Date: Sat 8th October 2011
Starting Line-up: Tommy Stewart, Rob Sadler, Mark Sutton, Sweepie T, Oli Watkins, Richard Gough, Michael North, Ben McGeown, Ryan Shedwick, Andrew Noble, Chris Gray
Subs: Tom Hooper, Ian ‘Ooooh, I’ve hurt my ribs…’ Clarke
A lack of availability throughout the club meant that Cubo were only able to name a 2 man bench that included the still injured Clarkey who has yet to recover from the non-existent challenge that he suffered against Bletchingley. Luckily the slightly overcast conditions were more player friendly than last week’s dalliance with the tropics. Cubo were once again able to sample the benefits of promotion with a lovely clubhouse on the village green (Surrey Village of the Year 2007, sure) and a pitch in good nick (if a little hard for a man giving a debut run out to a new pair of Puma Kings).
Despite numbers being short Cubo were able to name a strong line up with Chris Gray (RIP for the next 6 weeks) returning up front and club chairman Stevie T replacing Cubo’s resident mayonnaise connoisseur Edward Jackson. Ripley Village had enjoyed a good start to the season, though consecutive defeats in recent weeks had undermined this somewhat and they started the day a point ahead of the Baby Blue Army.
Unlike recent weeks Cubo started the game relatively brightly, knocking the ball around well albeit without troubling the Ripley backline. Ripley were clearly keen to hit their skilful frontman early and the wide pitch meant there was plenty of space in the channels for them to do exactly this. The first goal of the game came from a combination of shocking defending from Cubo and adroit footwork from the Ripley forward. Managing to evade 3 weak challenges on the edge of the area he composed himself to slot past Tommy in the Cubo goal. 1-0 Ripley. A disappointing goal to concede for a Cubo side that has prided itself on its defensive strength.
They could be thankful to Gaz Stewart for not going further behind when he made a fine save to tip over a strike destined for the top corner. Despite this Cubo could be encouraged by the start they had made, gradually building pressure on Ripley and it was no surprise when they scores were levelled. A quick free kick found Ryan on the edge of the box and his flick released Noble in the box. His initial effort was palmed away by the keeper but Ryan was quickest to react, squaring to Northy who side-footed home off the post. 1-1.
With the goal they felt they deserved Cubo pushed on and Northy almost added a second before half time, only to see his long range effort fizz wide of the post. With the tide of the game clearly in favour of the Baby Blue Army they somehow found themselves a goal down again. The Ripley striker was allowed to get to the by-line far too easily and his cross to the back post was headed back across goal and onto Sadler’s out-stretched hand. The referee had little option but to give the penalty, though the yellow card he dished out was a bit harsh given that Sadler had no idea where the ball was or any option of getting out of the way of it. Unfortunately Tommy Stewart was unable to repeat his heroics against Reigate, and, despite guessing the right way, was beaten for the second time of the afternoon. 2-1 Ripley Village.
Following a spirited half time talk Cubo started the second half with far greater urgency and soon found themselves level again. With the ball breaking to Noble 30 yards from goal he released Ryan in the inside right channel and the chirpy Northerner cut inside his man before firing in at the keepers near post. 2-2. More pressure from Cubo then saw Northy meet a long throw from Noble and push a volley past the keeper from the six yard line. 3-2 Cubo. Cubo’s lead was no more than their energetic start deserved but taking the lead appeared to have a negative effect as they began to sit deeper and the earlier urgency was replaced by anxiety.
The balance of the game shifted back in favour of the home side who began to dominate possession. With the home side pressing for an equiliser there were always going to be chances on the break for Cubo and Ben McG should have put the game to bed when Sutton pulled the ball back to him 8 yards out but he blazed wide. Northy too, suffering a bout of hat-trick fever, found himself on the end of a cross in the Ripley box but was unable to keep his effort down. Cubo continued to invite pressure allowing the home side a lot of possession on the edge of the Cubo box which led to a succession of dangerous corners which were defended with a mixture of committed headers, luck and glaring misses from Ripley.
Unfortunately for Cubo they were unable to ride their luck and Ripley eventually made them pay when an outswinging corner that was powerfully headed home to make it 3-3 with minutes to go. Some over the top celebrations from the Ripley centre mid sparked some ugly scenes that marred what was an otherwise sportingly contested fixture. The game looked like it might have one more twist when Noble latched on on to a loose ball inside the Ripley half, cleverly beat his man and bore down on goal. Unfortunately his finish was pushed away to safety by the Ripley keeper to leave scores tied at full time.
A see-sawing game that Cubo will felt that they could and should have won had it not been for some poor defending and an inability to kill the game off at 3-2. In spite of this it was important to stop the rot following two defeats on the spin and the greater attacking threat displayed will be encouraging following some toothless displays recently.
Final Score: Ripley Village 3-3 AFC Cubo
Scorers: Northy 2, Ryan
Man of the Match: Northy
Match Report: Benny Mac