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Leighton Lions took the six points from this double-header as Dave Perham nets the only goal ten minutes from time.

Sunday 7th May 2023





Perham 80


Att; 16


The Cooks travelled to Leighton Buzzard on Sunday morning for a double-header game against Leighton Lions with six points at stake for the winners. The Cooks wrapped up the third division title last week at Great Horwood so the only thing really at stake was to preserve their unbeaten league record, but Lions would be keen to become the first team to defeat them on the grass pitch at Cedars Upper School. The pitch itself was pretty awful and hadn’t been cut or looked after for a number of weeks by the look of it which is really unfair on the home side who deserve more after forking out £60 a match to play on it. It is also real shame as it is a nicely secluded pitch surrounded by a hedge or fence on all four sides.

The Cooks were without a few players again which did affect the balance of the side, not helped by regular skipper Lee Haines forgetting to set his alarm, plus Phil O’Brien unable to make the first-half, but would get their as quick as he could make it. Stuart Schofield took up the goalie gloves once again allowing Craig Smith to go back on pitch after his penalty-saving heroics last week, Dan Hanger took over the captain’s armband and Danny Smith made a rare appearance for the team. Cormac Hamill was named amongst the subs, but the injury he had picked up at Gt Horwood meant he would only play if he was really needed.

The Cooks made their usual positive start with Sam Duggan playing the ball up to Steve Carroll on the left corner of the box and his shot took a deflection out for a corner. They kept the early pressure up with Dan Smith and Steve Carroll having shots blocked inside the first two minutes of the game, but Leighton started to find their feet and Silk headed just wide from a decent Jones cross. Danny Smith’s powerful shot from the right side of the box clipped the far post a few inches under bar-height, then a great strike by Silk from 25-yards out had to be turned over the bar by Schofield. When the corner came in, the Cooks had Ricky Smith to thank for clearing the ball off the line as Lions started to have much the better of the play.

Nice football down the left flank involving Haines (who had now arrived), Doni Reed and Sam Duggan saw Steve Carroll make room for a shot a few yards out of the box that hit Bennett and went wide, then straight down the other end, Silk sent over a good cross that saw Paul Joyce stoop to steer a header past Schofield, only for the ball to hit the underside of the bar and come back into play. Steve Carroll almost picked out Ricky Smith’s run into the box, but the keeper was quickly off his line to get there first, while Steve Carroll tested the keeper a little more with a low strike from the edge of the box that forced him to get down to save.

Haines and Sam Duggan both had crosses won in the air by Leighton defenders, before Schofield did well to turn over a well-struck Foster free-kick played in from the left touchline. Foster played a ball in from the right that Joyce met, but fired straight at the keeper, then Joyce missed the best chance of the game to date when he headed wide from close range as he met Foster’s cross at the near post. Joyce was a real handful at this stage of the game and his well-hit 20-yard effort was blocked by Sam Duggan deep inside the penalty area, but down the other end Cooks leading scorer Steve Carroll stepped inside from the left corner of the box to send a curling effort at goal, but his shot dipped a little too late and went over the bar. The final chance of the half also fell to Steve Carroll after his brother Paul had set him up on the edge of the box, but his shot took a deflection on the way that took it just the wrong side of the post.


Half-time; Lions 0 Cooks 0.


The Cooks started the second half on the front foot with a good ball from Gary Duggan picking out Steve Carroll on the left and he turned inside but placed his shot wide, then a great corner from Haines was met by Ricky Smith at the far post, but his downward headed was stopped by Danny in the home goal and Gary Duggan could only put his follow-up over the top. A free-kick 20-yards out just to the right of central was an invitation for Haines leg peg, but he went over the wall and a couple of yards over the bar with his effort, but this was much a better performance from the Cooks now after being second best for much of the first-half.

A 30-yarder from Paul Carroll screamed over the top, then Paul played a lovely ball to Danny Smith on the left and he won a corner. A long throw down the other end saw Joyce flick it on with his head, but he only found the waiting arms of Schofield, while Paul Carroll found Danny Smith on the right, but his cross was won by a Lions’ defender. Schofield must have had somewhere else to be because with 64 minutes played he came off to be replaced by the returning Reed in goal and he quickly changed and ran off into the distance. A nice turn by Steve Carroll just inside the box wasn’t quite matched by his shot that went wide, while the home side had a great chance after good work from Silk and Joyce saw the ball bounce in front of Harris on the edge of the 6-yard box, but he could only get his boot to the ball and send it the wrong side of the far post.

The Lions pulled a corner back to the edge of the box with everyone expecting a cross and Perham had time to shape for his shot, but he chose to hit it first time and sent it flying about a foot wide of the target. Steve Carroll had a couple of efforts in quick succession with the first from the edge of the box being blocked and the next one from inside the box on the left deflecting over the bar. A defender did well to beat Gary Duggan to a great cross from Danny Smith at the back stick, then the Cooks had a chance when Paul Carroll was fouled just outside the box in a central position. A bit of argy-bargy followed which held the game up for a couple of minutes, but when we got back under way Steve Carroll beat the keeper with a superb free-kick, but his effort smacked the post high up and the game remained somehow scoreless.

Lions defended a dangerous Haines corner well, but Steve Carroll managed to get in a shot that was blocked and when Paul Carroll tried his luck, his effort was deflected over the bar. Haines sent the corner in with the keeper punching it out and when Paul Carroll’s follow up was blocked, the home side broke away quickly and ended up with three-on two on the edge of the box and Dave Perham curled a shot towards the far top corner from the left that Reed just managed to get his finger-tips too, but he couldn’t keep it out. It had been a long time since the Cooks had trailed in a league match, but with just ten minutes to go in this one, they had it all to do if they were to keep a hold on their unbeaten record since forming in the summer.

The Cooks needed a big push now and Steve Carroll tested the keeper again with a low 20-yard shot, then Dan Hanger launched a free-kick up into the Lions box from inside his own half with Craig Smith managing to get his head to the ball, but he couldn’t guide it on target. Danny, the Lions keeper, isn’t particularly built for speed these days, but he raced out of his box to beat Danny Smith to a ball over the top, then he kept out the same player’s close range shot after a little bit of pinball on the edge of the 6-yard box as the ball turned into a hot potato for a few seconds. A similar scenario occurred moments later following another big Hanger free-kick with Dan Duggan just unable to squeeze the loose ball home from close range and from the resulting Steve Carroll corner, Dan Duggan rose to win the ball with a powerful header that hit the underside of the bar and stayed out and the unbeaten league record was no more.

A decent game of football with many chances that somehow only provided us with the one goal scored by the home side ten minutes from time. Cogenhoe hit the metalwork three times with Leighton also doing so once, but it was Dave Perham’s beautiful curling effort that counts and the six points go to Leighton Lions who will jump up to third once the table is updated from this double header.

Good luck to Leighton Lions in their final three games of the season as they bid for a second place finish, while the Cooks have just two more to go, a home game against Northampton Sovereigns next Sunday (although Compton Park isn’t available due to cup finals so Finbarr will update us with the venue towards the end of the week, then the curtain comes down on their superb season with a trip to play Open University Vets in the city the following weekend.


Cooks; 1. Stuart Schofield 3. Craig Smith 5. Steve Carroll 7. Ricky Smith 8. Sam Duggan 9. Donovan Reed 11. Danny Smith 12. Gary Duggan 14. Dan Hanger © 15. Paul Carroll 17. Dan Duggan. Subs; 2. Lee Haines 10. Phil O’Brien 16. Cormac Hamill (not used).

Referee; Regan Beaumont.

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