Five more goals for Steve Carroll as the Cooks cross the 100 goal mark in a 10-0 win at Open University.
Sunday 21st May 2023
MILTON KEYNES VETERANS LEAGUE – DIVISION THREE
OPEN UNIVERSITY VETS (0) 0 COGENHOE UNITED VETS (4) 10
- Carroll 7, 12, 15, 67, 84
- Smith 63
O’ Brien 71, 86
The Cooks made the trip to Milton Keynes for their final game of their debut season to play Open University Vets on what has to be the best pitch they have played on this season, perfectly suited to the Cooks passing game on a beautiful late spring morning. Finbarr had made everyone aware that they needed eight more goals to take the league tally to 100 and with what looked like being a bare eleven players on Friday, the late additions of Lewis Hill, Chris Dickens and Rob Curry meant we even had the luxury of three substitutes on the day.
OU had the first shot of the game inside the first minute, but they failed to test Stuart Schofield in the Cooks goal and play soon switched to the other end as Steve Carroll set up Craig Smith to his right inside the box and he hit a crisp first-time shot that was inches over the bar. The first goal of the game came on 7 minutes with leading scorer Steve Carroll the man on the mark, picking up the ball around the corner of the box to the right and hitting a low shot that beat the keeper at his near post. Cogenhoe were boosted by the goal and were now quite dominant as they pushed for a second and Craig Smith almost found it following a corner as his close-range shot was saved by Lewis Wright and when Ollie Reynolds steered the rebound back on target it was blocked on the line by a defender. Good defending from the home side who were clearly in no mood to roll over against the champions.
The Cooks did double their lead on 12 minutes when good play from Hill and Reynolds saw Carroll picked out inside the box and he literally ‘passed’ the ball past the keeper and into the net from 8-yards out. Cormac Hamill and Carroll combined to set up Craig Smith inside the box, but he took too many touches and was crowded out by a mass of navy shirts, failing to get his shot away as a consequence. Reynolds forced a point-blank save from Lewis, but the Cooks man did well to get to the rebound and fire in a shot that hit the underside of the bar before bouncing back into play, but Steve Carroll followed up to complete his hat-trick with just 15 minutes played. The seventh time this season he has scored three of more goals in a game. Ricky Smith played a great ball into the box for Carroll, but this time Wright made a fine save to deny him his fourth goal, then Carroll looked to have scored again with a low shot from the edge of the box, but the tall keeper got down really well to make a fantastic save.
Great play from Ricky Smith to get across the box and pull the ball back to Lewis Hill in the centre, but he was a little to casual in truth and his effort was blocked. Carroll should have had a fourth after a strong break by Craig Smith that saw him square to an unmarked Carroll inside the box, but he scuffed his shot wide of the target, then Reynolds had a shot blocked as OU defended their penalty area with some Alamo spirit. Craig Smith’s diagonal run gave Carroll the chance to lay the ball into the path of Dickens to his right, but he blazed his shot high and wide, but the fourth goal finally came on 38 minutes from another lovely move. Reynolds sent Dickens down the right on the overlap and he sent over a great low cross that Lewis Hill tapped home first-time from close-range for his eight of the season. Ricky Smith dinked a lovely ball to the far post to pick out Dickens’ run, but he could only steer the ball into the side-netting, before the final shot of the half came from Hill whose thunderbolt on the turn was blocked at close range by a defender who took it in the chest without even appearing to flinch at all.
Good half from the Cooks who were enjoying the carpet of a pitch in the sunshine. The lead could have been double the four we had managed so far and OU keeper Lewis Wright must take a lot of credit for that.
Half-time; OU 0 Cooks 4
Sam Duggan made three changes at the break as he brought himself on alongside Phil O’Brien and Rob Curry, with the impressive Craig Smith, Hill and Dickens the men to make way. The changes saw the Cooks stutter for a while and OU had a bit more of the play, but a great chance came and went when Dan Hanger sent over a dangerous cross from the left that a defender completely missed leaving O’Brien unmarked behind him at the far post, but he pulled his shot right across the face of the goal. Ricky Smith tuned well on the edge of the box only to catch the ground with his boot as he shot resulting in the ball bobbling wide, just before a good low ball in from Carroll saw Sam Duggan just fail to get a vital touch in front of the keeper who gathered the ball up.
A nice ball from Carroll saw O’Brien beat his marker and touch the ball past the keeper which took him a little wide and when he crossed the ball into the centre, Wright had recovered and managed to stretch and get his hand to the ball, Wright was at it again a few seconds later as he got his hand to the ball to deny Curry and when Carroll rolled the ball past the keeper as he recovered, his shot was stopped on the line by a defender and cleared away. Reynolds was fouled to the right of centre and with Lee Haines injured, Sam Duggan took it and played a great ball to the far post where Ricky Smith met it with a powerful header that had too much on for the keeper to stop it hitting the back of the net, making it five with 63 minutes played. Carroll picked out O’Brien on the right and he sent over a good cross to the back stick, but Hamill got his header all wrong and he remained goalless for the season.
Goal number six arrived on 67 minutes as Hamill picked out Hanger on the left and he played it into the feet of Carroll just outside the box and ace-marksman coolly picked his spot just inside the base of the far post for his fourth of the game. More changes were made before the restart as Hamill and Reynolds went off with Craig Smith and Dickens returning to the field, while Schofield’s half-time wish to come on pitch was granted with Ricky Smith taking over the gloves. Great play from Carroll inside the box saw him weave past two defenders only to be foiled once again by Wright in the home goal, but we did make it 0-7 in the 71st minute. Schofield played the ball to Carroll and he sent it low across the box to O’Brien who took a touch before firing home. O’Brien had a chance to add another deep inside the box, but the keeper blocked his shot and then the unfortunate Cooks player got in the way of Sam Duggan’s follow up to deflect the ball out for a goal-kick.
Schofield, usually down the other end protecting his net, had the honour of scoring the Cooks 100th league goal of the season on 76 minutes with a lovely finish. Gary Duggan had played a high ball over the defence from the half-way line and the regular keeper lifted it over his opposite number’s head with the ball dropping just inside the far post. The pressure of reaching the landmark figure was now gone and the Cooks could just enjoy the final minutes of their season, especially after injuries had reduced the home side to ten men by now. O’Brien headed over from Dickens’ left wing cross, then Schofield placed his header wide of the far post after Curry had sent over a good cross from the right. Wright caught a Dickens effort from the edge of the box above his head before Hill returned to the field in place of Mark Dent for the final few minutes. I have to say that Dent was colossal at centre-half today and has been a real loss to the Cooks team in recent weeks, so it was great to see him back on the field today. Hill was quickly in the action and forced a low save out of the keeper, but on 84 minutes the Cooks netted their ninth of the day as Steve Carroll grabbed his fifth with his 44th goal of the season. O’Brien and Craig Smith were the creators this time, with a typical low finish just inside the post from the leading scorer finishing things off. Two minutes later the Cooks went into double figures for the first time away from Compton Park when O’Brien robbed a defender just outside the box and raced forward before smashing home from 12-yards. The home side, who had battled hard and played the game in great spirit throughout, thought they had pulled one back right at the death, but the flag was up for offside and it didn’t count. I had pointed out to Fin that the no. 23 had been standing in an offside position calling for the ball long before it was played to him so a correct decision, but I kind of wanted them to get something for their efforts today.
That was it and the Cooks had not only won the championship, but they had scored 102 league goals along the way. This was also from 18 matches in reality, (5.67 ave) as 6 of the 24 this season had been awarded to the Cooks when their scheduled opponents failed to raise a team to face them. Well done to Sam and his team for an amazing first season and lets us hope they stay together to take on the challenge of Division Two next season.
Cooks; 1. Stuart Schofield 2. Cormac Hamill 4. Mark Dent 5. Steve Carroll 7. Ricky Smith 9. Craig Smith 10. Lewis Hill 12. Gary Duggan 14. Dan Hanger © 16. Chris Dickens 17. Ollie Reynolds. Subs all used; 8. Sam Duggan 11. Phil O’Brien 15. Rob Curry.
Referee; Paul Bannerman.
Thanks to Finbarr for all the photos and multiple reports he has done on the Vets games this season. I have only really done the ones in the MK area since Fin came on board as I live there and can’t be bothered to get out of bed early on a Sunday these days.