Harborough go top after hitting the Cooks for six at Compton Park.
Tuesday 7th September 2021
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (0) 0 HARBOROUGH TOWN (2) 6
Agbenu 18, 35, 79 (pen)
Ansu 54, 72
Craig Adams made a couple of changes to his starting eleven for the game against Sphinx on Saturday with the fit again Lloyd Groves returning in the centre of defence and returnee Josh Adams starting on the left, meaning a central midfield role for Dan Mortimer. Archie Culley had to make do with a place on the bench whilst Kobi Bivens was absent tonight. Harborough boss Mitch Austin included former Cooks Nat Ansu and Merson Styles in his team as the visitors looked to make it seven out of seven and move to the top of the table for the first time this season.
Groves was in trouble with referee Stacey Fullicks in the second minute after flattening Bees skipper Ben Williams as he went for a header. I don’t think there any intended malice in the challenge as he headed the ball, but he hit him late and we had a very early yellow card for the assistant manager. Mortimer played a good ball over the defence for Dylan Wilson to chase, but the bounce was unfavourable for the striker and it was keeper Elliott Taylor who claimed the ball safely. A long throw from Dan Cooper saw James Ireland hook the ball over his shoulder at the near post, but it went straight through the crowd and out beyond the far post.
A Mortimer free-kick from the half-way line skimmed off Rico Alexander’s head and went wide, but the game swung in favour of Harborough when they took the lead on 18 minutes. Ansu nipped in front of Groves to nick the ball and sent Dodzi Agbenu clear. Jordan Orosz came across to force him wide, but the striker gave himself a yard and coolly fired a low shot past Craig Foxall from an angle to net at the near post. The goal lifted Harborough and Sam Hollis saw a shot deflected wide from the edge of the box and from the corner Williams got his angles all wrong at the far post and fired his shot well wide from close range. Will Bates did well to get his head to a good cross from the left then down the other end we had our first corner, but Adams’ delivery was met by the head of Sam Preston in the middle and the danger had gone.
Jamie Mastropierro was caught in possession by Ansu just inside his own half and with Foxall out on the edge of his box, the striker tried to lift the ball over him from about 45-yards out rather than attack the space, but he didn’t get behind or under it at all. Ansu made a sharp turn and shot from the corner of the box that wasn’t too far wide of the far post then down in the other box Wilson went for an overhead kick and caught his man. Harborough reacted and some pushing and shoving ensued before Wilson and Harborough’s Sam Preston were shown the yellow card.
A very good interception from Mastropierro stopped Ireland getting clear, but on 35 minutes the Bees got their second of the night with Agbenu once again the man on target. There was a bit of luck involved as the ball pinballed around the box to sit in front of the striker, but the finish was excellent as he drew Foxall before slotting the ball past him and into the far corner. Ireland hit a decent volley from just outside the box that had power behind it but was held well by Foxall whist just before the break Will Bates whipped a free-kick into the box looking for the run of Groves, but he couldn’t get a touch and it ran through to Taylor in the Harborough goal. Sadly this was the closest we had come to a shot on target in the first half as the whistle blew for the break.
Half-time; Cooks 0 Bees 2
One change at the break with Harborough replacing Preston with Josh Walsh. Cogenhoe started quite brightly with Bates putting in a couple of dangerous free-kicks. The first saw Jordan Orosz stretch to meet just beyond the back post but he couldn’t quite get around his header enough to get it on target and his second from the left seemed to evade everyone in a blue shirt despite three attempts to get that vital touch before Harborough cleared their lines.
In truth I think the Cooks needed to score the next goal if they were to have any chance of pulling something out of the hat, but it was the Bees who extended their lead on 54 minutes and of course it was last season’s Cooks hero Nat Ansu with the goal. Sam Hollis the provider with a good ball to Ansu inside the box and he turned his man before placing his shot across Foxall and into the far corner.
Again we seemed to lift ourselves a little and Williams did well to defend a tricky situation under pressure from Wakley and then a great run by Wilson saw him release Bates down the left, but the nippy midfielder had gone a fraction too early and the flag went up. Another long throw from Cooper saw Ireland jump in front of his man to send a back-header right across the face of the goal, then down the other end Wilson and Adams combined well with the former cutting and inside a playing a low ball across the box, but a Williams got his foot to the ball before it reached Wakley.
Another decent delivery from a free-kick by Bates was played back by Orosz, but Agbenu got the first touch to take it away from Alexander before the big defender could pounce on the edge of the 6-yard box. Harborough took off Ireland on 66 minutes to give Joel Konteh a run out just before a bit of pressure around the Cooks area which had seen a a shot block blocked by Alexander and ended when Hollis pulled the ball well wide from a great position around the edge of the box.
Cooks first change saw Paddy Cichosz replace Orosz for the final 20 minutes of the game. Wilson almost got a ball over the top but couldn’t get a touch as the keeper came off his line to claim the it, but straight down the other end for Styles to send over a cross and Ansu met with a looping header that gave Foxall no chance at all. 72 minutes played, 0-4 and not looking good at all for Cogenhoe. Archie Culley came on for Mortimer before the restart and a few minutes later Scott Mooney came on for Hollis in the visitor’s last change of the evening.
Konteh cut inside the box on the left to get past Bates who a challenge that brought down the Bees sub and the referee pointed to the spot. Williams is the regular penalty taker for Harborough, but Agbenu was given the chance to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot with 79 minutes on the clock. He duly obliged with a great low strike just inside Foxall’s right hand post. The keeper made a great effort and almost got to the ball, but it was so well struck and placed he didn’t really stand much chance in stopping it if truth be told.
Groves came off with ten minutes remaining and Faz Rhaman came on in his place and then Alexander made an very important challenge to stop Ansu breaking through into the box with a hat-trick in his sights, but Wilson was caught in possession by Walsh just inside his own half and Mooney broke quickly with Walsh in support and the veteran striker slipped the ball into his run and he fired a low shot beyond Foxall for goal number six for the visitors. The goal was actually the very last kick of the game and was followed by some vocal celebrations in the visiting dressing room with a song or two being ‘murdered’ by the jubilant Bees players.
Definitely a night to forget for Cogenhoe against one the best teams in the Premier South division and after the Harborough display, I see know reasons why my pre-season favourites shouldn’t still be at the top when the final whistle blows on the season. A couple of their goals came from us giving the ball away but they were ruthless in their finishing, whilst at the back their defence was strong and solid and in control of a majority of the game. I have rated Ben Williams as one of the very best defenders in this league over the last few seasons and he was again superb tonight, whilst going forward they have plenty of goals in them too. Great to see Nat again tonight, obviously hoped he wouldn’t score in this one, but two good finishes made it a happy return for to the village for him.
As for the Cooks, we were beaten by a better team for the second week running and are currently shot of all confidence, but that will return and we will be picking up points again shortly I am sure. Man-of-the-match tonight was tricky to pick but we were a little better than we had been last Saturday, even though the result was twice as bad in the end. MOM goes to Will Bates who ran his socks off, delivered some good set-pieces and tried to make things happen around him. Time to forget this one now though and turn our thoughts to another home game and a F.A Vase tie at home to Harefield United this Saturday.
Cogenhoe; 1. Craig Foxall 2. Jordan Orosz (sub 12. Paddy Cichosz 70) 3. Josh Adams 4. Dan Mortimer (sub 15. Archie Culley 72) 5. Jack Riley 6. Rico Alexander 7. Will Bates 8. Jamie Mastropierro © 9. Dylan Wilson 10. Tom Wakley 20. Lloyd Groves (sub 14. Faris Rhaman 80).
Harborough; 1. Elliott Taylor 2. Jordan Fowler 3. Merson Styles 4. Dan Cooper 5. Ben Williams © 6. Sam Preston (sub 16. Josh Walsh HT) 7. Dodzi Agbenu 8. Jordan Henson 9. Nat Ansu 10. James Ireland (sub 14. Joel Konteh 66) 11. Sam Hollis (sub 15. Scott Mooney 75). Subs unused; 12. Ben Jackson 17. Dan Farrell (gk).
Referee; Stacey Fullicks.
Assts; Scott Hanna & Stewart Glendinning.
Don’t forget the U18s start their league campaign just down the road at Whitworth on Thursday night so it would be great to see you there if you can make it.