Three second half goals keep the visitors on top of the league.
Saturday 4th September 2021
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (0) 0 COVENTRY SPHINX (0) 3
A pleasant late summer afternoon with a breeze blowing down towards the car-park end saw us host early season league leaders Coventry Sphinx as our two clubs met for the first time. The Cooks made a few changes from Tuesday as Lloyd Groves missed out through injury and Faris Rhaman, Tom Wakley and Kobi Bivens dropped down to the bench. Into the starting line-up came Archie Culley, Paddy Cichosz and new signing Declan Rogers, an experienced player who has been playing for Soham this season and who has a habit of scoring every time he plays against the Cooks.
It was a tight opening few minutes to the game with Rico Alexander thwarting a chance for Sphinx as Lewis Noon fired a low ball across the box before a good touch and pass down the flank by Rogers gave Dylan Wilson a chance to run at his man, but he couldn’t get the yard he needed off the full-back to get the ball across the middle. Foxall caught a Danny Fraser free-kick comfortably on the edge of his 6-yard box and then he did the same from a deep cross after Dan Mortimer had done well to cut out a potential defence-splitting pass by Callum Woodward.
Rogers played a nice ball up to Wilson but he couldn’t get away from his marker, then the first real chance came down the other end when James Bryson got his head to a Noon free-kick, but he couldn’t direct it on target. A very good free-kick from Culley on the left saw Alexander challenge in the middle, but referee Gary Lord had seen a push and awarded the visitor’s a free-kick of their own. Jack Downes played the ball through for Lawrence Rawlings inside the box and his angled shot was saved low by Foxall and then the Cooks keeper was well-positioned to save from a Bryson header from beyond the far post from Daniel Kavanagh’s free-kick.
Will Bates won the ball in midfield and Culley dinked a good ball over the top for Wilson but Bryson used his strength to defend the situation well. then down the other end a mistake inside our own half saw two Sphinx players break down the middle, but Alexander recovered really well and got back to get a foot to the ball. Rawlings whipped it back across the goal and Ryan Harkin dived forwards to get his header on target, but Foxall got down quickly to make a decent save. Cooks best chance so far came when Orosz took the ball down the right and Rogers sent over a high looping cross that Bates did really well to head back across the 6-yard box, but Wilson was beaten in the air at the expense of a corner. Rogers delivery was punched back out to him by Sphinx keeper Tom Cross and although Rogers returned it back into the centre, Louis Guest rose highest to head the ball clear.
Harkin played a good ball into the path of Harvey Smith inside the box on the right and his low strike forced a good save out of Foxall at his near post and this proved to be the final chance of the first half. It would be fair to say that the visitors had edge it so far possession-wise and had created the best chances, but there hadn’t been too much between the sides here so far as we headed into the break.
Half-time; Cooks 0 Sphinx 0
An early corner for the visitors was sent over by Woodward and Rawlings saw his header saved by Foxall, but the ball dropped to Harkin close to the goal and his header was too strong for Mortimer to keep out from almost point-blank range and Sphinx had the lead on 46 minutes. Cogenhoe tried to reply immediately but Wilson was beaten in the air from a Culley cross, whilst back down the other end as Cichosz made a good interception as Rawlings looked to be breaking clear on goal.
Smith managed to get his head to a high bouncing ball on the edge of the box before Foxall could get there, but the keeper did enough to make it difficult for the striker and the ball went harmlessly wide. Harkin made a good run into the Cooks area that saw him cut inside his man, but the final touch was a little to heavy and allowed Foxall to come out quickly and dive on the ball. A good ball from Woodward released Harkin in the box on the right, but again Foxall reacted quickly to narrow the angle and blocked his shot. Woodward sent over the corner and Foxall managed to get his fist to the ball in the crowd and when Bryson headed it back, he could only send his looping effort wide of the target.
The first change saw Culley replaced by Wakley with 65 played. The sub went up front to partner Wilson and Rogers dropped back into midfield. The sub was soon winning the ball and finding Bates to his left. He played the ball into Wilson’s feet on the edge of the box, but the marking was tight and he couldn’t make himself any space at all. Noon made way for Josh Willis in the first Sphinx change of the afternoon and as they looked for a second Alexander did well as he calmly steered his header back to the safety of Foxall’s arms.
Callum Stewart came on for the final twenty minutes as he replaced goal scorer Harkin for the hosts. Wakley got a flicked header onto a Cichosz throw in to win a corner and when Mortimer whipped it in Wakley was again the man to glance his header across the face of the goal, but neither Wilson or Orosz could get the vital touch that would have brought us level as the ball went across the face of the goal. Mastropierro sent over a corner from the other side that Rico got the top of his head to. Jack Riley was behind his and he was off-balance as he hit it first time from an angle and Cross saved it low at his near post. Sphinx quickly broke from this and Cichosz was forced to get a foot in, but the ball came to Josh Willis inside the box and although he hit his shot into the ground, the ball flew up and swerved just inside Foxall’s right hand post. 2-0 to the visitors with just thirteen minutes to try and salvage something from this game for the Cooks.
The final subs came on over the next couple of minutes as Sphinx replaced Smith with Madundo Semahimbo and shortly afterwards Craig Adams made a double swap with Rogers and Mastropierro giving way for Rhaman and Bivens. Rawlings tried to play Willis clear in the box but again Foxall was quick off the mark and got to the ball first. Semahimbo made a strong run through the middle before hitting a low shot that took a deflection wide of the post, then Orosz made a run into the box but fired over. The game was well and truly over with just a minute left of the ninety when an excellent free-kick from Fraser picked out Stewart at the far post and his powerful header flew into the back of the net.
Foxall made another good save after Wooward’s excellent run saw him cut inside and fire in a shot and as we went into stoppage time Willis put his foot to Foxall’s drop-kick leaving the keeper on the floor. Referee Gary Lord was forced to brandish the game’s only yellow card to the Sphinx sub in stoppage time and shortly afterwards the final whistle blew.
Three defeats on the spin now for the Cooks, although 0-3 was a little harsh on us after a decent defensive display on the whole. The visitors were deserving winners today and we wish them well for the rest of the season (until we play them in Stoke obviously). Man-of-the-match today goes to keeper Craig Foxall who had no chance with any of the goals and made some good saves again.
Cogenhoe; 1 Craig Foxall 2. Jordan Orosz 3. Dan Mortimer 4. Archie Culley (sub 14. Tom Wakley 65)5. Jack Riley 6. Rico Alexander 7. Will Bates 8. Jamie Mastropierro © (sub 12. Faris Rhaman 79) 9. Dylan Wilson 10. Declan Rogers (sub 15. Kobi Bivens 79) 11. Paddy Cichosz.
Sphinx: 1. Tom Cross 2. Daniel Kavanagh 3. Danny Frazer 4. Jack Downes 5. Louis Guest 6. James Bryson 7. Lawrence Rawlings 8. Lewis Noon (sub 15. Josh Willis 69) 9. Harvey Smith (sub 14. Madundo Semahimbo 77) 10. Callum Woodward © 11. Ryan Harkin (sub 12. Callum Stewart 72). Subs not used; 16. Jamie Draper 17. Mo Billy.
Yellow card; Willis (90+1) foul.
Referee; Gary Lord
Assts; Jamie Stevenson & Gary Halliday.