Biff’s boys bounced back with an excellent point at promotion chasing Daventry Town with debutant Bradley Ilunga heading a late equaliser.
Saturday 18th November 2023
UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
DAVENTRY TOWN (0) 3 COGENHOE UNITED (2) 3
Shariff 46 (pen), 78
The Cooks made the trip to fellow county side Daventry Town on a dry, mild Autumn afternoon to face a Town side hovering one place below the play-offs and having hammered us 5-1 previously this season in the first encounter. Scott Carlin made five changes from the heavy defeat in Warwick last weekend with powerful centre back Bradley Ilunga being handed his Cooks debut, while Earl Atat, Ben Dimond (in midfield), Kieron Mobbs and Jack Connor were all recalled to the starting line-up. Dalton Leon dropped down to the bench alongside the returning Charlie Pearson, while Dylan Wilson was stuck at work but named amongst the subs in the hope that he could make at least some of the game. Callum Swain, Alex Parkes, Sharma Bako and Troy Johnston were all absentees today after starting last week. Daventry gaffer Daren Young gave starts to keeper Kacper Kurylowicz, former Cooks loanee Joe Curtis and Tarik Dallas as he shuffled his pack after last Saturday’s defeat at Yaxley. Another former Cook in Ashraf Masumbuko was named on the bench, but there was no place in the sixteen for recent signing Damien Osoimoejiokhian. (I recently achieved my pre-season ambition of spelling his name without having to look it up, so I’m not going to waste what will probably be my last opportunity to do so this season). Young was able to name what must be the best strike partnership in the league though as Leon Lobjoit and Nabil Shariff once again pointed to a tough afternoon for the Cooks defence.
Shariff had the first attempt at goal but was off target with his 35-yard effort in the opening minutes of the match, while Bailey Weatherly responded with a decent effort from a few yards outside the box to the left with his curling shot going a foot over at the far post. Connor Furlong fired over from 20-yards from a central position, then the same player found himself with space inside the box on the right after a mistake from the Cooks, but he fired his shot just wide of the far post. A good move from the home side saw Lobjoit find Furlong on the right with a nice touch and Lobjoit was on the end of the incoming low cross with a touch that set up Shariff in the centre but hit his shot wide of the target from 10-yards out. Weatherly did well down the right and sent over a low cross that Mobbs stretched to reach with his boot, but could only direct the ball the wrong side of the far post, but the Cooks had the lead on 14 minutes with a super goal from Bailey Weatherly. Receiving the ball 25-yards out, he took a touch before hitting a beauty of a shot that sailed over the reach of the keeper and it clipped the underside of the bar on the way before hitting the back of the net. This was Weatherly’s third of the season and they have all been great finishes.
Daventry hit back straight away, but found John Meadows in fine form as the keeper dived to his right to keep out Lobjoit’s header from an Alvin Magagada cross with a great save, then the Cooks broke with Ben Gough carrying the ball out from the back and very nearly sending Weatherly clear had Dallas not used all of his height to just get his head to the ball. Guessing the centre-back must be at least six-four if not taller. A nice cross from Magagada was headed out by Ilunga, but when it was returned into the box by John Dean, Lobjoit met it with his head 6-yards out forcing Meadows to turn the ball over the bar for a corner with a fine reflex save. A great touch from Lobjoit sent his strike partner Shariiff running into the box where he sliced his shot wide with Mallard and Ilunga closing him down, then Shariff found Furlong inside the box on the right and he cut inside before firing a low left-foot shot that would have gone just inside the near post had Meadows not dived across to make an excellent one-handed save and from the following corner, Shariff could only poke wide under pressure from inside the 6-yard box.
A great pass from Gough sent Mobbs down the left and he played in a low cross that Connor got to in the centre, but he could only steer the ball the wrong side of the upright from 7-yards out under pressure. Meadows got up amid the crowd to push away a corner and when Dallas dinked it back in, he caught it cleanly. Lobjoit turned well just outside the box but sliced his shot on the turn wide of the keeper’s right-hand post, then Furlong’s shot was deflected wide for a corner by Gough with Pradeep Singh Bahrey’s delivery to beyond the far post being headed wide by Dallas. Gough picked out former Daventry player Sonny Knights feet inside the box and his shot on the turn was blocked and cleared by Oran Jackson, but the next attack saw the Cooks double their lead on 39 minutes. A long throw from Gough down the left was won in the air by Knights with Luke Bullement pouncing to steer the ball past Kurylowicz from close range for his first goal in Cooks colours. Gough became the first recipient of Chris Walton’s yellow card after catching his man a little late a minute after the goal with Lobjoit whipping in the free-kick and Jackson heading over at the far post. Lobjoit had the final shot of the half after creating space with a neat turn just inside the box, but although his shot was clean, it was too close to Meadows to trouble the Cooks number one.
We were 3-0 down at this point of the game last week, so going to big-spending Daventry and leading 2-0 at the break was a great achievement from the boys in a very entertaining first 45 minutes, but there was still a long way to go.
Half-time; Daventry 0 Cooks 2
No changes at the break and with their first real attack of the second half, the home side were awarded a penalty. Shariff tried to get past Gough inside the box and ball bounced up and hit the Cooks defender on his elbow with the referee adjudging it to be a hand-ball offence and pointed to the spot. Shariff stepped up and reduced the arrears in the 47th minute and this was very much game on once again, if it wasn’t already that is. Shariff took a touch inside the box looking to shoot, but Gough did well to nick the ball away from him, only to find Lobjoit on the edge of the box with his first-time volley going well over the crossbar. The relief was short lived though as the Town drew themselves level on 52 minutes with a super-strike from Furlong. A corner had been headed out, but the Daventry man met it first time with an absolute thunderbolt from the edge of the box that gave Meadows no hope as it crashed into the roof of the net. This would now be a real test of Cogenhoe’s mettle having lost a two-goal lead and the home side very much fired up to go on and take all three points in front on an impressive crowd of over 200.
Weatherly was booked for a foul on Max Proudlock in the 54th minute and this was to be his last action as Dalton Leon took his place in midfield. Furlong sent over a cross from the right-side of the box that Lobjoit met with a looping header that Meadows caught just before Town’s first change as Kye Little took over from Curtis on the hour. Good battling by Mobbs saw him dispossess Magagada down the left and Gough sent in a dangerous cross that nobody attacked, then Lobjoit was just too high with an effort after a corner had been flicked on down the bottom end. Takula Chijota came on for Bahrey on 67 minutes, but it was the Cooks who were next to show as Bullement won the ball on the halfway line and Atat played it up the edge of the box where a defender got the first touch and Leon’s first-time effort from 20-yards rolled harmlessly wide. Meadows got to a through ball just before Lobjoit with the striker catching the keeper. It was definitely a free-kick, but I personally didn’t feel there was any intent with both players trying to get the ball and the referee was correct with just having a word with the Town man.
Connor came off for the fresh legs of Dennis Nkrumah with fifteen minutes remaining and Meadows was back in action with a good save from a close-range volley. They couldn’t deal with the ensuing corner though despite some brave defending and when the ball eventually fell to Shariif inside the 6-yard box, he was able to turn it over the line and put Daventry ahead for the first time in the game on 78 minutes. Biff made two more changes as Pearson and Jai Hollely took over from Bullement and Knights for the final ten minutes of the game. Gough sent a good ball towards the far post that was just ahead of Hollely’s run while Magagada was cautioned for a foul four minutes from time. Gough played the free-kick into the box and Mallard rose to meet it with his head at the far post, finding Ilunga on the opposite side of the 6-yard box and he planted his header across the keeper and just inside the far post to round off a solid debut with a goal. Another fine save from Meadows denied Lobjoit again as he dived to his right to get his hand to a powerful shot and he also recovered to deny Shariif with the follow up, but the flag had already gone up for offside. Nkrumah, playing against one of his former clubs, showed good speed and determination to get to the ball before the keeper on the right and he cut back inside, but his shot was just the wrong side of the far post and that proved to be the end of the action in a very entertaining game of football.
This was probably the best game I have watched this season and on reflection neither team deserved to lose so 3-3 is fair outcome this afternoon. Always a little disappointing not to win after leading 2-0, but Daventry are a very good side going forward and I would have been happy with a point before the game started. The boys showed great character to come back and take a point after going 3-2 down, especially when you look at how things have been going for us lately and it would have easy to just lick our wounds and try to make sure we didn’t let any more goals in. John Meadows gets my man-of-the-match today after making some great saves and he is looking like being a very good replacement for North between the sticks. The midfield was vastly improved on the performance at Warwick last week to where we never really got into the pace of the game, but today we closed, held the ball up and made it hard for the home team to create through the middle. Daventry gave their man-of-the-match to Connor Furlong and he was a constant problem for the Cooks, but we managed to keep Leon Lobjoit off the scoresheet, something that not too many teams have done over the last few seasons. I was impressed too with the back three of Harley Mallard, Ben Gough and former Godmanchester man Bradley Ilunga and despite conceding three, this partnership showed lots of promise as they played together for the first time, with the new boy showing a real physical presence in both boxes capped off by the late equaliser. The whole team was much-improved though with good performances all round with Bailey Weatherly netting a beauty and Luke Bullement grabbing his first goal for the club to top off a good performance. We had missed Kieron Mobbs last week and he picked up where he had left off while Ben Dimond added a little bite in an unfamiliar midfield role with Sonny Knights as busy as ever out there too and Earl Atat was solid. Finally, a mention for Jack Connor who got a few vital touches and worked hard to try and make things happen even though he was isolated a little up front at times as we defended, I feel we have a real player in the making here who just needs a few goals under his belt to really come into his own in the senior game. The subs all came on and played their part too, which isn’t always easy to do in a game like this, with Dennis Nkrumah the pick pf the bunch today and I feel he is going to play a big part for the club once he has settled in.
Well done today to Biff and all the boys and good luck to Daventry for the rest of the season, lovely people behind the scenes there who make the afternoon even more enjoyable. Next up we have a home game against bottom of the table Leicester Nirvana and performances like this won’t mean a thing if we don’t push and beat the teams below us in the table.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Town; 1. Kacper Kurylowicz 17. Alvin Magagada 12. Pradeep Singh Bahrey (sub 2. Takula Chijota 67) 18. Joe Curtis (sub 3. Kye Little 60) 5. Oran Jackson 6. Tarik Dallas 7. John Dean 8. Max Proudlock 9. Nabil Shariff 10. Leon Lobjoit © 11. Connor Furlong. Subs not used; 14, Ashraf Masumbuko 15. Melvin Onu 16. Robbie Goodman
Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Kieron Mobbs 4. Ben Dimond 5. Ben Gough 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Kieron Mobbs 8. Sonny Knights (sub 16. Charlie Pearson 80) 9. Jack Connor (sub 15. Dennis Nkrumah 75) 10. Bailey Weatherly (sub 14. Dalton Leon 54) 11. Luke Bullement (sub 12. Jai Newell-Hollely 80). Sub not used 17. Dylan Wilson.
Referee; Chris Walton
Assts; Russell Tunney & Kenny Wells
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