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Ethan Lack’s debut goal sparked a late fight-back from the Cooks, but Newport Pagnell proved a little too strong for the Cooks on the day.

Saturday 18th March 2023





Lack 79


Lawless 40

Watkinson 55 (pen)

Ronayne (og) 76


Att; 95


Scott Carlin was forced into a few changes to his starting line-up with Paddy Cichosz serving his one match ban and Bailey Weatherly on the first of his four, Ben Gough called up by AFC Rushden & Diamonds to sit on the bench, Ash Bodycote away on a stag-do and Josh Adams working, so in came Ben Heath in goal, Kyle Ansell on the left of the back four, Alex Parkes in midfield where he joined new signing Ethan Lack, while Harry Waple-Moors and Jessi Obeng were recalled to the starting line-up with Pharrell Anderson dropping down to the bench. Tommy Curry, Kodi Briggs and Jamie Hall all returned on the bench where they joined Callum Farmer. Luca Purse took the captain’s armband and partnered Perry Ronayne at the back with Bruce Tsinosis continuing at right-back. The two missing players from the starting line-up are Louie Barrett who lined up in his usual wide role and Dalton Leon in the centre of the park. Swans gaffer Gary Flinn made even more changes from the starting line-up that progressed to the semi-finals of the F.A Vase last weekend, bringing in Adam Pryke, Luke Pennell, Lewis Wilson, Kieran Barnes, Dom Lawless and Nathan Tshikuna, with some serious experience in that group of players.


It was raining when I drove past Newport Pagnell’s Willen Road ground just a mile from where I live, but the time I had reached Compton Park the day had morphed into a mild and slightly muggy March afternoon, with the customary Compton Park wind once again noticeable only by its absence. The toss saw Cogenhoe attack the clubhouse end in the first half, but it was the visitors who had the first chance inside the opening seconds when Lawless won a free-kick just outside the box, but Waple-Moors jumped in the wall to head away Barnes’ effort. A long throw from James Sage wasn’t dealt with by the Cooks defence and Jake Watkinson headed it at goal from close range forcing Ben Heath to tip it over the bar, then Heath rose to turn Ben Shepherd’s ensuing corner over for one on the other side as Newport mounted some early pressure on the Cooks defence.

Martin Conway’s first touch in goal for the visitors came when Ansell’s free-kick from the right dropped into his arms inside his 6-yard box, but the Cooks first shot followed soon afterwards as Parkes won the ball and Leon hit a first-time effort from 25-yards, but it was wide of the target and failed to trouble Conway. An up-and-under clearance by Pennell bounced just outside the box and Purse lost it as he was forced to turn allowing Watkinson to get in behind him inside the box to the right, but he could only steer the ball across the face of goal and wide of the far post. Pryke was forced off and was unable to carry on so Christian Smail took his place with just 15 minutes of the game gone. Barnes mishit a shot that went straight to Watkinson who instinctively stuck out a boot, but he could only direct it wide of the far post, then a surging run by Barrett saw him make a good thirty yards before nicking it to his right to Obeng and he dinked the ball across towards Waple-Moors who had made a run inside the box on the left, but Barrett, who had continued his run, jumped to get his head to the ball and inadvertently took it away from its intended target and into the arms of Conway.

Heath came out to the left corner of his box to collect the ball after Barnes had hooked it forward, then Obeng robbed Sage wide on the right and cut inside before pulling the ball back across the box, but Alfie Powell cut it out and Newport cleared their lines safely. Leon swung the ball wide to Barrett on the left and he cut back inside before laying it off to Parkes on the edge of the box, but Tshikuna nicked the ball off his feet and he tried to make space for a shot. Parkes played a ball over the top for Waple-Moors to run on to and although he managed to try and lift the ball at goal from the edge of the box, he was under pressure from two defenders and couldn’t direct the ball anywhere near the goal. Purse cut out a through ball with his head and Tsinosis found Lack who made a lovely turn which allowed Parkes to play the ball up towards Obeng, but Conway came quickly off his line to reach the ball before the Cooks striker. Barnes hit a low shot from 25-yards out straight at Heath, then Purse made a great intercepting header as Watkinson ran in behind him on the edge of the box. Lawless missed the target with a header from Barnes’ cross, but Kevan Atkins’ flag was up for offside, then Tsinosis broke through the centre before being brought down from behind by Smail who picked Andrew Hitchcox’s first yellow card of the game on the half-hour mark. Smail loves a yellow against the Cooks, having picked up two in the game at Willen Road earlier in the season.

Tsinosis found himself in the left-back position and defended really well before winning a foul off Watkinson, then good strong defending by Ronayne denied Wilson on the right and the same Cooks player headed behind for a corner after a Wilson throw had been flicked into the centre of the Cooks box. Smail had a chance from a deep Barnes corner, but even though he was unchallenged as he jumped, he couldn’t get over his header enough to keep it under bar height. Was probably slightly behind where he would have preferred it too in truth. Leon blocked a low Tshikuna shot from the edge of the box at the expense of another corner that Shepherd delivered to the near post where Watkinson headed it on to find Dom Lawless at the far post and he directed the ball home for the opening goal, just five minutes before the break. Shepherd set Tshikuna up for a shot just outside the box on the right, but he blazed his first time effort well over the bar and moments later he had a similar chance following a Barnes corner, but the result was very similar.

A scrappy half of football with Newport just about edging the game, but it was a half of very little in the way of clear cut chances for either side, with veteran forward Lawless taking the one that came his way.


Half-time; Cooks 0 Swans 1


The Swans started the second half on the front foot, but the Cooks reacted well with Lack easing a ball over the top for Waple-Moors to chase, but it ran through to Conway who quickly kicked the ball down the field and Lawless managed a shot on goal that was blocked and before Coegnhoe could get it away, Watkinson turned and fired a shot over the bar from close range. Watkinson flicked the ball on to find Tshikuna beyond the far post and his first-time shot was well-blocked by Tsinosis and when the ball was played back in from the right, Purse attempted to get the ball, but only managed to bring down his man and referee Hitchcox had no need to think about it as he pointed to the spot. Newport netted two out of the three penalties (with two different scorers) that they had been awarded in the game at Willen Road and another new face stepped up to take this one, with Jake Watkinson calmly sending Heath the wrong way to double the visitors advantage with 55 minutes played.

Anderson replaced Leon before the restart in a straight swap, at least for the time being. A dangerous in-swinging corner from Ansell was only just the wrong side of the far post, while a nice touch from Watkinson just outside the box came to nothing thanks to a great challenge from Ronayne. Waple-Moors had been struggling after a couple of heavy challenges in quick succession and was replaced by Tommy Curry on 64 minutes and the Cooks almost pulled a goal back when a superb cross by Anderson on the right skimmed the face of the bar with Conway beaten, but although Lack got his body behind the ball as it dropped just beyond the far post, he couldn’t keep it the right side of the post. The Swans swapped their strikers with Lawless and Watkinson being handed a breather on 66 minutes with their places being taken by leading scorer Albie Hall and Mo Ahmed. Hall (Newport’s version) was quickly in the action but he had his pocket picked by Ronayne before he could get to the box, then a slip by Heath looked like it may have put Tshikuna in, but he too slipped and hit his shot at the keeper who saved it with his leg.

Curry sent over a cross from the left that Conway caught cleanly, while the unusually quiet Obeng made way for Jamie Hall with 15 minutes remaining. Purse headed out a Wilson cross and Shepherd went for goal from the loose ball, only to find the safe hands of Heath, but the Cooks keeper was picking the ball out of his net again on 76 minutes. Ronayne was chasing back onto a through ball and he played to lift it back to his keeper from well outside his own box, but Heath had come off his line and he lifted the ball over the head of his stranded keeper and into his own net. Very unfortunate for the Cooks centre-back and we now faced a mountain to climb against one the best teams in the league.

Ben Shepherd made way for the equally experienced Ben Ford before the restart, but it was the Cooks who went close to pulling one back when a great corner from Parkes was headed over from close range by Hall. The Cooks desperately needed something quickly now and they got just that on 79 minutes. Ronayne started the move deep inside his own half and Ansell played the ball up to Batrrett, he touched it off to Lack who fed Curry inside the box on the left and the sub sent over a great cross that his former Cobblers team mate Ethan Lack met with a powerful header 7-yards out that flew into the back of the net. Cogenhoe were clearly lifted by the goal and a great flick from Barrett found Curry running into the box, but his shot from 15-yards out went over the bar, then great work by Hall deep inside the box on the left saw him lift the ball over Conway’s head to find Curry beyond the far post, but it came to him at an awkward height and although he managed to strike it on target, he couldn’t get enough power behind it and a defender blocked it in front of his goal-line.

Curry broke through onside to race into the box on the left before rolling the ball across the keeper to pick out Hall, but he somehow put his shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy from close range. The final change of the game came on 85 minutes when Farmer replaced Parkes, but the Cooks continued to press and Anderson got the better of his man inside the box on the right needing to pull it across with three teammates running into the edge of the 6-yard box, but he went to ground in the vain hope of getting a penalty which was never on the cards despite the shouts from the home dug-out. Barrett hit a great low shot from outside the box on the left that forced Conway to dive to his right to save and the keeper then recovered to keep out Hall’s follow up from point blank range, but the Cooks striker had been flagged for offside from the original shot. Anderson went into the book after leaving his foot in on Sage as the left-back cleared the ball up the park just before the last action of the game saw Purse stretch to cut out a dangerous low cross from Barnes.

A disappointing result for the Cooks, but a decent performance from the team against a opponents hoping to return to Wembley in the F.A Vase and also looking to keep their promotion hopes alive as we head into the final few weeks of the season. We really pushed them towards the he end of the game and could easily have scored three of our own in that spell with Tommy Curry really livening things up after coming off the bench. Paul’s man-of-the-match today goes to Louie Barrett who worked hard throughout and caused plenty of problems for the Swans full-backs today.


We are straight back into action on Tuesday night when we host Easington Sports in a re-arranged fixture and with our guests just one point ahead of us on equal games, this is a game we should be looking at taking three points from.




Cooks; 1. Ben Heath 2. Bruce Tsinosis 14. Kyle Ansell (sub 3. Kodi Briggs 78) 4. Alex Parkes (sub 15. Callum Farmer 85) 5. Luca Purse © 6. Perry Ronayne 7. Louie Barrett 8. Ethan Lack 9. Harry Waple-Moors (sub 12. Tommy Curry 64) 10. Dalton Leon (sub 16. Pharrell Anderson 55) 11. Jessi Obeng (sub 20. Jamie Hall 75).

Yellow card; Anderson (90) Foul.

Newport; 1. Martin Conway 2. Adam Pryke (sub 4. Christain Smail 15) 3. James Sage © 6. Alfie Powell 7. Kieran Barnes 8. Ben Shephard (sub 11. Ben Ford 76) 9. Jake Watkinson (sub 10. Albie Hall 66) 18. Dom Lawless (sub 19. Mo Ahmed 66) 20. Nathan Tshikuna. Sub not used; 13. Dan Willett (GK).

Yellow card; Smail (30) Foul.


Referee; Andrew Hitchcox

Assts; Clinton Ormshaw & Kevan Atkins


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