Venue: Virginia Water
Date: Saturday 20th August 2011
Starting Line-up: Gareth Stewart; Eddy Jackson, Goughy, Oli Watkins (c); Pogo, Hung, Northy, Ben McG; Chris Gray, Paul Every, Noble
Subs: MTM, Robs Sadler, Mark Sutton
Following last year’s title winning exploits Cubo finally made their bow in the much vaunted Surrey Elite League against Virginia Water. The step up in that Cubo have made was clear from the set up alone, clubhouse, bar and raised pitch, a big departure from the glamour of Raynes Park.
Despite the absence of skipper Paul Lilwall (who’s knee injury has coincided with renewed speculation about a move to the German leagues) and Billy (still looking for his ‘bottle’ according to incumbent ‘hard man’ Oli Watkins) Cubo were able to name a very settled line-up. Virginia Water on the other hand were having to deal with numerous changes with 8 new players swelling their ranks.
This lack of familiarity was clear to see from the very first minute when Oli Watkins lofted a ball into the right hand channel, over the head of the dawdling VWFC full back to release Noble whose squared pass was converted by a sliding Chrissy Gray. 1-0 Cubo after only 17 seconds (club record???). A superb start for the boys in baby blue was followed by quarter of an hour of nip and tuck football, with very little space available to allow either side to build a decent attack. Despite this Cubo were able to breach the VWFC backline again after just 17 minutes when the VWFC left back was again found wanting, allowing Every to get in behind and get a shot off which the keeper could only parry to the onrushing Noble who slotted home to make it 2-0.
Cubo added a third shortly afterwards. Northy winning another header from a goal kick which fell to Noble who ran through on goal and saw his shot pushed away by the keeper into the path of the grateful Paul Every who side-footed past the defender on the line. 3-0 Cubo. VWFC’s defence were struggling to cope with the mobility of Cubo’s front three whose movement when Cubo had possession was superb. Even when VWFC received possession there was no respite as their back four were hounded into either giving the ball away or pumping aimless long balls to the Cubo backline where Watkins and Goughy were completely dominating the VWFC front two.
With the game opening up Cubo continued to cut throughVWFC at will with McGeown and Every both missing great opportunities, the latter following great link up play with Pogo and Noble. Luckily for Gaffer Ben McG he was able to atone for his earlier miss before the half time whistle when Chris G released Every, again in the right hand channel, whose perfectly weighted cross made it almost impossible for the gaffer to do anything but score. 4-0 Cubo. Cubo continued to pile on the pressure and added a fifth before half time when a corner from the right hand side made it all the way across to Pogo hanging out on the left wing. His cross found Noble, lurking on the edge of the six yard box and he made no mistake, half-volleying home into the roof of the net.
Coming out for the second half it appeared Cubo were in no mood to let VWFC off lightly as a sixth goal was added after only a few minutes. A long throw from Noble out on the left was powerfully headed home by an unmarked Northy to make it 6-0 Cubo.
Despite the half time exhortations to maintain the intensity of the first half, given the scoreline it wasunderstandable that there was a slight drop in the work-rate of the first period. The introduction of MTM, Sadler and Sutton off the bench went some way to lifting this with MTM going close when his deflected effort threatened to loop over the keeper before he was able to scramble back to make the save. Sutton, on for the impressive Pogo (whose professionalism extended to walking away from an all day session at the cricket the day before to make sure he was in peak condition for the game…), was making an immediate impact using his pace to great effect. On more than one occasion he was the victim of rough treatment from VWFC having skinned his opposite number (one effort being reminiscent of Claudia Cannigga against Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup).
With the game opening up Cubo were playing some confident football, shifting the ball round the pitch with ease. However there was also an element of sloppiness creeping in and VWFC should have had a penalty when Ben McG left a foot dangling which the VWFC winger threw himself over. Had it not been the enthusiasm with which he threw himself on the deck then the referee would have been left with very little choice but to award the pen, instead he decided, remarkably to play on.
With full time approaching Cubo looked set to greet the 2011/12 with a clean sheet, unfortunately a rare error from Gaz Stewart, having just made a superb finger tip save, gifted VWFC a consolation goal, a looping cross slipping between his grasp and into the net.
Whilst VWFC were a fairly poor outfit this was still a very encouraging start to the season for Cubo. Last season the backline, rightfully, received many of the plaudits but on Saturday it was the front three’s mobility and work-rate which really caught the eye. Special mentions also go to Northy who put in another dominate performance in the centre of the park and Jacko whose emergence has gone a long way to compensating for the absence of Cubo’s ‘Fabulous’ skipper.
MOTM: Andrew Noble
Scorers: Gray, Noble (2), Every, B. McGeown, North
Report: Benny Mac