Date: Saturday 10th December, 2011
Starting Line-Up: Stewart, Lye, Ingle, Dallamore, Adabadze, Tett (C), Jeph, Lucas, Field, May, Hennerz.
The baby blue army arrived at a chilly Raynes Park in buoyant mood following their confident victory over old foes Merton in their previous outing and the vibe was further heightened by the knowledge that they got to wear the new kit for the second match in succession.
It was also a team with a sense of unfamiliar familiarity as the previous attacking three of May, Field and Hennerz once again played ahead of the quickly gelling duo of Jeph and Lucas. The midfield welcomed back crowd favourite Greg “Hollywood” Tett who took the skippers armband and the defence was bolstered by Mark Dallamore who slipped in alongside Ingle at the heart of the defence.
Cubo started on the front foot and quickly found that passing rhythm which is fast becoming a hallmark of their play. With the midfield three easily creating space by using the extra man and finding Hennerz and Field who hugged the touchlines stretching the Battersea back four. This movement and speed of play was once again spearheaded by May up top by himself who was running the channels and causing problems early on.
A decent exchange of passes down the right flank involving Field, Lucas and May drew a foul in a dangerous area of the pitch for Cubo. Lucas whipped a left foot cross over which somehow evaded the melee of players attacking it, and as the ball rolled tantalisingly along the line May did what all good strikers do best, got a toe end to it and claimed the goal. 1-0 Cubo.
What followed however was not a re-ignited show of pressure from Battersea Lions as they chased down the lead, but instead more ‘Ole’ football from a confident Cubo. Field was finding space down the right and lollypopping past the hapless left back and Hennerz was pulling out some flamboyant turns of his own on the left. Jeph, Tett and Lucas were ticky-tacking the ball around the midfield and May came close with a curled right footed shot from the left of the box – “oooh what a bender”
The pressure told when the ball was held up down the left flank by Hennerz, who cut back and fed Lucas 20 yards out. The man rumoured to be named after the creator of the Star Wars dynasty sent the defender the wrong way, presumably by using Jedi mind tricks, and shifted the ball onto his less favoured right foot which suddenly became “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” as the ball flew past the Battersea keeper. 2-0 Cubo.
At this the crowd (mainly subs of both sides, a few on-lookers and a group of Animal Rights activists who had turned up following a mis-print on the match day program and thinking they were confronting a gang called ‘Batter Sealions’) went crazy. And as the slick football continued, backed up by very assured defending from the Cubo backline, they broke into a samba style sing-song – appearing to personalize a version of the 1979 Gibson Brothers’ hit single “Cuba”.
Despite all of this, and with Gaz Stewart seing less of the action than Jim McGoewn after 10pm at a Cubo Christmas party, Battersea were suddenly granted a lifeline. With ten minutes to go in the first half a rare Lions corner seemed to have been dealt with at the near post when the ref inexplicably pointed to the spot claiming a push on the Battersea player. Both teams looked bemused by the decision, but the Battersea striker stepped up and side footed it home. Half time, 2-1.
A spirited half time team talk re-focused the minds of the Cubo boys who knew that a third goal would surely kill this contest. Despite this they had to weather an initial storm from the opposition who threw everything at them in the opening minutes of the half. Their Beowolf look-a-like central midfielder was suddenly getting on the ball and finding the tricky front men. But to their credit, the line of Lye, Dullamore, Ingle and Adabadze held firm, and but for a looped cross to the back post that forced a smart save from Stewart in goal, there were no scares.
The third goal killed the game as expected and it came from a likely source. Once again a ball down the left found Hennerz, who once again cut back and found Lucas who – if this was Pro Evo – was quite clearly “on a red” in this game. This time he opted for his favoured left foot and unleashed a strike, which dipped and swerved into the far top corner. Think David Silva for Valencia vs Chelsea at Stanford Bridge in the Champions League. A definite contender for goal of the season.”Tick a boo son, tick a boo.”
Cubo knew that the game as a contest was over, but the vast array of attacking talent on display started to smell blood. Jeph who had been a constant menace in the centre of the pitch all game began driving into the box with increasing regularity. Some more great play down the right from Field and May saw a ball crossed over and it was the newest addition to the Cubo ranks who soared highest to nod it in off the underside of the crossbar. 4-1 Cubo.
A breakaway consolation by Battersea was quickly cancelled out as some more neat passing saw Jeph released again behind the defence, and after shrugging off the attentions of the centre back he steered the ball calmly home into the bottom right hand corner of the net. 5-2 Cubo.
The final whistle blew to jubilant scenes from the Cubo boys who had exhibited the perfect balance of work rate, structure, flair and finishing to punish the more than decent Battersea Lions team.
They go into the Christmas break two points off top spot and with every right to think they should be challenging for the title this year. If this side stays together, and continues to play this way the rest of the league should be worried.
Final Score: Battersea Lions 2-5 AFC Cubo 3rd XI
Goals: Lucas x2, Jeph x2, May
Man of the Match: Goes to Lukas who was obviously bouyed by Little Mix making it into the Xfactor live final and the prospect of a night out in Funky Buddha that night. He has settled into this team very well.
Match Report: Hennerz