Date: Saturday 31st March 2012
Starting Line-up: Neil Clark, Oli Watkins, Ed Jackson, Bobby Sadler, Jonny Patterson, Ryan Shedwick, Mark Bradley, Lucas Pickett, Paul Every, Sabby
Sub: Ian Clarke
The absence of various members of the squad as we enter Stag Do season meant that Cubo put out arguably their smallest side of the season, against the side probably most geared up to exploit this failing. The first game between these two sides was a hard-fought affair with some desperate defending by Cubo in the second half securing a 2-1 win that had given them hope of securing 3rd spot in the league. Results over the past two weeks had meant this was no longer in Cubo’s hands but a win against their local rivals would give them some hope of still achieving this goal. Skipper Oli Watkins won the toss and in accordance with a pre-match vote choose to play against the slope in the first half.
With the blustery wind eventually settling behind the home side, the Baby Blue Army would have to be at their best defensively to confound the elements and a side well-stocked with aerial prowess. Battersea’s game plan was clear from the off with the ball being punted long for their forwards to contest in the hope of winning field position. With big throwers available on both sides of the pitch, any throw-in less than 35 yards from the touchline was treated as a corner with the big centre-halves trundling up from the back. Whilst crude, the tactic proved immediately effective when a long throw from the left was nodded home by the Battersea centre mid (or the ‘that boy with the trampoline on his forehead’ as Ryan referred to him as). 1-0 Battersea.
Cubo were trying to play football but the wind and hard ground meant that the ball was rarely on the deck long enough to do this. The home side continued to bombard the Cubo box and it was no surprise when they added a second. A well-delivered corner from the left was emphatically headed home by the Battersea centre-half to give his team a two goal lead. 2-0 Battersea. A shell-shocked Cubo looked like they might be on the end of a hiding if the game continued in this vein. Fortunately for them this wasn’t the case and as the half progressed they gradually began to assert themselves on the game. With the returning Mark Bradley to the fore Cubo upped the tempo on their opponents, realising that preventing the Battersea defence settling would be key to getting back in the game.
The first glimpse of goal for Cubo came when Sabby was released in the left hand channel but the burly front man dragged his effort with his weaker foot wide of the goal. Cubo’s best chance of the half came following a goal mouth scramble which saw the ball fall at Every’s feet in the box but his goal bound effort was well blocked.
Half Time: Battersea Ironsides 2-0 AFC Cubo
Having weathered a storm in the first half Cubo had the elements on their side in the second half and immediately had their hosts on the back foot. The first effort of the half saw the Battersea keeper beat away a rasping volley from the edge of the box from Bradders that the midfielder did well to keep on target. The Battersea backline had looked solid in the first half when given the time to get organised but with Cubo upping the tempo and moving the ball with far greater effectiveness gaps were beginning to emerge. Some neat work in the box then saw Watkins blast a good chance wide before Cubo got the goal they deserved. Ryan had been getting some joy down the right hand side throughout the first half and another neat interchange allowed Every to work the ball across goal, making its way through a crowd of players and leaving Pogo with a simple tap in from a yard out.
With the momentum behind them and only a goal needed, the odds on Cubo getting an equiliser seemed staked in their favour. On top of this the pace of the game appeared to be taking its toll on the Battersea midfield who were no where near the dominant force they had been in the first half. Cubo continued to dominate but a combination of sturdy defending by the home side and a slight lack of quality in the final third from Cubo meant that the home keeper remained relatively untested. With Cubo pushing for an equaliser they were always going to expose themselves on the counter. First Jacko was caught dallying on the ball as the last man, allowing the Battersea striker a clean run on goal. Luckily for Cubo he scuffed his attempted finish miles wide when he really should have scored. Second time round the away side were not so lucky. When the same striker nicked the ball off Clarkey to give himself a clean run on goal again, he decided against trusting his shooting boots and squared to his supporting team-mate who slotted home into an empty net. 3-1 Battersea.
Final Score: Battersea Ironsides 3-1 AFC Cubo
Scorer: Jonny Patterson
Man of the Match: Paul Every
Whilst not quite as gut-wrenching as last week’s result against Horsley this will still go down as a vert disappointing result for Cubo. A slow start and inability to deal with the aerial bombardment they faced in the first half gave them a mountain to climb in the second. Despite an impressive second half performance where Cubo showed a determination to play football that almost brought them back into the game. With a bit more cutting edge in the final third you feel that they would have come away with at least a point from the game.
Match Report: Benny Mac