Unflustered Cooks beat second placed Cranfield in a dramatic game at Crawley Road.
Thursday 24th February 2022
NORTHANTS SENIOR LEAGUE-SOUTH
CRANFIELD UNITED (1) 2 COGENHOE UNITED (1) 3
Cranes; 18 and 84
Cooks; Nwosu 8, Fletcher 64, Reza 90+5 (Pen)
The Cooks travelled to play second placed Cranfield United on Thursday night, a team who had beaten Whitworth Red 8-0 in their previous game, so a tough match was expected. Can I just give credit to the groundsmen at Crawley Road as despite the recent wet weather, the pitch was looking superb and quite possibly the best in the NSYL.
Reza won the ball in midfield and slipped it through to Nwosu inside the box on the left, but he couldn’t get away from his man, then down the other end the home no.4 fizzed a shot just over following a corner. A driving run by Reza was ended by a foul and the Cooks player got up to deliver the free-kick into the box where it was headed behind for a corner. Jones swung it in and McGrath’s header was blocked, but Nzube Nwosu was quickest to react as the ball dropped inside the 6-yard box and he duly gave the Cooks the lead with 8 minutes played.
A deep free-kick from the halfway line from Allam saw Iaciofano time his run to perfection as he came in behind the defence, but unfortunately his header went just the wrong side of the far post. Iaciofano then intercepted a Cranfield pass before playinging it wide to Reza on the right and he flew past his marker before cutting into the box, but his low cross was cut out for a corner. A lovely dinked cross down the bottom end saw Grimshaw pull off a great save from a close range header, but a minute later the scores were level as a ball played in from the left was steered home from the centre of the box by the home no.7.
Cranes no.4 went into the book for a late challenge on Nwosu, whilst Sam Moore could have followed him after clattering Grimshaw and leaving him in the back of the net requiring treatment. A decent turn and shot from Moore was saved comfortably by Grimshaw, whilst down the clubhouse end Reza and Nwosu combined nicely with the latter’s well struck shot being blocked by a red shirt. Reza saw his 25-yard free-kick bounce twice before being gathered up by Cochrane, then from a similar position Nwosu was given the opportunity, but the end result was pretty much the same.
A quick break down the left saw Grimshaw get down to turn an angled drive from the no.11 around the post for the first of two quick corners with the second being the most dangerous as Wootton was forced to head the inswinging effort off the goal line. Nwosu was shown the yellow card for a foul. It wasn’t too bad on its own, but no complaints as he had already received a couple of warnings for his earlier discretions. A good run backed up by strength saw iaciofano make progress before scooping the ball to Reza on the right and he cut inside before seeing his cross blocked. Nwosu made way for Hassan-Hussein just before the interval and the teams headed into the break all square at one-apiece.
The Cooks first chance of the second half came when Wootton sent over a cross from the left that Iaciofano couldn’t quite meet so he chased it down before picking out Hassan-Hussein on the edge of the box and he hit a first time shot that Cochrane got down to save. Great play from Reza saw him slip the ball through to Fletcher, but Cochrane came off his line quickly to block his shot just before Cranes no.9 missed a great chance down the other end with his close-range free header. A great challenge inside the box by McGrath stopped Moore in his tracks, then Grimshaw slid out bravely to the edge of the box to reach a through ball at the feet of a forward.
A big clearance saw Moore get into the box, but good pressure from Allam meant his shot was weak and easy for Grimshaw to save. On 64 minutes the Cooks found themselves in front again with a very nice goal. Reza did well inside the box by the touchline on the right and he sent over a cross that Matt Fletcher stretched to head home from close range. Lovely play from Reza and pure determination from the goalscorer to ensure he got there first.
A great challenge inside his own box by Wootton denied a chance for the home side and the Cooks midfielder then played the ball up to Iaciofano who tried to put Fletcher clear, but his pass was just a little too strong and went through to the keeper. Iaciofano made way for Ashman on 71 minutes, then three minutes later Sam Moore was lucky to only be shown the yellow card for a very late challenge on Hassan-Hussein that left the Cooks sub needing treatment. Cranes no.10 found space through the centre before hitting a low strike from a good 25-yards out that skidded on the surface in front of Grimshaw, but the Cooks keeper did well to get his hands on it and push the ball around the post.
Shaw won the won the ball and found Reza down the right flank, but unusually for him he put his cross straight out for a goalkick. The Cooks were managing the game really well, but on 84 minutes we opened up to allow Alex Maxwell too much space, although you can take nothing away from his shot as he pinged it into the far top corner after working his way across the edge of the box. Shaw had been injured in the build up to the goal and was unable to continue, so Ollie Sljivic took over at right back.
Urged on by the foul language from the stand, the Cranes no.9 joined in and Wyndham Trusler was forced to dig his red card out of his pocket on 87 minutes, whilst Fletcher Snr brought on Hawes and McDonald for the final few minutes as his son Matt and Hassan-Hussein made way. A good challenge by Allam stopped a dangerous move from the home side, then the home no.18 saw his header saved by Grimshaw, but lack of discipline was causing the home side plenty of issues and when Reza played a free-kick into the they gave away a needless penalty. Reza, who had been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse, clearly wasn’t fazed at all as he calmly stepped up and placed his penalty to the keeper’s left hand to put the Cooks in front for the third time with five minutes of stoppage time already played. They probably shouldn’t have ran across as a team to celebrate in front of the home ‘supporters’, but given the amount of abuse they had been given in a Northants Senior Youth League game, I really can’t blame them for doing so. There was still time for Cranfield to add more embarrassment on themselves when Moore was shown a second yellow card a minute after the goal as they played out the dying seconds with nine men.
A great result for the Cooks that gives them a good chance of taking the runners-up spot and a very good game too. I don’t think I have ever had to say this since I started reporting on the Cooks and local football in general, but a small bunch of the healthy throng ‘supporting’ the home side really did ruin he night for most people watching. Banter is one thing and very much part of the game, but the mark was overstepped at times I’m afraid, with an object being thrown at a Cooks player on the field at one point amongst the verbal abuse than ran throughout the game and aimed at certain Cooks players and the unfortunate referee who actually had a good game. Big respect to all the Cooks lads who didn’t let it get to them at all as they went about their business and they thoroughly deserved the three points tonight.
*Cranfield United have taken the step to banish five people from attending their club for which I have the utmost respect, also personally I have always found Cranfield to be a great place to watch football and find it a real shame that these few trouble-makers have temporarily brought embarrassment on the club. I have been to watch them many times over the years at first team level and have always enjoyed by visits there.
Cranes; 1. Cody Cochrane 2. Connor Kavanagh 3. Kristin Esposito 4. Joachim Piechowiak 5. Finley Skilling 6. Nathan Evans 7. Sam Moore © 8. Loius Johnson 9. Tom Hayward 10. James Manning 11. Alex Maxwell. Subs all used in rotation; 12. Sammy Manning 13. Raoul Flora 14. Ollie Brennan 15. Freddie Stonebridge. (these were the numbers on the teamsheet they handed in to the referee, but quite a few of them were wrong hence the use of player no. in the report).
Cooks; 1. Kyle Grimshaw 2. Archie Shaw (sub 17. Ollie Sljivic 84) 3. Caleb Jones 4. Manny Asante 5. Nat Allam © 6. James McGrath 7. Luca Iaciofano (sub 14. Kieran Ashman 71) 8. Josh Wootton 9. Matt Fletcher (sub 15. Charlie McDonald 86) 10. Nzube Nwosu (sub 16. Ben Hassan-Hussein 42-sub 12. Aiden Hawes 86) 11. Shad Reza.
Referee; Wyndham Trusler.
Assts; Ryan Eldred & Andy Johnson.