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Steve Carroll bags a hat-trick with regular keeper Stuart Schofield netting twice as the Cooks vets team wrapped up the Division 3 title in style.

Sunday 30th April 2023





S. Carroll 2, 38, 55

O’ Brien 33

P. Carroll 71

Schofield 81 (pen), 84




The Veterans team travelled to Great Horwood just outside Milton Keynes on Sunday knowing that one point would leave then in an unassailable position at the summit. They had already wrapped it up in reality due to their massive goal difference, but the point would make them mathematically champions. The football ground is situated between Great Horwood and Nash and could be described as rural, leaving it exposed to the elements, so a stiff breeze took the heat out of the sun somewhat and it was to favour the Cooks for the first forty-five minutes this morning. As Finbarr pointed out in his match preview, the Cooks were a little light on player availability today, so the injured Craig Smith went in goal meaning an outfield outing for regular keeper Stuart Schofield.

The Cooks were looking determined to wrap this one up early on and brothers Paul and Steve Carroll combined with a one-two on the edge of the box that just failed to come off inside the first few seconds, then Steve Carroll played a ball over the top for Schofield to run on to and he clipped a first time shot that keeper Ian McStraw did really well to tip over the bar for a corner. The home side’s relief didn’t last long though as Lee Haines swung in the corner and Steve Carroll guided it home with his head to give the Cooks the lead with just two minutes on the clock. Schofield sent in a cross from the left that Steve Carroll met on the volley forcing McStraw to push the ball around the post for another corner and once again Haines delivery was spot on with Ricky Smith’s looping header dropping just under the bar to double the lead with only five minutes gone, but some unknown reason this goal was ruled out. Clean header with nobody near him and defenders on the line so not offside.

The Cooks passing game was causing lots of problems for Horwood, although the length of the grass did hamper this to a certain extent it must be said. I have seen a lot worse though. Schofield spurned a chance of getting his name on the scoresheet as he pulled his shot across the face of the goal, then Phil O’Brien saw a shot from the left of the box take a deflection and go the wrong side of the far post. A great effort from Steve Carroll from 25-yards had the keeper beaten but hit the bar and when the ball fell to O’Brien he took too long and although he did still get a shot in, the keeper had it covered and Paul Carroll’s effort was gathered by McStraw. Haines played a long ball into Steve Carroll inside the box and although his first touch was superb allowing him to steer the ball home, the flag was raised for offside and it didn’t count. Another Steve Carroll shot from just outside the box was easily dealt with by the keeper, then Great Horwood had their first chance when a great ball from Chris Medri into the box wasn’t controlled by his teammate and the ball ran through to Craig Smith.

Chris Dickens fed Schofield inside the box on the right with his cross being cut out, but the Cooks did extend their lead on 33 minutes. Haines cross was met by a good header from Steve Carroll forcing the keeper into another fine with Ricky Smith picking up the pieces and playing the ball low across the 6-yard box where Phil O’Brien met it with a clever flick to beat the keeper and the defender on the line. Trevor Bateman’s looping header went over the bar for the home side, while Paul Carroll’s run opened up some space for O’Brien who picked out Dickens on the edge of the box, but his well-struck shot was blocked. Steve Carroll was desperately close to netting again when he turned and curled a shot beyond the keeper’s reach, only for it to go an inch or so wide of the far post, but Carroll did get his second of the game on 38 minutes. His original attempt to shoot from the edge of the box didn’t quite come off for him, but he waited for the ball to come down and struck it firmly on the volley and gave the keeper no chance at all. Haines eyed up a free-kick about three yards outside the box just to the right of centre and he went over the wall with that trusty left peg, only to hit the underside of the bar. O’Brien and Steve Carroll both tried to put it on a plate for Schofield deep inside the box and his blushes were spared by an offside flag as he fired wildly over the top.


Half-time; Gt Horwood 0 Cooks 3


Sam Duggan brought both his subs on at the break, as did the home side. Sam replaced his brother Gary at the back, while Donovan Reed came on for Schofield at the other end of the pitch. The defence backed-off Steve Carroll on the edge of the box and allowed him to shoot with McStraw making another fine save as he touched the ball onto the bar and over for a corner. A defender got his head to it as it came across but it fell to Sam Duggan outside the box and he hit it high and wide with plenty of power, but not the accuracy to match it. O’Brien touched the ball on to Ricky Smith deep inside the box, but the keeper did really well to get down at his near post to stop his close-range shot from a tight angle. O’Brien headed wide from a deep Haines corner just before Bateman headed wide with a good chance for Horwood down the bottom end.

The Cooks grabbed their forth of the morning on 55 minutes as Steve Carroll completed his hat-trick with his 39th goal of the season (and the 6th time he has scored three or more in a game). Ricky Smith had held up play on the edge of the box and Paul Carroll slipped the ball through to his brother who placed his shot past the keeper from the 8-yards out just to the right. Reed robbed his man and broke into the box on the left, but hit his shot was too close to the keeper with the rebound falling to Paul Carroll on the edge of the box and after his shot was saved, Dickens fired over from 20-yards out. O’Brien got his head to a Sam Duggan corner with the ball looping into the keeper’s hands off a defender’s shoulder, then Cormac Hammill was forced off with an injury on the hour mark with Gary Duggan coming back onto the field.

Great Horwood now had a spell of attacking play with Bateman seeing a great effort tipped over by Craig Smith, but they were called back for a free-kick before he had shot, then the home side were awarded a very soft penalty, but Craig Smith saved the spot-kick taken by one of the half-time subs.  We were soon back down the changing room end as the Cooks extended their lead on 71 minutes as Ricky Smith found Steve Carroll who played it to Paul Carroll on the right angle of the 6-yard box and he poked the ball past the keeper into the far bottom corner. Paul took a kick as he did so, although he tried to hobble on.

O’Brien placed his far post header too close to the keeper, while Steve Carroll saw his effort from the edge of the box parried by McStraw. Paul Carroll was forced off with his injury with 15 minutes left to play, so Schofield returned to the action as the Cooks saw out the game. Horwood went through on the break but their player scooped his shot wide form the left, while Reed saw a header drop into the waiting gloves of the keeper. Schofield got his moment in the 81st minute when he broke into the box before being brought down for the game’s second penalty. Schofield was given the chance himself and he calmly rolled the ball just inside the keeper’s left-hand post for his first goal for the Cooks. Lee Haines lifted the ball to Sam Duggan on the left and he cut back onto his right foot before sending over a cross that Steve Carroll headed wide, but Cogenhoe made it seven on 84 minutes as regular keeper Stuart Schofield scored his second of the game with a great first time finish from the edge of the box. Steve Carroll and O’Brien taking the assist acclaim in the build-up. Bateman probably should have pulled one back late on when he side-footed a volley over the top from close-range, while Schofield had a sniff of a hat-trick himself when he met Reed’s cross with a first-time shot beyond the far post, then the final chance of the game fell to Reed inside the box on the left, but he hit his shot too well and it screamed over the bar. A mishit may well have seen him score this one.

Division Three Champions in their first season as a team and still unbeaten in the league with four more game scheduled to be played. There is a suggestion that the Leighton Lions game will be played as a double-header as the two are yet to meet, so keep an eye on Finbarr’s updates on the Cooks website for details of our last few games of the season.

Report by Paul.


Photo Gallery courtesy of Finbarr Carroll.


Cooks; 1. Craig Smith 2. Lee Haines © 3. Chris Dickens 4. Paul Carroll 5. Cormac Hamill 7. Ricky Smith 10. Stuart Schofield 11. Phil O’Brien 12. Gary Duggan 14. Dan Hanger 15. Steve Carroll. Subs both used; 8. Sam Duggan 9. Donovan Reed.

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