Date: Saturday 10th September 2011
Starting Line-up: Neil Clark, (the new) Denno, Alan Clarke, Pally, Jim McGeown, Rick Utting, Seb Brain, Salty (c), Mark Bradley, Pete Hill, Steven Taylor.
Subs: Luke Haddon, Andy Burt.
And so it begins… Raynes Park has been the graveyard of many aspirations from disappointed Friday night doggers to a groundsman who obviously resents the very earth he helps to destroy year on year. As such it was a testing opening venue for the 2nd’s against a newly promoted and confident Battersea Old Firm on a pitch not conducive for ‘lifestyle’ football with Cubo also battling bad memories of a litany of dropped points on this ground last season. The team started with a sweeper and 3 up top and whist getting to grips with the new system still dominated possession and enjoyed several promising attacks thwarted only by inconsistent final balls and/or a lack of supporting numbers from midfield. Stevie T playing as the spearhead and ‘go to ball’ from the wingbacks combined well to utilise the pace of Pete Hill and Seb Brain going forward. This was the pattern of the first 20 minutes with the Cubo defensive three looking solid and confident whenever the ball did come their way. Then disaster struck as Bradley was caught dwelling on the ball on the edge of the Cubo area and Battersea capitalised clinically to go one up against the run of play. The final 20 minutes of the half became a little scrappy with Cubo still seeing a lot of the ball but failing to fully get a grip on the game despite managing several more promising attacks down both flanks with Stevie T instigating these from his central position. However, failing to capitalise on these attacks Cubo were once again made to pay for their sloppiness and were caught by another well executed break-away after losing possession to go in 2-0 down at half-time.
Despite the scoreline the half-time atmosphere was upbeat and Cubo started the second half in a new 4-4-2 formation with Luke Haddon coming on to make an assured official Cubo debut. The scrappiness continued for the first 20 minutes of the second half as Cubo resolutely continued trying to play their style of football but desperately needing the break-through goal to trigger their comeback. This came from the most unlikely of sources when with slightly less than 20 minutes left on the clock Pally floated in a free-kick from just inside the opposition’s half which the Battersea keeper flapped into his own net under pressure from a melee of players. This was the spark Cubo needed and after several missed opportunities (and a few scares at the back as Cubo pushed on) the equaliser came from another new boy Andy Burt on as a second half sub who finished with a fantastic header coming in from the left wing to meet a cross from Salty. All of Cubo’s hard-work pre-season looked to be showing as their superior fitness saw them dominate the last 10 minutes with a handful of chances to deservedly win the game but once again a poor final ball or wasteful finishing were to deny them the 3 points. Despite their strong finish Cubo still had Neil Clark to thank for an excellent save from a rare Battersea break.
All in all a tough first fixture for Cubo produced many positives with the team strengthened in key areas and showing a gritty resilience and a borderline homosexual team spirit which offers great hope for the season ahead. The valuable point and good team performance should provide a good base to build from for the season.
Man of the Match: Alan Clarke
Goals: Pally, Andy Burt.
Match Report: Mark Bradley.