Rushden & Higham got their hands on the NFA Junior Cup with a 2-0 win over Cogenhoe United Reserves at Sixfields.
In a clash that improved considerably after the break, goals from Craig Harrower and Jory Mann sealed a deserved triumph for Aidy Mann’s side who were well worth the win.
As befits a cup tie, the initial stages were a touch on the frenetic side as both sides sussed each other out.
With little attempt to get the ball down on a patchy surface slicked up by the early evening rain, the fare was somewhat on the crude side but as things settled down it was Rushden who were trying to play the football while Cogenhoe’s method was more direct.
A decent crowd had to wait until the 12th minute to see an attempt at goal and it was the Lankies who tried their luck first but Daryl Lawman’s effort from 15 yards went narrowly over.
Cogenhoe only threatened once in the opening half an hour when a corner went straight through the masses in front of goal and came to nothing and a couple of minutes later Lawman weakly shot at Matt James in the Cogenhoe goal.
Tyler Merries latched on to Stuart Goosey’s centre to plant a form header wide of the upright and Lawman, who was being given plenty of space down the left flank, was foiled by James.
As the contest opened up, Rushden looked the more accomplished, especially in midfield where Mann often had acres of room in which to operate but a scrambling defence kept them at bay.
Josh Clipston on the left was Cogenhoe’s main source of joy and with a left foot he could’ve been a real handful but they squandered possession too readily in the final third to cause much concern.
Shortly before the break the deadlock should’ve been broken but Ryan Kala, perhaps not realising how much freedom he had been granted six yards in front of goal, could only head over with the target at his mercy.
Cognehoe, spurred on by their half-time cuppa, were quickly out of the blocks in the second period and their first effort on target from Jack Bowen forced Aaron Doughty into a fine left-handed save.
Merries then hit the left-hand post with a crisp strike from right of the D as things livened up and on the hour the men in orange deservedly went ahead when Harrower finished precisely from 12 yards out.
With Cogenhoe’s limited gameplan being exposed, it was nearly all Rushden but not to the extent that it was one-way traffic and a second wind saw a couple of half chances for the former as they sought to level things up.
If Mann had been the outstanding player in the first half, Lawman was comfortably the game’s premier performer in the second and it was fitting that the two should combine, the latter feeding the former with a nicely weighted ball who finished with a delicate chip, to double the advantage.
And the Lankies managed to see out time in relative comfort as Cogenhoe’s challenge withered away.
Rushden & Higham: Doughty, Goosey (sub Walton), Campion, Lord, Kala, O’Connor, O’Dell, Mann (sub Cormack), Merries, Harrower (sub Farrar), Lawman.
Cogenhoe: James, Jones, Mortimer (sub Stewart), Caton, Nullhamby (sub McWilliams), Naby (sub Cooper), Porter, Herbert, Bowen, Wells, Clipston.