Date: Saturday 24th March 2012
Starting Line-Up: Neil Clark, Thom Hooper, Jonny Patterson, Oli Watkins (c), Joe Darlington, Richard Gough, Ben McGeown, Ryan Shedwick, Chris Gray, Andrew Noble, Mike Cain
Subs: Bobby Sadler, Ed Jackson
Cubo’s run-in from hell began with a visit from Horsley, arguably the most impressive side they have faced this season. Horsley ran out 2-0 winners in the first fixture between these sides, a high quality game where the home side showed a footballing ability that few teams have matched this season. In spite of this, the Baby Blue Army had been more than competitive in that game and with Horsley missing some key players coupled with the motivational speech dished out midweek by avid Cubo fan Kriss Akabusi there was plenty of cause to be confident.
With the pre-game talk centred on not giving away cheap goals, Cubo duly proceeded to concede a sloppy goal in the first minute. A long ball over the top saw the Horsley striker use dubious legal means to get the better of Joey D, and with the referee waving away Cubo’s protests for a foul the ball was pulled back to the supporting Horsley midfield who angled his shot across Clarkey and in off the far post. 1-0 Horsley. A shocker of a start for Cubo.
With an uphill battle ahead of them Cubo soon found their rhythm and enjoyed a lot of territorial dominance for the rest of the half with Nobes, Chrissy and Mikey dropping deep to receive the ball with good effect. Having worked some good positions in the Horsley box without getting a shot off, the first chance of the half fell to Chris Gray who found space on the edge of the box after side stepping a challenge, before blazing his effort over the bar. Noble then saw an outrageous 40 yard strike fly high and wide (always back yourself) before following up this sighter with a fiercely struck curling effort which appeared to be destined for the top corner until the keeper scrambled across just in time to turn it over the bar. Mike Cain was looking dangerous whenever the ball reached him and he had an effort parried away by the keeper having dribbled his way into the box. With Hoops getting forward to good effect down the right the home side forced a series of corners which Horsley defended well. Cubo were playing some of their best football of the season, unfortunately they could not get the goal which their efforts deserved.
Half Time: AFC Cubo 0-1 Horsley
A confident Cubo emerged for the second sure that they would be able to get back into the game, a belief that was helped by Horsley removing their top scorer within 10 minutes of the restart. Whilst the momentum continued to be with Cubo there was less quality to their work with passes going astray and the ball being shunted long too often, playing into the hands of the aerially dominant Horsley centre half. Horsley are clearly a well-drilled unit, setting up shop to defend their one goal lead, the discipline and compactness of their defensive shape was proving too much for Cubo to break down. Despite this Cubo still created enough chances to get back into the game. Pogo saw a header pushed over the bar, before Mike Cain put the ball in the back of the net only to be pulled back for a Cubo free kick – the ref having stopped playing advantage before allowing the passage of play to run its course – and a big shout for handball in the box was turned down.
With Cubo pressing forward there was always a danger of being caught on the break and only a superb block by skipper Oli Watkins prevented the Horsley striker being given a clear run on goal. The big moment of the half however came with about 10 minutes to go. Horsley for once failed to clear yet another Cubo corner and from the ensuing scramble the ball crossed the line not once, but twice. Given the angle the referee was reliant on his linesman to help him make the decision the linesman kept his flag down. A remarkable decision given the fact that the ball crossed the line by over a yard on the second occasion. A tough one to take for Cubo, particularly given how hard they had worked all game, and one that took the stuffing out of them somewhat.
With time ticking away Neil Clark made an excellent one on one save to give Cubo hope of rescuing a point. The home side were able to create one more chance with the ball breaking to Sadler in the box but his rising drive fizzed just over the bar. With the final minute approaching Horsley won a free kick on the edge of the box, which their sub struck low and hard beneath the wall and past Clarkey’s despairing dive.
Final Score: AFC Cubo 0-2 Horsley
A massively disappointing result for Cubo, who will feel doubly disappointed not to have secured 3 points despite playing some of their best football of the season. The failure to score belies some of the excellent attacking football played at times, with the frontline looking dangerous whenever they received the ball into feet. The two goals and the odd long throw aside, the Cubo backline looked comfortable throughout, though the nature of the goals conceded recently will be of concern. Credit must go to Horsley who came to Barn Elms without much of the attacking talent which had caused Cubo so many problems earlier in the season. The away side maintained a compact shape throughout and were clinical in taking the chances that came their way. Cubo’s quest for 3rd is now out of their hands and they go into next week’s penultimate fixture of the season against Battersea Ironsides knowing that a win is a must if they are to finish above their local rivals in the table.
Apologies to Mr. Akabusi.
Man of the Match: Andrew Noble
Match Report: Benny Mac