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The Cooks twice hit the post in the first half, but the Red & Greens run away with it after the break.

Saturday 23rd March 2024





Dube 23, 86

Morgan 52

Baynham 55

Stanton 73


Att; 195


The Cooks made the trip into Coventry on Saturday hoping to extend their unbeaten record against the Red & Greens, with the artificial pitch a welcome relief after Tuesday night. It was a typical early spring day with my drive up from Milton Keynes being completed without a hint of rain, while assistant referee Kevan Atkins made his way up from nearby Yardley Gobion in wet weather all the way. The wind was also blustering around the stadium making it difficult to judge where the ball would actually end up when it went in the air, plus it was distinctively chilly compared to the last few days.

Scott Carlin brought in midfield pair Ben Dimond and Sonny Knights who took over from Cobblers Academy lads Josh Rayfield and Matty Ireland, while Keiron Mobbs started at left back allowing Dalton Leon to take over from Tejan Thomas who was needed by Rushden & Diamonds today. New signing Kai Fifield was named on the bench where he was joined by the returning Sharma Bako. Coventry United manager Ellis Alleyne made four changes to his starting eleven with Ryley Nicholson, Karabo Motschweni, Charlie Morgan and Felix Donkor all coming in as Abdul Bambeh and Mitch Mollison dropped down to the bench, while Alex Vineall and Daniel Cassidy missed out all altogether.

The Cooks defended the Butts Road end in the first half with something of a wind advantage and soon won a free-kick 25-yards out that Paddy Cichosz put on target, but it was an easy take for keeper Harvey Randle, who incidentally was playing the final game of his loan spell from Alvechurch. A neat move down the left saw Mobbs send over a good cross that Nicholson did well to get his head to in front of Jack Connor as it held up in the wind, but Nicholson was to be shown the yellow card in the Cooks next attack for a foul a couple of yards outside the box with just five minutes gone, but Cichosz hit this one straight into the wall. John Meadows had his first real action of the game when he had to nip out quickly to clear a through ball before Donkor could reach it while back down the other end another decent cross from Mobbs saw a defender slice the ball up onto his own arm before it bounced safely into the arms of Randle.

Dimond rolled a pass into the feet of Connor just inside the box where Nicholson robbed him with a timely challenge before throwing himself into a tackle to beat Cichosz on the edge. This tackle had to be timed to perfection given the fact he was already on a yellow card and happily for the home crowd, it was. A good run by Wysocki ended when he curled his shot the wrong side of the post from just outside the box, then a neat move allowed Wysocki to pick out Jamari Hart but his effort from 18-yards died in wind. Coventry had been on the attack a few times, but hadn’t really been a threat to our defence, but it was they who got that important first goal of the game on 23 minutes. Harry Wilson made himself some space down the right and sent in a cross towards the far post that should have been dealt with, but Brad Ilunga let it go past him with Stanley Dube lifting his boot to the ball to steer it past Meadows and into the far corner from close range. The goal was certainly against the run of play at the time and a very soft one to concede which added to the pain.

Spurred on by taking the lead, the Red & Greens were showing more belief and Motschweni put a 25-yards free-kick on target without really stretching Meadows before Wilson whipped over another high cross that went straight out beyond the far post. Meadows did have to deal with Wilson’s next delivery from the right as his high cross held up and swerved in the wind, but the Cooks keeper did really well to catch it cleanly before landing on top of Dube, but thankfully both were OK. Cichosz was caught from behind as he turned away from Liam Merrick with referee Jakub Gierczyk deciding a stiff lecture was required on this occasion and from the short free kick, Leon played it towards the far post where Earl Atat headed it back into the centre where Hart set up Connor whose low shot was blocked behind for a corner inside the 6-yard box. Coventry had a great chance to double their lead when Dube was left in space deep inside the box, but he hesitated which forced him wider and when he laid it back to Joe Blowers, his cross went out untouched beyond the far post.

Blowers got into the box on the right but placed his shot wide of the far post, then the same player’s turn and powerful shot from the edge of the area hit Leon and cannoned over for a corner. The Cooks were close to an equaliser when another lovely cross from Mobbs saw Knights win the ball in the air and his header looped over the keeper before hitting the inside of the far post with a defender hacking it away before Connor could pounce on the loose ball. Wysocki went for goal from the 22-yard line (they play at Coventry Rugby Club) but his effort flew the wrong side of the post, then Wysocki saw another shooting opportunity following a corner with his effort going over the bar this time from the right corner of the box. A great challenge from Mobbs won the ball in the centre and he played it into the feet of Connor just inside the box and he took a touch before laying it square to Dom Wysocki, but it was a fraction behind him and his first touch didn’t create the shooting chance he wanted and he caught the heel of Ethan Baynham to concede a free kick. It was so nearly 1-1 just before the break when Hart played in leading scorer Connor who hammered his shot past the keeper, only to see it smack the post and come back into play.

I said in my preview that this was likely to be a close game and the Cooks were unlucky to be trailing at the break, especially when you take into account the fact that they had hit the woodwork twice already, but it does appear that our luck is out at the moment.


Half-time; Cov Utd 1 Cooks 0


Dimond limped off at half-time which was a real blow as the holding midfielder had closed down well and seems to have forged a good bond with Cichosz in the centre, so on came Callum Farmer in his place. Alleyne also made a change with Charlie Stanton replacing Donkor up front and although I don’t know if this was tactical or enforced, the sub certainly proved to be a handful right from the first whistle.

Cogenhoe started brightly again with Farmer lifting a free kick into the danger area and then Cichosz met his shot well from a few yards outside the box, but it flew just over the bar, but once again they were to concede when it looked like they might be about to get on top. It was an excellent move from the home team with great one-touch football seeing them pass through our team with the final movement seeing Merrick set up Morgan who finished well from inside the box. With Dimond off the pitch, they were now finding space to play centrally and that is where this move started from and now we found ourselves 2-0 down with 52 minutes played (although the tannoy announcer did temporarily gift us with a goal which he sadly retracted very quickly). Coventry were now playing with real confidence and Stanton sent a dangerous ball across the box that Leon cut out for a corner on the left and a perfect delivery saw centre-back Baynham rise at the far post to head home. Meadows did well to get his fingers to it, but he couldn’t keep it out. 3-0 on 55 minutes and the closeness of the first-half had all but evaporated now.

Merrick, who would have been fouled out in basketball, brought down Cichosz 25-yards from goal, but Farmer sent his free kick wide of the keeper’s left post just before Biff tried to shake things up with a double change just after the hour as he brought on Bailey Weatherly and Dex Nkrumah for the unfortunate Cichosz and Hart. Never one to shy away from the action, Weatherly’s first touch saw him play the ball out of his feet 25-yards out and hit powerful shot that Randle caught into his chest cleanly. Motschweni sent over a high cross that drifted wide on the wind before another change for the Cooks saw Fifield make his debut in place of Wysocki on 67 minutes. Dube played a good ball into the box for Merrick, but this time his first touch let him down, while Fifield’s first contribution in Cogenhoe colours was to try and slip in Knights inside the box, but the ball skidded through on the astroturf and Randle collected. You never seem to have a trench on the pitch when you need one.

We got our first glimpse of Fifield’s pace as he sprinted down the left flank and cut the ball back across the box where a defender was forced to concede a corner at a stretch, but it was the home side who were celebrating again on 73 minutes. Atat did well to get his head to a high ball on the edge of his own box, but he was given no support and left with two players who simply played it around him with Dube playing the ball low across the face of the goal for Stanton to turn home from close range. When Atat won that initial ball there should have been a midfield player in front of him to help, but instead he was left completely isolated. Three more changes before the restart saw Atat come off for Bako, while Coventry replaced Blowers and Motschweni with Bambah and Beckham Whalley.

The Red & Greens were really enjoying their afternoon now and their passing game was opening up the Cooks at regular intervals and one such move saw Dube put through inside the box on the left and he went for the far corner with his low shot from a wide angle that Meadows dived across to turn around the far post with a good save. The final change of the game saw Nicholson, who had been limping for most of the game, finally give way to give Colum Nugent for the last ten minutes or so. It should have been five when Mollison was left totally unmarked in the middle just outside our box and he touched it to Bambah who rolled it onto the path of Stanton in the centre of the box, but he put his shot over the bar. Weatherly won a corner with a long throw, but it was to become 5-0 on 86 minutes when Stanton robbed Leon on the right and ran on to hit a shot that Meadows saved well, but Dube followed up with an emphatic volley form the centre of the box to compound Cogenhoe’s misery. The Cooks had a great chance to pull one back in stoppage time when Mobbs picked out Nkrumah’s run with a great cross, but instead of steering it home first time on the edge of the 6-yard box, he tried to control it and the ball bounced away off his boot. Ryan Oka-Zeh played a ball up to Whalley inside the box and although he found the back of the net, his effort wouldn’t count as Andy Ewing’s flag was already up for offside, then the home side spurned another chance of a sixth goal when Mollison found himself totally clear in the box, but he took way to long and when he finally shot, Ilunga was in place to block.

Cogenhoe’s joint heaviest defeat of the season so far which was a bit harsh considering how close the first-half had been and the fact that we twice hit the post, but there was no taking away Coventry United’s dominance following their second goal from whence they could have inflicted an even bigger scoreline on us. Well done to Coventry today, if they played like they did in the second half every week they would surely be in the play-offs and the Cooks were much better than they were on Tuesday night, even if the final score doesn’t appear to reflect that fact. My man-of-the-match today goes to Sonny Knights who livens things up going forward for the Cooks and worked really hard out there.

Just four more games to go this season now and with the future still very uncertain, it would be great if the lads can put this poor run behind us and finish with a few wins, starting at relegation battlers Eynesbury Rovers next Saturday, before signing off our home campaign against Newport Pagnell Town on Easter Monday afternoon (3pm).


Red & Greens; 1. Harvey Randle 2. Harry Wilson 3. Ryan Oka-Zeh 4. Ryley Nicholson (sub 12. Colum Nugent 81) 5. Ethan Baynham 6. Liam Merrick © 7. Stanley Dube 8. Karabo Motschweni (sub 17, Beckham Whalley 74) 9. Felix Donkor (sub 15. Charlie Stanton ht) 10. Charlie Morgan (sub 14. Mitch Mollison 63)  11. Joe Blowers (sub 16. Abdul Bambah 74).

Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat (sub 17. Sharma Bako 74) 3. Keiron Mobbs 4. Ben Dimond (sub 15. Callum Farmer ht) 5. Brad Ilunga © 6. Dalton Leon 7. Jamari Hart (sub 14. Dex Nkrumah 61) 8. Paddy Cichosz (sub 16. Bailey Weatherly 61) 9. Jack Connor 10. Sonny Knights 11. Dom Wysocki (sub 12. Kai Fifield 67)

Referee; Jakub Gierczyk Assts; Andrew Ewing & Kevan Atkins.


*Tejan Thomas, who was on the bench for Diamonds today, won’t have enjoyed his afternoon very much as his side were hammered 7-1 at Quorn, but the Cobblers boys will be much happier as they both played in the 4-2 win over Brentford. Ireland was unfortunate to turn a cross into his own net early on, but he had the last laugh as his team fought back to pick up their first win since the Merit Table started at the end of the regular league season.




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