to get across and head his cross behind for a corner from which we saw a real scramble that that saw one shot blocked and another cleared off the line in first half stoppage time.
A decent first half that had been largely even with action down both ends, but the home side had created the better chances with North making a couple of fine saves as the Cooks trailed at the break for the first time this season..
Half-time; Westfields 1 Cogenhoe United 0
No changes at the break for either team and it was the Cooks who were first to show. Wilson judging a dropping ball well as he ran beyond his man to get into the box on the left before hitting a low shot across Apperley that the keeper did well to get his hand to at a stretch. A great effort hit first time on the edge of the box by Summers was matched by North who turned it over the bar with his up-stretched glove, while Farmer picked up a yellow card for swearing at the ref after disputing one of his decisions. A neat ball from Parkes to Mobbs inside the box on the left came to nothing mainly due to a very good piece of defending by Cameron Davies before the Cooks made their first change of the afternoon as Josh Jones replaced Bell-Toxtle a minute shy of the hour.
Channell chased down a poor back pass, but the ball didn’t roll kindly for him as he challenged the keeper, then it was the home teams turn to make a swap as Pitman made way for Steve Davies. Summers became the third player to be shown the yellow card by Mr Charles (I think for kicking the ball away, but he was behind the dug outs from where I stood when the incident occurred). Summers was played straight through the middle, but his shot lacked any real conviction and was hit straight at North, then Connor played a good ball to Jones who won a corner down the left, but the Cooks couldn’t make it count. The final sub for Westfields saw goal scorer Barnes come off for Archie Muirhead on 70 minutes and within sixty seconds the Cooks had themselves a penalty of their own. Joel Edwards was over the back of Channell inside the box stopping the Cooks man from jumping and for the second time in the game Mr Charles pointed to the spot. Dylan Wilson was the coolest man on the field as he fired his penalty high into the net to level the scores with his second goal of the season with 71 minutes played. The Cooks were hungry for more as they quickly retrieved the ball from the net, clearly looking to win this game with some of the home players looking a little tired.
Two more subs followed shortly with Hall replacing Connor up top on 77 minutes and Charlie Pearson coming on for Channell four minutes later. Hall was quickly into the action with a nice piece of skill that created a shooting chance just outside the box, with his effort taking a deflection off a defender and with the keeper unable to keep it in, the Cooks had a corner. Farmer’s delivery was cleared, but he had a chance of his own when we won a free-kick 25-yards out, but his effort was easy for Apperley as it dropped into his waiting gloves just in front of his goal-line. North punched well under pressure to clear a dangerous Stoneman cross, but on 87 minutes it was Stoneman’s turn for the glory as the ball sat up nicely for him on the edge of the box and he hit it as sweetly as is possible to send an absolute thunderbolt past North and give his side the lead with time ticking away for the Cooks. Stoneman clearly likes to grab the late headlines having struck twice in the final few minutes to earn his side a draw four days previous.
This Cooks team aren’t one to lick their wounds though and they were back down the other end putting pressure on the home defence and they got their just reward two minutes into stoppage time. A poor pass by MacDonald towards his own goal saw Pearson battle hard for the ball and steer it through to Jamie Hall inside the box and the big striker lobbed it over the keeper’s head and just under the bar at the far post. Brilliant finish from the Cooks man who celebrated his second goal of the season (and they have both been real beauties too). The Cooks, despite being a few minutes from a home replay, were determined to finish this one off today and Wilson slipped Hall through on the left and he placed his shot across Apperley, but the keeper just got his left boot to the ball to keep it out, then a long ball over the top from Parkes saw Hall get goalside of his man and steer the ball past the keeper from just inside the box, but it rolled wide of the far post and it ended all square at 2-2.
The result of all this late excitement is a replay at Compton Park on Tuesday night. This will certainly mean several Westfields players will be asking their bosses for time-off for this game because it is a very long trip on a Saturday, let alone on a Tuesday night with all the extra traffic that brings with it. Today’s game will certainly be remembered for those final few minutes as the game went the way of the home side, probably against the run of play at the time, before so nearly seeing the Cooks grab a late, late win. 100% effort from all the Cooks boys today but my MOTM today goes to Adam North who made three excellent saves at vital times and for this I’ll forget about a few wayward kicks. Special mention to Kieron Mobbs who was up against a very good Harry Summers today, but despite being beaten a couple of times early on, grew into the game and kept the winger very quiet in the second half. Jamie Hall was only on the pitch for about 15 minutes but put everything into that brief time and scored a superb goal to boot and that also deserves a mention. Great spirit shown by the boys today to come from behind twice after such a long journey, lets hope we can get the job finished on Tuesday night, but Westfields are a good team and they will be disappointed to have let their lead slip so late in the game.
The winners of Tuesday night’s replay will have a home tie against Worcester City who beat Dudley Town 3-0 this afternoon.
Westfields; 1. Matt Apperley 2. Cameron Davies 3. Sean Powell 4. Joel Edwards © 5. Ryan Green (sub 16. Kane Kahaki 35) 6. Harry Pitman (sub 12. Steve Davies 62) 7. Dan Stoneman 8. Matt MacDonald 9. Oli Barnes (sub 15. Archie Muirhead 70) 10. Adam Wakley 11. Harry Summers. Subs not used; 13. Jack Oxenham (GK) 14. Adam Newbury 17. Teddy Mee 18. Zac Johnson.
Cooks; 1. Adam North 2. Lewis Green 3. Kieron Mobbs 4. Alex Parkes 5. Ben Dimond 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Stan Channell (sub 15. Charlie Pearson 81) 8. Callum Farmer 9. Jack Connor (sub 12. Jamie Hall 77) 10. Nathan Bell-Toxtle (sub 14. Josh Jones 59) 11. Dylan Wilson. Subs not used; 16. Ollie Taylot 17. David Sarpong 18. Manny Mpambi 19. Micky Ibbeson (GK)
Referee; Nathan Charles (Worcester)
Assts; Kevin Eades & Jonathan Price.
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