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)