Football Language: Under the Cosh

Under the CoshIn this football language post we explain the phrase ‘Under the Cosh‘. This phrase is often connected with attacking football. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Cliche: Under the Cosh

let’s start by looking at the noun in this phrase – cosh. This is a countable noun, and refers to a baton, truncheon, a short stick used by police for protection or to subdue suspects. As with many nouns, we can use it as a verb, to cosh someone, which would mean to hit someone with a baton or truncheon. Being under the cosh, means you are being attacked or threatened. In football, a team under the cosh is continually being attacked. Maybe their opponent has a series of corners, sends in lots of crosses into the box, has a lot of shots. In this situation, you are under the cosh. We often add a time phrase as well: e.g. under the cosh for long periods of the game, or under the cosh for most of the second half. So, under the cosh means under pressure.

Example: Gerrard bemoaned that Rangers “couldn’t cope” with being “under the cosh” after watching his side surrender a 1-0 lead with two late goals at Killie. (BBC February 2020)

Example: Eastwood’s stunning goal came in first-half injury time after Wales had been under the cosh for long periods in Bourgas. (BBC August 2007)

Related football language

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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