Date: Saturday 17th September, 2pm KO
Starting Line-up: Neil Clark, Luke Haddon, Rick Utting, Pally, Alan Clarke, Trev, Denno, Salty (c), Bradders, Stevie T, Pete Hill
Subs: John Glenn, Andy Burt, Banksy
The 2s and 3s arrived at Barn Elms with the majority of the pre-match excitement focussed on the new kit. It was worth the wait, as was seeing Denno turn up with a 2 inch nail driven through the front tyre of his 1975 racer. It is special; from the sleazy red velvet Lotto patch all the way down to the padded white bit on the socks. Salty completed the look with a fetching white sweat band to win Barn Elms best dressed. The match was played on Cubo’s new pitch, staked out carefully before the game by Pally and Stevie. With a good trim, it will be lovely to play on, which bodes well for the passing game all three Cubo teams like to play (aside from the interference from the Oak at the far end which we have been assured will be cut back).
Taking to the field after a pre-match chat from Pally centred on concentration and getting the ball out to the wide men, Cubo started brightly, releasing Trev early on the left wing to run at the Claremont right back. With Trev linking up well with Pete, Claremont were immediately pushed onto the back foot, and after some nervous early moments from the keeper including a fumbled catch and some poor kicking, it seemed only a matter of time before Cubo went one-up. With Stevie winning nearly all flick-on’s for Denno and Pete to run on to, it was only some desperate last-ditch defending that kept the score level. A salvo of corners from Pete and Denno added to some long-range shooting from Trev kept Claremont on the back foot throughout the opening 30 minutes.
However, with the quality of Cubo’s final ball slightly lacking, Claremont began to gain a foothold, and Luke and Rick were called upon more and more as the half went on to support the excellent Alan and Pally in the centre. The first half finished level, with both sides feeling they could have perhaps done more with a little extra composure in the final third.
With the rain now hammering down, the half-time team talk was taken under the shade of a convenient tree. After Clarkey’s quite frankly pathetic tantrum: ‘onevoiceonevoiceonevoice’, the overall consensus was to keep playing the same way and to concentrate on keeping it tight at the back. With Banksy coming on for Pete, and Andy for Trev five minutes later, Cubo started strongly and exerted more and more pressure on the Claremont back three. Salty and Bradders were performing like a pair of dogs hunting in a pack, refusing to let Claremont play, and Rick and Luke were composed on the ball, feeding the midfield well with passes to feet. When Bradders released Andy down the left who turned his man, he was able to loft in a cross to the back post for Stevie to nod it in to a gaping net. 1-0 to the goodies.
Claremont still pressed and Clarkey was called into action 3 times in as many minutes, making three superb flying stops with no sign of chocolate wrists. It mattered not that all three chances were deemed offside, the saves were still made. Alan Clarke was again unfortunate to have what seemed from the sidelines a perfectly good goal disallowed following a superb leap from an accurate Denno corner. With ten minutes remaining, Glenn replaced Denno, and with Banksy holding the ball up superbly and occupying the Claremont defence almost single-handedly, the clock was run-down for a well-deserved and hard fought victory. With a week off next week, the 2’s can look forward to the rest of the league knowing they have beaten a team who twice caused problems in the corresponding fixtures last year.
Final Score: AFC Cubo 2nd XI 1-0 AFC Claremont
Man of the Match: the composed and hard-working Luke Haddon
Goal: Stevie T
Match Report: John Glenn