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Goals from Jack Connor and Jamari Hart had seen the Cooks lead 2-1, but a 96th minute Josh Reilly goal after John Meadows penalty save meant two points dropped for the Cooks.

Saturday 15th March 2024





Howards 45+1

Reilly 90+6


Connor 17 (pen)

Hart 69

Att; 118


The Cooks travelled down to Oxfordshire to play Easington Sports for what was their third trip to play the club who had traditionally been in Hellenic League territory until recent seasons. The t-shirt and shorts weather in Milton Keynes disappeared into the ether somewhere along the journey and by the time I had reached Banbury, things had turned particularly chilly. Apart from the weather, it was a pleasant journey passing fields of spring lambs with the only hitch being the Sat-Nav advising me it would be quicker to go through the centre of Buckingham rather than use the bypass. It lied to me!

Firstly I’d like to say thanks and well done to the Easington Groundsman/men/persons for preparing a plable surface considering the fact that it had been covered in standing water and their Wednesday night game had to be postponed. Scott Carlin was faced with a putting out a much changed team with injuries to Keiron Mobbs and Ben Dimond from the March game adding to the already wounded, plus Tejan Thomas had been called up by Diamonds for their game against Lye Town (they lost 0-4 at home, perhaps he should have played for us instead), Matty Ireland was needed by the Cobblers Academy (they also lost, but only 2-1 at Cambridge United with the first goal coming from a rather harshly awarded penalty against young Matty), Sonny Knights still away, Sharma Bako unable to get away from work and Takula Chijota missing his bus in the morning to add to his woes. In came Dalton Leon at left-back, Bailey Weatherly in the hole and Dex Nkrumah out wide, while the returning Dom Wysocki joined Dylan Carlin and Charlie Pearson on a three-man bench. Sports gaffer Andy Sharman made just one change to his starting line-up as Luke Fuller moved up from the bench with Dan Watkin going the other way where he was joined by Chay Buckingham and Ethan Champkins.

There was a bit of a breeze blowing towards the cover behind the bottom goal, but nothing like the wind we have witnessed in recent games, and it was the Cooks who were attacking that end for the first half and they made a positive start with Nkrumah heavily involved in his first start since returning to the club. Jamari Hart worked back well to win the ball cleanly as the hosts mounted their first attack and they had the ball in the net shortly afterwards, but Russell Tunney’s flag had been raised for offside. It had been a good move though with James Watts slipping in Josh Reilly on the left and he ran into the box before playing it across the face of goal for Leam Howards to tap in from close range, but in the end, it counted for nothing. Nkrumah won a corner off Reilly giving Callum Farmer his first chance to deliver the ball into the box, but Jack Myatt got up well to tip the ball away on the edge of his 6-yard box, Paddy Cichosz won a 50/50 in the centre and sent Nkrumah down the left where he delivered a dangerous looking ball to the far post, but his teammates were unable to take advantage of the situation, then Farmer’s free-kick from the wide on the right saw Myatt let the ball slip from his grasp, but Jack Connor was penalised for impeding him whilst the keeper was in the air.

Watts looped a high ball over the top that Howards chased, but Brad Ilunga stood his ground to win the ball with the Sports striker left thinking he had run into a brick wall as the lay crumpled in a heap inside the box. A Farmer corner from the right induced a spot of head tennis inside the box before the ball eventually went out for a goal-kick while Atat and Harley Mallard both did well inside their own box as the home side got themselves into the game, but things were to swing the way of the Cooks in the 17th minute. Weatherly picked play a few yards outside the box and dipped his shoulder to go past one defender to get inside the penalty area before squeezing past two more where he was upended by Elliot Barton. Jack Connor has the role of penalty taker these days and he stepped to hit it low and just inside the keeper’s left-hand post. Pretty close to being the perfect penalty, although fair play to Myatt who wasn’t too far away from getting his fingertips to the ball with his outstretched arm.

A poor challenge from Reilly left Weatherly needing treatment soon after the goal meaning referee Gary Ogden had to dig his yellow card out of his pocket for the first time in the afternoon. A nice interchange between Connor and Nkrumah saw the former get into a good position on the edge of the box, but he pushed his man and conceded a free-kick, while another foul gave Callum Convey a sight of goal 25-yards out down the other end, but his shot didn’t have anything behind it and was easily gathered by John Meadows. Another Convey free-kick, this time from wide on the right, was drilled across the box and Reilly steered it at goal, but once again Meadows wasn’t troubled by his effort. A long ball from Atat saw Barton steer it back with his head leaving Myatt to get quickly to the edge of his box to dive on the ball before the alert Connor could reach it, but only just, then Jamari Hart broke into the box only to be denied a shot by a great challenge from Jake Humphreys as he shaped to shoot. Nkrumah picked out Hart on the right with a good pass, but his low cross was gathered by Myatt at the near post, then some great work by Weatherly saw him work across the field, but unfortunately, he spooned his 25-yard shot once he had made himself a yard to shoot.

Farmer chested the ball down before finding Hart out on the right and his low ball in saw Nkrumah set up a chance for Atat to the right of the box and his dinked effort was only a few inches wide of the far post. A deep free-kick from Barton saw Reilly do really well to nod it back for Convey inside the area, but he could only send his volley wide of the target while Convey drilled a corner across that Reilly steered on target with his head, but Meadows was more than a match as he held the ball cleanly. Luke Swann had a great chance to level things up when he found himself in space on the edge of the box to the right, but although he set himself up nicely with a touch inside, he didn’t have the confidence to hit it with his left, so his shot with the outside of the boot was bread and butter for Meadows. Cichosz rode a challenge and with the ref playing the advantage, he played what looked like being a great ball through to Connor, but Barton used a mix of experience and strength to hold off the young striker and allow Myatt to come out and claim the ball.

A Humphreys clearance sent Joe Eyre down the left and he sent over a dangerous cross that Howards couldn’t get on target, then Convey’s corner was won in the air by Reilly, but Mallard got the ball away as far Eyre who’s cross was held cleanly by Meadows. Ilunga was penalised for a challenge just outside the box to the left and when Convey drilled it in low, Leam Howards got in front of his marker to steer it past Meadows for a very well taken goal, his twelfth of the season. We were already into stoppage time at this point, so it was a very frustrating time to concede. The last action of the half saw Leon rise to flick Weatherly’s long throw across the face of the goal, but it rolled just wide of the back post and the two teams went into the break level at one-apiece. A lively first half that saw both teams have good spells, firstly the Cooks who deserved the lead when Connor scored, then Easington who had by far the better of the last fifteen minutes and to be honest it did look they could equalise at any minute, which they eventually did.


Half-Time; Sports 1 Cooks 1


With both manager’s relatively happy with their team’s performance to date, neither made any changes at the break, but although the first few minutes showed plenty of endeavour, little of note occurred in a scrappy start to the second half. Easington were first to get their act together when Convey sent over another deep corner that Humphreys met with a powerful header that Meadows had to tip over for a corner, this time from the right and the same two combined in a mirror reflection of the first, but this time Humphreys effort was blocked and cleared. It was becoming a bit of a theme as Convey sent in a free-kick from the left that Humpreys met with his head beyond the back post only for Farmer to block at the expense of a corner and I probably don’t need to tell you that Convey took it, this time curling it in towards the far top corner where Weatherly headed it away on the goal line.

Weatherly was in the action down the other end when he went through the back of Reilly on the edge of the Easington box forcing Mr Ogden to dig out his yellow card again, while Sports physio Ali Whitrow patched his man up. Ilunga won the ball and sent Hart down the right, with the youngster cutting inside and forcing Myatt to get down and make a save from the edge of the box, then Farmer played a great ball through to Nkrumah who made it into the box before being denied by a great challenge from Humphreys. Farmer sent over the corner and Leon battled hard to win another at the far post, but this time Farmer’s delivery was headed clear. Hart found Nkrumah on the left of the box, but again he was denied by a timely tackle from Humphreys, while Cooks striker Connor was back in his own box getting his head to a dangerous ball dinked in by Watts. Carlin made his first change of the afternoon on 65 minutes as he replaced the hard-working Nkrumah with Wysocki on 65 minutes.

While the game had remained end-to-end for most of the second half, Easington had been looking the most likely to score, but it was the Cooks who restored their lead with a classic breakaway goal on 69 minutes. Ilunga had cleared his lines and Connor did well to get to the ball and beat his man on the right touchline before he broke down the flank and sent a great low ball behind the defence and Jamari Hart got goalside of his marker to slam the ball home from close range for his first goal in senior football. Brilliant play by Connor to set this one up, but also great predatory instinct and finishing from the Cobblers Academy player.

I doubt that the two were connected, but Sharman made his first change with Chay Buckingham, who had scored against us at Compton Park, coming on in place of Swann on the right before the game restarted. A lovely pass from Wysocki sent Hart running for goal, but he was under pressure, and he could only roll his shot at Myatt as the keeper came off his line to narrow the angle, then Barton was booked for a foul on Wysocki after a slick move that had involved Cichosz, Farmer and Connor. The resulting free-kick was just outside the box to the left and Farmer curled it in towards the far post where it had to be headed behind by a defender for a corner. Farmer swung this one out and Leon rose well to meet it with his head at the near post, but he couldn’t get over it enough to keep it below bar height. Both teams made their second changes on 75 minutes with Weatherly coming off for Pearson and Convey being replaced by Ollie Rose for the home side. There was a bit of a surreal moment coming up next as Connor caught his man with the ref playing advantage, but the same Cooks player then committed another foul in the same move, so it was no surprise when the referee pulled out his yellow card again. However, he showed it to the innocent Atat instead. Just for reference, Connor, 6’2’’, white and with short fair hair, Atat, 5’11’’, black with longish dreads. Easy to see where the confusion lies here.

Ilunga was shown the yellow card a minute later for a foul on Howards as Easington broke quickly, guilty as charged here, but worryingly the Cooks were losing their grip a little as Sports turned up the pressure, but thankfully things were to settle down again quite quickly. Another Farmer corner was volleyed back to him by a defender and he touched it to Wysocki who got past his first man and kept going despite being caught late before regaining his balance and going by two more to get deep insider the box on the left before pulling his shot across the keeper, but sadly just wide of the far post. A great challenge by Atat saw him rob Eyre in a dangerous position, while the Cooks were a little lucky as Howards would have had only Meadows to beat from the centre of the box had his first touch not been too heavy, but credit to Ilunga who had made it tricky for the Sports striker.

Buckingham became player number five to be shown the yellow card on 86 minutes for wrapping his arms around Leon after he had been beaten, but Sports should have equalised when Buckingham found himself in acres of space inside the box just to the right, but he took too long and when Mallard got himself across, the sub snapped at his shot and fired it the wrong side of the near post. Josh Wynne made way for Dan Watkin on 87 minutes in what was the last throw of the dice for the Banbury team and they went close from a deep corner (not sure who took it as I had forgotten Convey had gone off) and it found its way to Reilly at the back post and his shot hit the outside of the upright. The referee had already indicated there would five additional minutes to play when Mallard, who had been struggling and although he clearly wanted to see the game out, was forced off on 90 minutes with Carlin Jnr coming on, The captain’s armband went to Meadows, while Leon moved into the centre back position, with the sub replacing him at left back. The sub time added on, there would still be five minutes to go and there would be some defending to do as the home side desperately searched for the equaliser and disaster struck when Humpreys long throw into the box from the right saw Leon crash into the back of Eyre and Ogden pointed to the spot for the second time in the game. Reilly was the man tasked with the spot-kick with the game now in the 96th minute and not for the first time this season Meadows was the hero of the day as he saved the penalty, but his joy lasted a mere tenth of a second as Reilly followed up to net the rebound. There was still time for some controversy though as the assistant referee had raised his flag so the goal wasn’t immediately given and the referee went over to check, but he had been indicating that the keeper had stepped in front of his line before the kick was taken, but of course no retake would be needed as the loose ball had been tucked away negating any advantage the keeper may have had. The home side now saw the three points in in mind and a lovely cross from Barton had to be headed behind for a corner and as I walked round I was surprised to witness the assistant referee arguing and making sarcastic comments to someone in the crowd. According to Full-Time and yesterday’s email, this was Darrell Parkes, a UCL referee’s co-ordinator, so surely he should be concentrating on the game and setting an example. Andy Batty confronted the officials as the teams came off following the final whistle and was shown the red card meaning a touchline ban will be imminent with just six games remaining, although that is likely to start next Saturday, so he has another chance to add to his card collection on Tuesday night in Godmanchester.

The game ended 2-2, probably a fair outcome over the 90 minutes, but very disappointing from a Cogenhoe point of view to drop two points in the sixth minute of added time. Jack Connor is now clear at the top of the goalscorers charts with eleven, while his also supplied one of the best assists this season for Jamari Hart to open his account. The game was very competitive and an entertaining affair throughout and apart from a couple of mistimed challenges, not really a five yellow card game overall. Paul’s man-of-the-match today goes to Earl Atat, worked hard, made some great challenges and this will be a consolation for picking up a yellow card for somebody else’s infringement. Good luck to Easington for the rest of the season and thanks for the hospitality today.

Next up for the Cooks is a trip to Godmanchester Rovers on Tuesday night and given the problems they suffer with their pitch, fingers crossed for dry weather between now and then.


Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Dalton Leon 4. Paddy Cichosz 5. Brad Ilunga 6. Harley Mallard © (sub 14. Dylan Carlin 90) 7. Jamari Hart 8. Callum Farmer 9. Jack Connor 10. Bailey Weatherly (sub 15. Charlie Pearson 75) 11. Dex Nkrumah (sub 12. Dom Wysocki 65).

Sports; 1. Jack Myatt 2. Luke Swann (sub 15. Chay Buckingham 69) 3. Joe Eyre © 4. Jake Humphreys 5. Elliot Barton 6. Luke Fuller 7. Josh Reilly 8. Callum Convey (sub 14. Ollie Rose 75) 9. Leam Howards 10. Josh Wynne (sub 17. Dan Watkin 87) 11. James Watts. Subs not used; 12. Tommy Kinch 16. Ethan Champkins.

Referee; Gary Ogden Assts; Russell Tunney & Darrell Parkes.




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