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Jack Connor sealed a point for the Cooks with a late equaliser after Earl Atat had given us an early lead, while the late red card to Ben Dimond was the only real negative from our trip to the fens.

Saturday 17th February 2024





Muzychuk 14

Henson 16


Atat 9

Connor 82

Att; 69


The Cooks made there first trip to Yaxley in just over six years and despite not bothering with my Satnav, I only went wrong once in the village enroute to Leading Drove. Opting not to adopt the rather unusual parking method used by the owner of a red Ford in the carpark in front of the back pitch, I made it into the ground safely and in one piece. Not much has changed, if anything as far as the ground goes since their step-four experience, although the 3G surface is looking a little worn these days as it approaches its predicted ten-year life span. In fact, it now resembles the original Omniturf pitches in looks, but thankfully not in bounce as the rubber crumb continues to do its job.

After two weeks without getting in any action, Cooks gaffer made a few changes to his starting line-up as Callum Farmer and the available again Cobblers youngster Matty Ireland were given starts, while Matty’s colleague Josh Rayfield was joined by Luke Bullement on the bench. Brad Ilunga finally sat out his one match ban at the third attempt, while Biff was still missing the injured duo of Ben Gough and Josh Jones who have this week been joined by Bailey Weatherly in the treatment room after the lively front runner picked up an injury at work. Cuckoos boss Simon Roberts made three changes to his starting line-up from the team that beat Rugby Borough 3-0 last weekend as Rio Henson, Sam Adams and Kellan Hickinson all stepped up from the bench with Lil Francisco and Julinho Gomes going the other way. Veteran Mark Baines missed out altogether, so Younus Danyaal was called in on the bench. There were also a couple of familiar faces in the Yaxley line-up as far as the Northamptonshire contingent were concerned in the shape of former Cooks midfielder Faz Rahman and the legend that is keeper Quincy Shorunmu, formerly of Northampton Spencer many, many years ago. Not sure how old he is, but the 30 on his back was surely a big underestimation.

The wind was blowing straight down the pitch from top to bottom and while it was by no means gale-force, it would have a significant influence on the ball in flight and it was the home side who had the advantage of it for the first forty-five minutes and they started brightly too. The lively Hickinson made himself a bit of space just outside the box and hit a beauty of a shot that had John Meadows beaten, but the ball smacked against the bar to the keeper’s right and came back into play with just 2 minutes on the clock. Jack Connor did well down the left and played a low ball inside looking for Kieron Mobbs, but Shorunmu dived at his feet to win the ball, then a couple of minutes later Connor went through the centre himself and forced Shorunmu into the game’s first save. The Cooks took the lead on 9 minutes with an excellent piece of play that saw Dom Wysocki play a great ball into the path of Earl Atat’s run down the channel and the right-back controlled it well to get inside the box before opening his account with a cool low finish past the keeper at the near post.

The lead didn’t last too long though as Yaxley used the wind to their advantage on 14 minutes as Shorunmu launched a big kick down the field that Henson battled with Ben Dimond for on the edge of the box and the luck was with the Cuckoo’s player as it fell at his feet and he laid it to his right for Oleksandr Muzychuk to fire into the roof of the net from a few yards out. Hickinson was allowed to run unchallenged through the centre, but Dimond intercepted the ball well, but on 16 minutes the home side took the lead for the first time in the game with a great finish from Henson, who curled his shot into the far corner from around the edge of the box. Three goals in seven minutes and the Cooks found themselves with it all to do, but plenty of time to do it in.

Ireland made a quick burst down the left flank before crossing to Connor who steered the ball just the wrong side of the post from the edge of the 6-yard box, then the striker had another chance from a Harley Mallard clearance, but despite holding off his marker well, he couldn’t get any real power behind his hooked volley and it as a result it wasn’t of any real concern to the keeper. Yaxley were next to go close as Muzychuk hit a free-kick from a foot outside the area that forced Meadows to make a good save and the keeper recovered quickly to hold on to Harvey Robertson’s follow up from close range. Meadows was in the thick of it again shortly afterwards when he came to the edge of the box to beat Henson to a through ball and the Yaxley man caught the keeper while he was off the ground. Referee Oliver Hollyoak showed the Cuckoos player the game’s first yellow card and while it was definitely a foul, it was a little harsh on him as the ball was there to be won and there was no intent on his part. It was also a little bit of a surprise to see the aforementioned card after it had stayed firmly in the referee’s pocket a few minutes earlier despite a clear case of deliberate handball by Efraim Romanos as Cogenhoe broke.

Hickinson did really well to ride a couple of challenges just outside the box, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post, then the same player went for goal from fully 35-yards out after spotting Meadows off his line, but he neither found the height or the accuracy his ambitious effort required. Meadows did have to dive to his left to push away a well-struck Romanos free-kick as the home side looked for a third before the break, then Harvey Henderson had a half-chance inside the box, but the ball wouldn’t drop kindly for him and he spooned his shot into the safety of Meadows’ waiting gloves. Wysocki cut inside from the right and was brought down by Jay Chilvers as Romanos took the ball. The free-kick was correctly given, but Romanos was furious as he felt it had been given against him. Just a quick explanation from one of the two officials would have quickly smoothed this down. Farmer sent it towards the back stick where Sonny Knights steered it at goal, but unfortunately for him it was straight at Shorunmu at point-blank range. Hickinson was again a threat as he got himself deep inside the box on the right before firing a low shot across Meadows, but the Cooks keeper was equal to it with a very good save.

A very lively and entertaining first half which saw the home side take in a slender advantage, but the Cooks would have the benefit of the wind for the rest of the game.


Half-time; Cuckoos 2 Cooks 1


No changes for either manager at the break and we were treated to a nice move from the Cooks that started with the ever-cool Mallard defending with ease and setting the move off that saw Farmer find Connor who sent Ireland down the left before sending over a cross that Shorunmu caught above his head on the edge of his 6-yard box. Connor and Ireland exchanged passes before the former found Paddy Cichosz 25-yards out and he took a touch before hitting a sweet shot that forced Shorunmu to reach up and tip it over the top. Farmer sent a free-kick into the box that was a little too high for Mallard, although the skipper did well to get his head to it even if he couldn’t direct it on target, then Ireland sent a looping cross into the box that Knights and Shorunmu both went for and although the Cooks player managed to get his head to the ball first, the pair collided in mid air leaving them both on the ground needing treatment. Thankfully both were able to continue despite the ‘crunch’ and equally heavy landing that followed.

A major talking point followed shortly afterwards when the assistant referee raised his flag as Ireland ran clear through on the left. He had clearly run past the defender to do this, but we were to find out from the position of the free-kick that the flag had gone up against Connor in the centre-circle who had not been anywhere near the ball and thus not interfering with play. Andy Batty pointed this out to the ref and was shown the yellow card, although I must say on this occasion, I do sympathise with him somewhat even if his comments were never going to change anything on the field. Cichosz found his Brazilian side with some nice control and skill to match as he beat three defenders inside the Yaxley half, then Wysocki and Ireland combined well on the right with a delightful flick by Mobbs creating a crossing chance for Dom and although one of the Henderson brothers (are they twins?) got his head to the ball first, Cichosz stretched to get to the ball to shoot and Connor followed up to his right with his effort being blocked for a corner. Farmer swung it in deep where Mallard got up well to head it back across the box to Dimond, but his central defensive partner could only direct his header wide of the target.

Henson hit a decent strike from the edge of the box that Meadows dealt with well, a Mobbs cross from the left caught the wind and had Shorunmu retreating quickly and relieved to see the ball land on the roof of the net, then back down the other end Henson turned well inside the box and forced Meadows into a fine save with his boot to stop the ball finding the far corner. Carlin made a triple change on 71 minutes with Josh Rayfield, Jamari Hart and Luke Bullement coming on for Farmer, Cichosz and Wysocki and then three minutes later Sharma Bako replaced Ireland at the same time as Roberts took off former Cook Rahman in favour of Gomes. Biff made it five changes in eight minutes with his final throw of the dice as Dex Nkrumah replaced the limping Knights for the final push.

Trailing 2-1, this was now a very attacking formation from the Cooks, perhaps a throw-back to one of Biff’s idols King Kevin, but we needed to do something quickly if we were to get something out of this game. Hart made a driving run that was ended just outside the box by Francisco who became the second player on the pitch to be cautioned and Rayfield sent over a great free-kick that Mallard headed goalwards, only to be headed off the line by a defender. The Cooks had been knocking on the door with a much-improved performance since the subs and they drew themselves level on 82 minutes as16-year old Rayfield sent in a great cross that Connor stooped to head emphatically past Shorunmu from the edge of the 6-yard box. The Cooks could now sense a win on the road with the intensity of their game forcing Yaxley to drop deeper. Nkrumah gave chase inside the box on the left, but the ball got away from him on the surface, then he was on the opposite flank with some good play that saw him try and find Bako inside, but a defender got across to cut it out with a goal-kick being given.

Rayfield delivered a good free-kick from just inside the Yaxley half to the right and Connor got his head to it with the ball looping over for a corner off a defender, but with five of the original six minutes of added time played, thing were to get a little heated on the half-way line. Dimond caught Gomes with a poor challenge and was shown the yellow card. A few of the home players reacted and went for the Cooks defender as a pushing competition briefly took over from the football. The referee spoke to both of his assistants before coming back across and showing Dimond the red card for what he would later inform us was a punch. He then did the customary book a player from each team for there part in the kerfuffle with Nkrumah and Romanos the chosen pair. Maybe the Romanos one was for the hand-ball, but on an elongated time delay.

Handbags now put away, the ten-man Cooks were still pushing on looking for a win and a great ball across the face of the goal from Bako was inches ahead of Hart, then Nkrumah hit a fierce volley from the edge of the box that hit a defender on the arm. The Cooks shouted for a penalty, but it was ball to hand rather than the other way round and would have been extremely harsh on the defender had it been given. Hickinson blotted his copybook with a very poor pass straight at Nkrumah who raced for goal with just Shurunmu to beat, but Hickinson sprinted back to redeem himself with a superb tackle inside the box. The last opportunity came when Bako found Hart inside the box on the left, but he couldn’t find a teammate with his cross and the final whistle blew.

A very entertaining game and the draw was probably the fairest outcome on the afternoon. Controversial at times, four very good goals and plenty to talk about too. John Meadows made some very good saves at vital times in the game and both defences were worked by the opposition today. It was good to see Matty Ireland and Josh Rayfield back in a Cogenhoe shirt, albeit the horrible grey one, and once again they were both influential in the game.  It was great to see Earl Atat get his first goal for the Cooks, while Jack Connor was bagging his eighth down the other end with a great striker’s finish. My man-of-the-match today goes to Kieran Mobbs who was up and down the left wing all game, stopping a number of attacks in his usual unassuming way, while setting up his teammates down the other end whenever the chance arose.

All the best to Yaxley until we meet again at Compton Park later in the season, Simon Roberts has built a good squad there with some exciting players on show and like us, they just need to find that consistency to be knocking on the door of the play-offs next season.


Next up is a scheduled trip to Leicester Nirvana on Tuesday night, although with a lot of rain forecast between now and then, please keep an eye on our social media pages for any updates.



Yaxley; 30. Quincy Shorunmu 2. Harvey Robertson (sub 17. Younus Danyaal 83) 4. Jay Chilvers © 5. Finlay Henderson 6. Harvey Henderson 7. Rio Henson (sub 14. Ahston Haslam 83) 9. Oleksandr Muzychuk (sub 10. Matthew Hercules 61) 11. Kellan Hickinson 12. Fayed Rahman (sub 20. Julinho Gomes 74) 19. Efraim Romanos 27. Sam Adams (sub 15. Lil Francisco 61).

Yellow cards; Henson (30) Foul. Francisco (80) Foul. Romanos (90+5) Violent conduct.

Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Kieron Mobbs 4. Callum Farmer (sub 14. Josh Rayfield 71) 5. Ben Dimond 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Matty Ireland (sub 15. Sharma Bako 74) 8. Paddy Cichosz (sub 12. Luke Bullement 71) 9. Jack Connor 10. Sonny Knights (sub 17. Dex Nkrumah 78) 11. Dominic Wysocki (sub 16. Jamari Hart 71)

Red card; Dimond (90+5) Violent conduct. Yellow cards; Dimond (90+5) Foul. Nkrumah (90+5) Violent conduct.

Referee; Oliver Hollyoak Assts; Ed Brandon & Tom England.




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