First half goals from Adams, Elmore and Bates count for nothing as Cooks throw it away with an inept second half performance.
Saturday 16th April 2022
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (3) 3 LONG BUCKBY (1) 4
Stone 55 (pen)
With the weather more suited to cricket, even the gentle breeze at Compton Park couldn’t stop this being a glorious afternoon for a Northamptonshire derby as we welcomed Long Buckby to the village. Darren and Chris were without Alex Vaughan who has joined in the current trend of going down with covid, but Will Bates returned to the starting line, whilst Dan Mortimer had to settle for a place on the bench. Jessi Obeng is back from University for the Easter break to take the number fourteen shirt, where he was joined by U18s player Nzube Nwosu in his first call up to the first team squad. Buckby manager Dan Gibson wasn’t as fortunate though as he put out a very young looking side due to a number of absences for various reasons and even named himself on the bench to bring the numbers up.
The game got off to a brisk start despite the heat and Josh Adams played a nice ball through for Archie Elmore to run on to inside the box on the left, but a combination of a covering defender and keeper John Meadows meant he couldn’t take advantage. Tom Wakley received the ball at his feet in the box and held off his marker before turning and hitting a low shot towards the bottom corner, but Meadows got down well to make a very good save. Paddy Cichosz defended well to stop Tyler Reeve doing any damage as he cut inside down the left to get to the bye-line, whilst back down the village end where Luca Iaciofano battled well to win the ball and lay it off for Wakley on the edge of the box, but he was robbed of the ball by a very timely tackle form Joe Pursey.
Cichosz was caught in possession inside his own half by Leo Stone, but he opted to go for goal early and his low shot from distance was always going the wrong side of Craig Foxall’s right-hand post. Bates was caught late in a challenge and for the first of many times today, the three wise officials ‘saw no evil’, but a Bucks defender put the ball out of play to the prone Cooks player could be treated by the healing hands of Steve Ganley. Adams played a ball into the box that Iaciofano couldn’t get under control successfully in the centre, but Adams was soon to play a very big part in the opening goal of the game after 14 minutes. Archie Culley played a good free-kick into the box that Rico Alexander was just beaten to in the air, but the ball came to Adams on the edge of the box to the left of the goal and he hit an absolute screamer that flew across the keeper and went in off the inside of the post fractionally below bar height. A definite contender for the Cooks goal-of-the-season (if we had such a thing that is). The Bucks had certainly been giving it their all up to this point, but I did feel at the time that the Cooks probably deserved to take the early lead.
Elmore won a fifty-fifty and made a strong run into the visitor’s box only to see his shot blocked, then some great play in the box by Iaciofano allowed Elmore to get in a shot, but Meadows dived to make a very good save. Elmore, despite being on the deck now managed to poke the ball back towards the waiting Iaciofano in the centre, but unfortunately for the Cooks, he knocked it past him and the chance was gone. Elmore again burst past his man to get into the box, using his strength along the way, but this time he couldn’t find either Wakley or Iaciofano in the centre and Buckby cleared the ball up field.
On 22 minutes the game changed as we gifted the visitors a goal at a time that we looked likely to add to our advantage. A good run by Tom Bishop had put the Cooks defence under some pressure, but when the ball came to Jack Riley he opted to pass it back to Foxall, but it went straight to Baillie O’Reilly who had the simple task of rolling the ball wide of the now out of place keeper and inside the far post. Not the first time this season we had thrown away the lead by giving away an unnecessary goal I’m afraid. Buckby probably should have taken the lead a minute later as Bishop again caused us problems deep inside our own half and although Adams managed to get a foot in, the ball fell very kindly for Max Proudlock who lifted it over the keeper, but also put it wide of the post. The goal had certainly changed the game as Buckby were now enjoying the attacking play and a lovely through ball by Proudlock put O’Reilly clear and he forced a brilliant one handed save from Foxall who, again not for the first time this season, kept his teammates in the game. A strong run down the left by Jordan Hayward saw him clip the ball over the face of the goal with no teammates attacking which was lucky for the Cooks as we had been opened right up as Buckby enjoyed their spell on top.
Giving all that had gone on before, it was the Cooks that executed the perfect break to retake the lead, albeit against the run of play over the previous ten minutes. Ryan Archer won the ball at the back and Culley took over with a defence splitting through ball up to Elmore and he held off his man well as he got into the box and slotted the ball past Meadows and just inside the post. 27 minutes played and the Cooks were back in the lead, then starting to get their grip back on the game, they went 3-1 up with 31 minutes on the clock. Elmore did well inside the box and Will Bates hit a powerful goal-bound shot on the volley that Meadows threw himself across the get his hands to, but he could only palm it up in the air and the determined Bates ran on to steer the ball home with his head from seven yards out.
Iaciofano ran on to a through ball, but the ball bobbled on the hard pitch meaning he couldn’t get into a shooting position quick enough to beat the out-coming Meadows, then play went straight down the other end where Bishop headed over the bar from a good position. It was so nearly four just before the break when Iaciofano delivered a superb chipped cross into the box where Wakley rose to steer his header at goal, but it went agonisingly inches wide of the post with the keeper surely helpless to do anything about it.
A very good first 45 minutes of entertaining attacking football. Cooks had enjoyed the better of it on the whole, apart from that ten-minute period where things could have gone in a totally different direction.
Half-time; Cooks 3 Bucks 1
No changes at the break for either side as we got back under way attacking the clubhouse end. A slip in midfield allowed the Bucks to break with Proudlock successfully feeding O’Reilly on the edge of the box, but Foxall came out quickly to dive at his feet and win the ball. O’Reilly jumped over the keeper and seemed to land heavily on the rock-hard surface and was clearly in some pain. After treatment he was helped from the pitch with Carrick Bromage taking his place with 49 minutes played. (I spoke to Baillie after the game and although he had an icepack on his knee, he said he felt ok so hopefully no damage done and he will be back playing soon).
Foxall was again off his line quickly to block Bromage’s shot as the sub found himself clear through one-on-one with the keeper. The Cooks keeper then did really well to come outside his box to jump high and head the ball away with Tyler Reeve chasing a high ball forward. just before Reeve found Stone on the left and he played in a good cross that Bishop could only head over. We were riding our luck quite a lot after failing to turn up from the restart and Buckby deserved their equaliser, although they needed a penalty kick to get past the always-reliable Mr Foxall. I think it was Bishop who got the better of Adams to get inside the box on the right with the Cooks player stretching to try and get the ball, but instead took his legs away with referee Mark Simmons pointing to the spot. Leo Stone hit his penalty well, but Foxall dived to his right to get his hand to the ball and was unlucky not to keep it out, but Buckby were definitely back in this game at 3-2 with 65 minutes gone.
The scores were level at 3-3 two minutes later with a very good goal from the visitors, although again it came after Cichosz had given away an unnecessary free-kick on the left. It may well have been a training ground move as Proudlock whipped the free-kick across and Tom Bishop launched himself to meet the ball with an unstoppable diving header just beyond the far post to tie things up again. Buckby had been by far the better side since the restart with Bishop a real threat so perhaps the visitor’s and the scorer deserved this as the Cooks let a two-goal lead slip away.
The equaliser seemed to be the kick up the proverbial backside that Cogenhoe needed as they finally realised the half-time break had ended. A very good ball from Culley created an opportunity for Wakley on the edge of the box and lifted his shot over Meadows, but the keeper did really well to get his fingertips to the ball at full-stretch and touch it just over the top. Culley sent over the corner and Alexander got up to win it in the air, but his header was wide of the far post. Wakley sent over a deep cross from the left that Bates brilliantly headed back across the goal on the line. Iaciofano was in the centre and would have steered the ball on target had he not been pulled back and put off balance by Andy Yeates inside the 6-yard box. No VAR in the UCL I’m afraid so it was down to the officials to give the penalty, but they were happy to let things continue. Moments later Bates knocked the ball past Proudlock inside the box with the ball being stopped by the Buckby skipper’s arm, but again no penalty award with the ref stating it had been played on the chest.
A good move saw Iaciofano play the ball to Wakley on the right and he cut it back to Elmore who set up Bates just outside the box, but his shot flew over the bar. Elmore was fouled deep inside the Buckby half with no foul given, but Bates nipped in to win the ball back only to be tripped from behind with Pursey becoming the first recipient of the yellow card with seven minutes remaining. A couple of subs followed with Sam Collins replacing Reeve and Elmore making way for Jessi Obeng.
I have to say I’m not sure what happened in the 84th minute other than we clearly didn’t defend a ball into our box well and as it bounced Bromage was left with a simple finish from close range to put Buckby into the lead for the first time in the game.
Two more late subs for the Cooks saw Mortimer come on for Riley and Nwosu make his first team debut at the expense of Culley with four minutes of normal time to go. Cichosz found Bates on the right and his first time cross took a deflection into the keeper’s hands, whilst down the other end Foxall came off his line really quickly to deny Bromage the chance of a fifth goal for the visitors. The last chance of the game came deep into stoppage time when Alexander played a free-kick from inside his own half up into the Buckby box and Wakley won the first header, it then came off a defender’s head before Wakley again pounced with his head, but the ball was off-target and Buckby had taken the points.
Game of two halves might be an annoying cliché, but it summed this game up perfectly. With the exception of giving away a cheap goal and the ten-minute spell after it, the Cooks had looked good for their lead and it could have been more than 3-1 at the break. The second half was completely different though as we didn’t really wake up until the game had been levelled by the visitors and if it hadn’t been for Craig Foxall the end result could have been even worse. Archie Elmore and Josh Adams were both looking back to their best after below par showings at Oadby last week, with Tom Wakley and Luca Iaciofano both working their socks off to make things happen when they got the ball at the business end of the field. The second half team performance was way below what we should have expected as we pumped hopeful long balls that gave the hard-working forwards little chance and frequently gave the ball away with slack passing or dwelling to long at the back. The second half performance must rate as one of the worst 45 minutes this season and if we take this into the final two games of the season we are only going to slip further down the table I’m afraid. Man-of-the-match today goes to Craig Foxall who saved his defence several times today.
Next up is O.N Chenecks in the first team’s final home game of the season and with the visitors having to get something from this game to stay up we can expect a very tough game from our local rivals. This game is on Wednesday night with a 7-45 kick-off.
Cooks; 1. Craig Foxall 2. Will Bates 3. Josh Adams 4. Paddy Cichosz 5. Jack Riley (sub 12. Dan Mortimer 86) 6. Rico Alexander © 7. Archie Culley (sub 15. Nzube Nwosu 86) 8. Ryan Archer 9. Tom Wakley 10. Archie Elmore (sub 14. Jessi Obeng 83) 11. Luca Iaciofano.
Long Buckby; 1. John Meadows 2. Joe Pursey 3. Jordan Hayward 4. Dom Bolton 5. Andy Yeates 6. Callum Whitehead 7. Tom Bishop 8. Tyler Reeve (sub 14. Sam Collins 83) 9. Baillie O’Reilly (sub 12. Carrick Bromage 49) 10. Max Proudlock © 11. Leo Stone. Sub not used; 15. Dan Bishop.
Referee; Mark Simmons
Assts; Simon Cheney & Neil Arthur