Boss Carlin dreaming of cup final glory as underdogs Cogenhoe United take on Sports at Sixfields

Cogenhoe United go on another giant-killing mission when they tackle Peterborough Sports in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup final at Sixfields on Tuesday night (ko 7.45pm).
Cogenhoe United boss Scott CarlinCogenhoe United boss Scott Carlin
Cogenhoe United boss Scott Carlin

Manager Scott Carlin feels that whatever happens at the home of the Cobblers, the Cooks have racked up a 'big achievement' in just getting the final of the county's premier cup competition.

But Carlin also believes that, if things go their way, then his team is capable of upsetting the odds - after all they have done it before!

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Cogenhoe play at step five of the non-League pyramid in the United Counties League Premier Division South. while Sports ply their trade in step two and currently sit pretty in mid-table in the Vanarama National League North.

They are also the cup holders, having beaten AFC Rushden & Diamonds in last year’s final, also played at Sixfields.

On paper, Carlin's side are big underdogs, but they know they can do the business, having already seen off another step two outfit and 31-times competition winners Kettering Town in the semi-finals.

"It is going to be a tough game against a team from step two, but we have beaten Kettering and got past Diamonds (in round one) on the journey so far and we have got nothing to lose really," said Carlin.

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"We have got a young side, so it will be good for them to test themselves against a top side, because Peterborough are a good side, they have proven that over the past three years.

"Their style of play is also very physical, so we need to match that, but if our young players want to aspire to play at that level then they have to get used to playing against that type of football.

"Their player-manager, Michael Gash, is very good, and they play a lot through him.

"He is a great target man and has got goals at every level he has played at, so we will need to watch him, but they are very dangerous out wide as well.

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"So we are going to have to defend well, our goalkeeper is going to have a great game and we are going to have to take our chances when they come along."

In the semi against the Poppies at Compton Park, the Cooks, mid-table in the Premier Division South, got through via a 4-1 penalty shootout win after drawing 0-0, but it was a deserved victory with Kettering boss Lee Glover conceding as much afterwards.

"Kettering were nearly full-strength," said Carlin. "I spoke to Gloves after the game and he said we had deservedly won it.

"We won it on penalties, but he said we should have won it in normal time and I agree, we had a lot of chances but their keeper was their man of the match I think.

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"But if we can hang on for a draw in the final, we have a penalty specialist in Ash (Bodycote) our goalkeeper, as we have had three penalty shootouts this year and he has won us them all.

"And if we have to go down that route to win it, then we will.

"It is going to be a good experience playing at a professional ground, and the pitch should be decent, which will suit us and the way we want to try and play, because we do try and play if we can.

"It is a big pitch and we have plenty of pace in certain areas, and hopefully that may play into our hands. We also play on a big pitch at home, so hopefully it will suit us, but we have to match them physically as well."

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Carlin and the Cooks will be going all out to win at Sixfields, but the manager is also happy to look at the bigger picture.

The final is Cogenhoe’s first in the Senior Cup since 2014 when they lost to Daventry Town, while a team from the UCL hasn’t won the competition since 2009, when Long Buckby saw off Brackley Town.

It is a competition that is normally won by the higher-ranking non-League sides affiliated to the Northants FA, with winners in the past few years including Kettering, Rushden & Diamonds, Corby and Brackley.

"It is a great achievement for the club, to reach a senior cup final," he said.

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"The competition has the likes of Corby, Kettering, Diamonds and Daventry Town in it, and for a UCL side to get this far, I think is a big achievement.

"We can go out and enjoy it, because we have nothing to lose and the pressure is all on Peterborough."

Carlin took over at Cogenhoe last summer, after leaving his long-term role as first team coach at Rushden & Diamonds.

He has overseen a solid campaign for the Compton Park club, and knows the final against Sports could provide a very welcome silver lining.

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"This is my first season and there has been a massive rebuild,” said Carlin. “I think there is one player left from last year's first team.

"But as the season has gone on we have got stronger, and hopefully we can have a great end to it."

Spectators can pay on the gate at Sixfields tonight, with admission £12 for adults and £6 for concessions.