A late, late goal from Harley Mallard saw the Cooks make it three wins on the bounce with Lutterworth their latest victims.
Saturday 23rd December 2023
UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (1) 2 LUTTERWORTH TOWN (1) 1
The Cooks looked to extend their unbeaten run and their winning home streak as they entertained Lutterworth Town two days before Christmas. Scott Carlin was forced into a few changes with his squad with Bailey Weatherly, Dalton Leon and Josh Jones all joining Luke Bullement on the unavailable list, with Dylan Wilson pulling out ill in the morning. He was however able to call on all four of his midweek signings for today’s game with Dominik Wysocki starting, while there was also a recall for Callum Farmer. The returning Paddy Cichosz and Cobblers pair Matty Ireland and Josh Raybould were named on the bench where they were joined by Lewis Green who returned from an injury that has kept sidelined for a couple of months. Lutterworth manager Will Andrew made three changes to the team that had pushed Racing Club Warwick all the way in their previous game as Dylan Parish, Elliott Butler and Nick Reeves came into the starting eleven as Harvey Westwood dropped to the bench where he joined new signing Sam Leary and veteran forward Brian Ndlovu. Another seasoned player in Mark Warren started a suspension for picking up his fifth booking of the season, timed well to allow him to enjoy the festivities to the max before returning to action.
The wind was going to be a major factor this afternoon, just as it had in two of the previous three encounters between these two sides at Compton Park with Lutterworth having the advantage in the first half as they attacked the village end and the Swifts certainly made use of this as they took the lead on 3 minutes. A ball lofted over the top was controlled nicely by Nuno Gomes inside the box as he ran clear and touched it past John Meadows to leave himself with the easiest of tap ins from close range. The Cooks hit back immediately and were very unlucky not square things up within a minute when Farmer’s free-kick came back to him off a defender and he released Ben Gough down the left who took it into the box before sending a low ball into the near post where Jack Connor got the first touch, only for the ball to cannon back into play off the post before hitting Butler and rebounding safely into the arms of keeper Warren Butlin.
The Cooks didn’t have to wait long to draw level though, in fact there were 7 minutes on the clock when Connor found the target. A great run through the centre by Wysocki saw the new boy carve open the visiting defence before slipping a great ball through to Jack Connor who coolly slotted it past Butlin and into the net for his fourth goal of the season. Brad Ilunga got his head to an awkward ball that had drifted on the wind and it dropped to Gomes inside the box, but his volley was easily dealt with by Meadows. Andy Batty picked up his fourth yellow card of the season, assumedly for a comment aimed at the officials just before Butler’s shot from the right corner of the box looked dangerous as he hit it, but flattered to deceive as it didn’t even reach the goal as he sliced through his effort. Powerful striker Nick Reeves made a run deep into enemy territory before releasing James Sanderson just inside the box and he really did middle his shot, but Cooks skipper Harley Mallard got his body behind to block. Back down the other end and Connor very nearly played Sonny Knights clear inside the box but for a good interception by Sanderson, then Wysocki left the full-back wanting as he flew past him before drilling a low ball across the box that had to be cut out at the expense of a corner kick. Farmer’s delivery was always going away from the goal and when the ball was worked back to him just beyond the left corner of the box, he spooned his next effort well over the bar.
Gough was a little lucky not to be booked as he flicked the back of Gomes’ calf after losing out, but his next challenge did see him cautioned for a foul on Hne Wilson moments later. This one certainly wasn’t a yellow card offence, but coming so quickly after his let off I wasn’t surprised to see referee Sam Waterhouse brandish his yellow card. The foul had been committed just inside the Cooks half on the right and Sanderson launched it into box with Wilson rising to meet it with his head, but he couldn’t direct it on target. Brad Coleman launched himself into a challenge on Gough on 36 minutes with the referee judging it to be a dangerous one and fished the yellow card out of his pocket again, but the effect on the Cooks man meant he was soon forced to limp off holding his knee, giving Ireland an early chance on the field. Kieron Mobbs dropped back to left-back with the young sub playing in front of him. A huge kick from Butlin sent Gomes running for goal, but Earl Atat matched him and was able to steer the ball safely back to Meadows before the striker could get to it. A poor corner from Farmer allowed the visitors to break quickly and the Cooks were fortunate to win a free-kick as Mobbs was caught by Wilson as he broke clear and the two teams went into the break level pegging at one apiece.
Half-Time; Cooks 1 Swifts 1
With the wind now at their backs, the Cooks started the second half on the front foot with Ireland getting past his man at pace before being brought down just beyond the right corner of the penalty area and Farmer’s delivery somehow went just wide of the far post after a defender had got a touch to it. Connor made a good run into the box down the left only to be stopped by a great challenge from Williams, then Ireland got into the box courtesy of a great first touch, but Butlin was quick to react and win the ball by diving at his feet. Reeves became the third Lutterworth player to go into the book for a shirt pull on 56 minutes, then Williams joined him three minutes later after catching Farmer late near the half-way line. Farmer sent it into the box with Mallard getting his head to the ball, but he could only direct it straight at Butlin.
The wind had abated somewhat by the middle of the second half and Wilson managed to keep possession under pressure from Mobbs inside the box on the right before pulling the ball back to Butler in a central position and he hit a first time shot that Mallard blocked. Reeves ran on to a well-placed pass to get inside the box, but he slipped under pressure from Ilunga and the chance had gone. Farmer made way for Cichosz on 69 minutes as the popular midfielder returned to the blue after a few months away. Butlin raced out of his box to beat Ireland to a through ball and clear his lines just before Wysocki did well to get past his man on the edge of the box and was unlucky to see the ball roll away from him and through to Butlin.
Wysocki got into the box again moments later, this time drawing Butlin off his line before squaring to Connor, but the striker’s first-time shot was too close to the defender now covering on the goal line and he kicked the ball clear. Devine Okyere was shown the yellow card on 70 minutes for a clumsy challenge on Knights, while both managers took off their number elevens with Josh Rayfield replacing Knights and Wilson making way for Sam Leary. Reeves misjudged a lovely Gomes cross in the air deep inside the Cooks penalty area, while down the other end Ben Dimond headed a deep Rayfield free-kick back across the face of goal. Connor came off on 76 minutes to give Dennis Nkrumah a run out, while Gomes fired well over with an early effort after a mistake by Dimond in the centre of the field. Lutterworth were looking quite dangerous now and Okyere played a ball through to Gomes and his shot was deflected wide, but the Cooks were still looking for a winner themselves and a driving run by Cichosz saw him play a one-two with Ireland before bursting into the box down the left and placing a low shot across Butlin, but the keeper got down at full stretch to get his hand to the shot that had been heading just inside the far post.
A great tackle by Ireland saw him get to the edge of the box before he was fouled by Tom Marrs as the Town midfielder caught him with one foot as he took the ball with the other. Rayfield sent the free-kick towards the back stick, but Butlin rose to catch it cleanly. Okyere made way for Benji Adamako as we entered the last five minutes and the visitors went close when Reeves forced a save out of Meadows at the near post with his well-struck effort, while down the village end Butlin had to stretch to turn Wysocki’s cross-shot around the post as he curled it from the right. Brian Ndlovu joined the action late on in place of the hard-working Reeves, but it was the Cooks who were to sneak the win deep into stoppage time. Rayfield sent in a free-kick from in front of the dug-outs that Butlin lost above his head under pressure from Ilunga and Harley Mallard turned the ball over the line from a matter of inches out as the skipper became the match-winner. Marrs was sent to the sinbin for his protests and Lewis Green came on for Wysocki before the restart, but time had run out for the visitors as the Cooks made it three on the bounce and extend their unbeaten run to five matches.
This was never going to be a pretty game with the blustery wind going straight down the pitch at a rate of knots and in truth we couldn’t have complained if Lutterworth had took a point from this rather scrappy affair, but the goal count reads two to one and that is all that will be remembered in the weeks to come. It was another decent defensive showing for the Cooks which is very encouraging with Jack Connor having a very good game down the other end. Matty Ireland and Josh Rayfield both look to be exciting signings for the club and showed no sign of nerves in their first game in an adult league, while Paddy Cichosz showed what we have been missing in his absence. Man of the match today goes to the other new face as Dominik Wysocki went past his marker several times, set up the first goal with a great piece of play and put a number of dangerous balls into the box. I can see him and Conner becoming a formidable pairing in the games to come and when you consider the quality we were missing today, Biff is going to have that one headache all manager’s don’t mind with strength in depth all over the squad. All the best to Will Andrew and his squad for the rest of the season.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and hope to see many of you on Boxing Day when we travel to Newport Pagnell Town for a 1PM kick-off at Willen Road.
Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Ben Gough (sub 12. Matty Ireland 38) 4. Ben Dimond 5. Bradley Ilunga 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Kieron Mobbs 8. Callum Farmer (sub 17. Paddy Cichosz 69) 9. Jack Connor (sub 16. Dennis Nkrumah 76) 10. Dom Wysocki (sub 15. Lewis Green 90+3) 11. Sonny Knights (sub 14. Josh Rayfield 72).
Swifts; 1. Warren Butlin 2. Brad Coleman 3. James Sanderson 4. Dylan Parish 5. Brandon Williams 6. Tom Marrs 7. Nuno Gomes 8. Elliott Butler 9. Nick Reeves (sub 17. Brian Ndlovu 89) 10. Devine Okyere (sub 15. Benji Adamako 85) 11. Hne Wilson 72). Subs not used; 14. Harvey Westwood 18. Luke Thompson.
Referee; Sam Waterhouse Assts; Gary Halliday & Stewart Glendenning
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