Wakley double takes his tally to eleven for the season as he adds to goals from Alexander and Elmore on a fantastic afternoon for the Cooks.
Saturday 29th January 2022
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
HINCKLEY LRFC (1) 2 COGENHOE UNITED (3) 4
Wakley 44, 83
The Cooks made their first ever visit to the Leicester Road Stadium for what promised to be one the toughest games they will play this season, given that the home side where still inbeaten in the league and sat nine points clear at the top of the table. We were feeling the edges of Storm Malik which blew strongly down the pitch from the astroturf/changing rooms end towards Leicester Road and despite the sun, the wind still made it feel rather chilly. I had mentioned in my preview that I have visited this superb football ground many times when Hinckley United were flying and playing their midweek games on a Monday night and it hasn’t changed too much I guess. The changing rooms are no longer under the stand though and once noisy terraces are almost silent as they form a spooky reminder of glory times past, but I could almost hear the echo behind of the goal of the cheer when one of Andy Hall’s long distance specials hit the back of the net and the calls of H.I.N.C.K.L.E.Y ‘inkerlee, inkerlee’ from the covered terrace than runs almost fully down the far side. There are other changes of course, the turnstiles are no longer used, the club’s programme shop is but a distant memory and the shutters are permanently down on the old tea bar where I bought many a jumbo hot-dog with chips on a cold Monday night, but the ground is still a superb facility that deserves to see the return of a high level of football to watch in this decent sized town.
Onto the game and Darren Long was forced into one change and opted to make another as Dylan Wilson has now moved on to try his luck in the Northern Premier League with Daventry Town with Chief Boateng taking his shirt, whilst Will Bates returned from injury to make his first start for a while, with Jack Riley stepping down to the bench.
The first and also a vital piece of captaincy saw Rico Alexander win the toss and allow the Cooks to kick with the strong wind at the backs for the first half and we were soon putting the home side under pressure. Paddy Cichosz delivered a great free-kick from the right that Hinckley allowed to bounce inside the box and Alexander ghosted in behind them to stretch out and steer the ball past the keeper with his head and the Cooks were in front with only two minutes played. Hinckley had still to muster a decent attack in the game when the Cooks had the audacity to double their lead with six minutes gone. The tenacious Will Bates put pressure on Nathan Astill deep inside the box and robbed the ball and although keeper Will Highland saved his shot, Archie Elmore coolly slotted home the loose ball from 7-yards out. We talked before the game of how we play so much better against the teams near the top and of being the first team to defeat the Hinckley club, but now six minutes in we were really starting to believe it.
Cichosz sent in free-kick from both very wide and a long way from goal and he got plenty of power behind it as it flew on the wind and curled just wide of the far post, although I feel Highland would have had it covered had it been on target. Bates went for goal after winning the ball 25-yards out but put his effort wide, but the home side were starting to wake up and Dom Brennan fed leading scorer Matt Langham inside the box and he went for power, but Alexander threw his body in the way to block the shot. Craig Foxall launched the ball down the field for Tom Wakley to chase and the keeper came out of his area to win a brave header, but at the same time took out his own central defender. The referee awarded a free kick to Leicester Road and much to our surprise showed a yellow card to the Cooks player. He must have seen something we didn’t though as the contact was clearly the keeper on his own man.
With 17 minutes played, Hinckley pulled a goal back after we had given away a free-kick just outside the box to the right of central with an unnecessary lunge. Skipper Callum Earls lined it up and struck it beautifully giving Foxall little-to-no chance of keeping it out. Boateng was fouled in a central position around 25-yards for goal and Elmore took charge as he sent a decent effort just wide of the post, although again Highland seemed to be confident that he had it covered. Boateng tried to lift the ball over the defence into Elmore’s run but it was a little too hard, then Bates dinked a ball into the box only for Elmore to play it in an offside position with the onside Boateng just behind him. Will Bates ‘won’ a free-kick wide on the right that Adams played in left footed, but it was a little too deep and despite Cichosz launching himself at it beyond the far post, it carried on behind untouched for a goal-kick.
Liam Read forced a corner with a low shot that Foxall got down well to save at his near post and from the delivery Adams was well positioned to clear the ball off the line as Hinckley thought they were about to equalise. Bates forced a save out of highland with his well-struck 20-yard effort and although the keeper could only parry it, Ben Humphreys successfully cleared the ball up field. Highland dropped an Adams cross under pressure from Boateng and the Cooks player battled to try and get the ball free to shoot, but it wouldn’t sit for him and eventually LRFC were able to get the ball away from him. A great move saw Smith play a one-two with Langham inside the Cooks box, but Foxall was alert to the danger a made a good save from Smith’s close-range shot. Wakley made a run through the centre and went for goal from outside the box when perhaps a ball to the unmarked Boateng to his right would have been a better option as his effort deflected wide for a corner. Adams sent over a decent looking delivery that Jordan Burrows headed behind to give him another go, but this one lacked the height required and Burrows volleyed it away.
With just a minute to go before the break, the Cooks netted a crucial third goal as Wakley added his name to the scoresheet. Great work from Bates down the right saw him skin his man before sending over a good cross that Elmore seemed to lose in flight and defender Joe Lyne got his head to it, but it fell to Wakley in the centre of the box and he hit it low first-time past Highland and we were celebrating yet again. I have missed the two games against Newport, but this was the best half I have seen Cogenhoe put in this season as we used the wind well and to stun the leaders with three goals was probably more than we would have achieved in our wildest dreams. Of course we would be playing into the elements for the final forty-five minutes, but at least we do so with a two-goal advantage.
Half-time; LRFC 1 Cooks 3
Just as we had expected, Hinckley came out on the attack and Earls had a couple of early efforts from outside the box, the first coming following a strong run with the resulting shot being dragged wide of the near post, then he only managed to hit the roof of the stand behind the goal from 25-yards out. Out on the opposite flank, Acton hit a better effort from outside the box that Foxall saved, but the hosts did pull one back on 54 minutes, although they had the rub of the green from referee Mez Karia along the way. The Cooks had already had a decent shout for a free-kick waved away in the move that then saw Cichosz flattened for what was surely a foul just outside the box, but again no whistle and Smith broke into the box before putting the ball past Foxall and reducing the deficit to just a single goal.
Boateng won the ball and Jack Norman played it over the top for Wakley to chase, but Highland was off his line quickly and was able to dive on the ball just after it had crossed the line into his 18-yard domain. Alexander defended well out on the left to stop Burrows delivering a cross, then the Cooks skipper did even better as Smith tried to latch on to a flick on inside the box on the opposite side. Archer was caught in possession inside his own half which allowed the hosts to break quickly, but Foxall came out to dive on the ball at the striker’s feet. Earls had another chance of potting a free-kick, but this time it was a little further out and to the right and he hit the wall with his first effort and then won a corner on the volley as it came back to him and Archer blocked.
The first change of the game saw Boateng come off with 75 minutes played as Archie Culley took his place on in midfield. A high cross from the right from Acton saw Foxall get a touch under pressure in the middle and Archer volley the ball clear behind him, but we were soon down the other end of the pitch in what has to said a rare attack from the Cooks in recent times. Culley played a great ball through for Wakley to run onto in the box and he forced his tired legs to do just that before placing his shot wide of the keeper and just inside the far post. Second of the day for Wakley and I doubt he will have scored a more vital one. 83 minutes played and for the third time in the game we held a two-goal cushion.
Bates had been down a couple of times and had to subbed off before the restart with Jack Riley taking his place as Long made some minor adjustments at the back to compensate the change. A good effort from Brennan just outside the left corner of the box curled just over at the far post, then Astill hit a shot from outside the box that bobbled untouched a couple of feet wide of the far post with the referee awarding a corner-kick. The corner didn’t come to anything, but soon after Foxall made a great save from a shot hit from the right side of the box and then recovered quickly to save a follow up in the centre (sorry, not sure who either of the Hinckley players denied by Foxall were this time). A very late change for LRFC saw Lewis Jones and Simon Alcott enter the field with Humphreys and Burrows going the other way. Acton fired wide from a long way out and then Foxall saved after Lyne had got a shot on target after turning nicely on the edge of the box. The last note I made was Alex Vaughan replacing two goal hero Wakley five minutes into stoppage time and immediately making a good run down the left flank. I didn’t produce anything but that didn’t matter as Mr Karia blew the final whistle on a fantastic day to be a Cooks supporter.
After an amazing 23 games dropping just a single point, Hinckley LRFC’s superb run had been ended by Cogenhoe United. Before the game Daz had said he wanted 11 (or 14) man-of-the-matches today and that is exactly what he got. You could not fault the determination and effort put in by anybody in a grey (or purple of course) kit today as we ran out deserving winners against what it has to said is a very, very good team. It is also the first time we have scored four goals in a league game since we beat Biggleswade United at home, ironically our next opponents, but to do that on the road against the leaders makes it even better. Paul’s man-of-the-match today goes to two-goal hero Tom Wakley with a special mention going to Paddy’s headband on its debut today.
Everybody I spoke to today from LRFC were really nice people offering a friendly welcome to their club, so I wish them well for the rest of the season, although we may just have swung the title into Harborough’s favour as the Bees are six points behind with a better goal-difference. It could well be one massive game on 26th March when the two teams meet it at the Beehive.
As a side-note, good luck to our leading scorer Dylan Wilson on his step up with Northern Premier League strugglers Daventry Town. He came off the bench with 12 minutes left today and scored with a far post header in the last minute, but couldn’t stop them losing 3-1 at Cambridge City.
LRFC; 1. Will Highland 2. Jarred Acton 3. Callum Earls © 4. Ben Humphreys (sub 15. Lewis Jones 88) 5. Joe Lyne 6. Nathan Astill 7. Liam Read 8. Jordan Burrows (sub 16. Simon Alcott 88) 9. Matt Langham 10. Dom Brennan 11. Tom Smith. Subs not used; 12. Jack Harrison 14. Jake Brown 17. Sam Munton.
Cooks; 1. Craig Foxall 2. Will Bates (sub 14. Jack Riley 83) 3. Josh Adams 4. Dan Mortimer 5. Paddy Cichosz 6. Rico Alexander © 7. Ryan Archer 8. Jack Norman 9. Tom Wakley (sub 15. Alex Vaughan 90+5) 10. Chief Boateng (sub 12. Archie Culley 75) 11. Archie Elmore.
Yellow card; Wakley (15) ?
Referee; Mehul Karia
Assts; Stephen Tiernan & Ray Sharman.
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-RESERVE DIVISION
BOURNE TOWN Reserves 2 COGENHOE UNITED 1
Details to follow;
2- Sam Mensah
5- James McGrath
6-Jake Walpole ©