Clinton Zawe thundered home the only goal of the game to secure the three points for Terry Shrieves’ Milton Keynes Irish.
Saturday 15th April 2023
UHLSPORT UNITED COUTIES LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (0) 0 MILTON KEYNES IRISH (0) 1
With Tuesday night’s cup final in mind, Scott Carlin made a number of changes from the side that drew at Wellingborough on Monday afternoon with a number of players being rested or given a break from the starting line-up. In came Alex Parkes, Kodi Briggs, Harley Mallard, Harry Waple-Moors, Bailey Weatherly and Tommy Curry. Jamie Hall, Jessi Obeng, Paddy Cichosz and Pharrell Anderson all dropped down to the bench while Luca Purse (given a chance to recover from a knock and his recent toe operation) and Bruce Tsinosis (suspended) both missed out altogether. This had all the makings of a tough afternoon for the Cooks given the amount of changes to the team and the fact that that were playing a team in very good form who currently sit fifth in the table going into the game.
The game struggled to get going on a lovely sunny afternoon as Irish won a corner down the right that came to nothing, then Ethan Lack did well before sending Weatherly down the right and he whipped over a cross that bounced before keeper Owusu Kyeremateng claimed it with Waple-Moors looking to pounce in the centre. The first shot of the game came down the village end when Callum Hirst sliced his effort from just outside the box to send it wide of the target, then Hirst made a good run down the right before playing the ball into the feet Ryan Smith, only for Mallard to come across and block his shot as he hit it. Louie Barrett played a one-two with Waple-Moors before racing down the right flank and sent over a low cross that Weatherly just managed to get too on front of his marker, but he could only direct the ball wide of the near post. A strong diagonal run from left to right by Bailey saw him break into the box, but he was closed down and had to check back before lifting the ball over the centre-backs looking to pick out Waple-Moors run, but Kyeremateng read the situation well and quickly came off his line to make the ball his.
Curry sent over a great cross from the left that Liam Smyth did really well to get a touch to with his head as Waple-Moors homed in on the ball, then the first shot on target came from George Shrieves, but his curling effort from the edge of the box was easily gathered at chest height by Ash Bodycote. The lively Andre Olukanmi cut inside Barrett on the left to get into the box before crashing to the ground. He grabbed the ball whilst on the deck as the Irish rose as one appealing for a penalty, but instead referee Ail Cera gave hand-ball against their winger. Ronayne threw his body on the line to block a shot from Shrieves then as the ball rebounded across the box, Barrett stretched himself to block Olukanmi’s follow up. Barrett was injured in this incident and a reshuffle was needed as Cichosz came on for the injured Cooks player. Paddy took the armband from Perry Ronayne who had been the Cooks skipper for just eighteen minutes, while Parkes moved into the right back slot vacated by Barrett.
When the corner was eventually taken, Shrieves played it in to the near post where Ty Ward met it with his head, but he didn’t get round it enough and sent the ball flying well wide of the goal. Curry sent in a dangerous low cross from the left that took a deflection off a defender’s foot and rolled just the wrong side of the far post with the MK defence only able to watch it and hope, then back down the other end as Ronayne defended well in the centre of his own box as Shrieves delivered a low ball into the danger area looking for Ryan Smith. Shrieves was on target with a grass-cutter from just outside the box that Bodycote had little trouble in stopping, then Olukanmi played a great low ball across the face of the goal from the left that Briggs cleared at the back post. Weatherly picked up a yellow card for a foul on Nat Beecher, not his first indiscretion of the game either. Shrieves made a great run into the box from the right and placed a low shot beyond the reach of Bodycote, but his there was no ‘luck of the Irish’ playing in his favour today as the ball hit the inside of the post and came back into play. Ryan Smith saw his shot hit Mallard and although Olukanmi was first to the loose ball he couldn’t make space for a shot and when it broke to Shrieves on the edge of the box, he fired his first-time shot wide of the target. Weatherly received what would probably be his last warning following a silly ankle-tap as his frustration got the better of him after losing out to a challenge deep inside the Irish half and that was the last of the action in a fairly low key first half.
The M.K side will probably feel they should have taken a lead into the break and they were very unlucky with the shot that hit the inside of the post, but the Cooks defence had frustrated then for most of their attacking play. The Cooks hadn’t mustered a single shot on target in that first 45 minutes though which tells you a lot of the story so far.
Half-time; Cooks 0 Irish 0
Both sides made a change at the break with the impressive Shrieves making way for Finn Rolfe for the visitors, while Biff wasn’t going to risk Weatherly picking up a second yellow card and replaced him with Hall. Lack won an early corner that he took himself and although it was won in the air by a defender, Dalton Leon met it with a 25-yarder that was blocked on the edge of the box. Hall did really well to keep the ball in and hook it back towards Waple-Moors, but strong defending from Beecher meant the young Cooks striker couldn’t make anything from the situation. Hall almost played Curry through, but a great interception by Shaheim Ward erased the danger, then a good turn allowed Curry to show his pace, but Clinton Zawe managed to get back at the expense of a corner.
Hirst robbed his man just inside the Cooks half and played a one-two with Rolfe before breaking into the penalty area and sending in a low cross that Briggs cut out, then Bodycote made a brave save as he dived at the feet of Ty Ward to block his shot on the edge of the 6-yard box. Hall turned sweetly on the edge of the box and although he connected with his shot pretty well, he couldn’t get it on target. Curry, playing his first game for a number of weeks since picking up an injury, made way for the fresher legs of leading scorer Obeng two minutes before the hour mark. Olukanmi was again causing problems for the Cooks as he broke into the box on the right. Cichosz made a great challenge as he looked for goal, but the ball broke across the box where Ty Ward met it with a powerful hit that flew past Bodycote, only for Cichosz to have recovered to block on the line at chest height. Briggs made way for Josh Jones on 62 minutes, with Leon moving into the left-back berth.
Hall got goalside of his man and pulled the ball across the box only for Beecher to cut it out, then Hirst fired well over after running to the edge of the box with a bobble and the fact he was now off-balance not helping him at all. Ryan Smith sent over a cross from the right that Hirst got his head to, but it skimmed off the top and went several yards wide of the far post. Obeng got the ball at his feet on the left and danced his way past several challenges to get into the box before rolling the ball to Hall, but he was dispossessed and then Biff made his final change as Anderson replaced Waple-Moors with fifteen minutes left to play.
The game had now become a midfield scrap with a goalless draw looking more and more certain in this end of season encounter. Olukanmi got into the box only to be denied by a good challenge from Leon, then the same Irish player got past Leon only to find Ronayne covering with a solid tackle. Olukanmi was heavily involved in the move that finally saw the deadlock broken with 81 minutes on the clock. He cut across from the right and saw his shot blocked by Mallard, but the ball was still very much in the danger area as Cooks failed to clear their lines and when it fell in front of Zawe 8-yards out, the full-back leathered it first time just inside the post and sent the net bulging with its sheer power. 1-0 to the Irish with nine minutes left to play and having still failed to test their keeper, this wasn’t looking like being Cogenhoe’s day.
Mallard blocked a shot from Rolfe after a good pass from Hirst had created an opportunity, then with everyone accept the taker and keeper sent up, Parkes lifted a free-kick up into the box and it must have come off at least three players before dropping to Hall 8-yards out, but he didn’t get any power behind his overhead kick and Kyeremateng was grateful to see the ball drop into his waiting arms. Cichosz played a nice ball into the box only for the keeper to take it cleanly, then Jones managed to flick a Bodycote free-kick on inside the box, it again fell into the waiting grasp of the keeper.
In truth this was very much an end of the season affair that never really took off at all. It had been pretty close for much of the game with neither side ever dominating the show and the Cooks defence were very good again, leaving Irish with very little to play with, but they kept plugging away and snatched it late on in the game. Paul’s man-of-the-match today goes to Harley Mallard. We don’t see that much of him, but when he plays, he never lets us down.
Next up in case you had forgotten, is a trip to Sixfields on Tuesday night when we take on Step two club Peterborough Sports in the Final of the Northants F.A Hillier Senior Cup.
The Reserves scheduled trip to Kempston Rovers today was called off early afternoon after heavy overnight rain had left the pitch unplayable. A new date will be announced in the near future.
Cooks; 1. Ash Bodycote 2. Alex Parkes 3. Kodi Briggs (sub 12. Josh Jones 62) 4. Dalton Leon 5. Harley Mallard 6. Perry Ronayne © 7. Louie Barrett (sub 15. Paddy Cichosz 18) 8. Ethan Lack 9. Harry Waple-Moors (sub 16. Pharrell Anderson 75) 10. Bailey Weatherly (sub 20 Jamie Hall ht) 11. Tommy Curry (sub 17. Jessi Obeng 58).
Yellow Card; Weatherly (39) Foul.
Irish; 1. Owusu Kyeremateng 2. Clinton Zawe 3. Nat Beecher 4. Liam Smyth 5. Dhaheim Ward 6. Nathan Smith 7. Andre Olukanmi (SUB 14. Stephen Brooks 81) 8. George Shrieves (sub 15. Finn Rolfe ht) 9. Ryan Smith 10. Ty Ward © 11. Callum Hirst. Subs not used; 12. Luke Gardner 16. Oliver Coleman 17. George Boland.
Referee; Ali Cera
Assts; Robert Porter & Josh Unsworth
PHOTOS BY FINBARR CARROLL (EXCEPT THE LAST 20 WHICH ARE MINE).