Abbey Rangers 1-5 AFC Cubo

Date: Sat 9th Feb 2013

Starting line-up: Gareth Stewart, Andy Strickland, Rob Sadler, Joe Darlington, Richard Gough, Mark Bradley, Ian Clarke, Ben McGeown, Jake Flower, Paul Every, Mike Cain

Subs: Jonny Patterson, Ryan Shedwick, Oli Watkins

Cubo returned to Addlestone Moor for the replay of the opening game of the season which was abandoned after 60 minutes due to torrential rain with Cubo leading 2-1 at the time.  The fortunes of the two teams have differed starkly since then with Rangers enjoying a strong first half of the season whilst Cubo have struggled to match last seasons form, leaving them languishing in the lower echelons of the league.

For perhaps the first time this season Cubo gaffer Oli Watkins was able to enjoy the enjoy the benefit of consistent squad availability with only Gaz Stewart and Mike Cain returning to the starting line-up from last weeks impressive win against Oxted.  The home side on the other hand were missing some key players in the middle of the park and up front, a factor which would have a large bearing on the game.

Cubo started the brighter of the two sides and aggressive pressing by the frontmen was immediately making life difficult for the Rangers backline who were forced into rushing clearances.  With Joey D and Goughy dominant at the back Cubo were able to get the ball down and get Sadler and Andy forward to good effect.  The full-backs ability to link up with ‘Nick’ Flower and Every in front of them was a feature of the early stages of the game, particularly down the left where the Rangers right back was having a torrid time of it.  Cubo’s positive start was almost rewarded when Clarkey picked out Mike Cain in the inside right channel but his attempted lob never looked like going in.  The Club Veet expert soon made amends, when Bradders released Every down the right, who in turn delivered a peach of a cross to the near post where Mike finished nicely on the volley.  The score was soon doubled when more pressure from the strikers saw Mike Cain gifted the ball in the Rangers area and when his attempted pass to Flower came back to him he made no mistake, crashing his shot past the keeper to make it 2-0.  With the game drifting away from Rangers, the home side’s manager made some changes to tighten up the middle of the park where the mobility of the Cubo engine room was winning the day against the greater physicality of the home side and Rangers immediately looked the better for it.  With less space to play in Cubo were guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply, bringing pressure on to themselves and lending encouragement to the home Rangers.  Luckily the Cubo backline were able to dominate a relatively toothless Rangers attack, no doubt missing the poise and threat posed by their absentees.  Despite this rough patch Cubo still looked the more likely scorers, though a snap shot from distance by Flower was the closest they came before the half time whistle.

Rangers were looking for a vastly improved performance in the 2nd half but got off to the worst start possible by conceding early on. Mike Cain was once again involved.  His cheeky cross took a deflection before taking an age to fall to Bradders in the box who showed great composure to guide a volley across the keeper and into the far corner.  The goal took the wind out of the home sides sails and with Cubo’s midfield seemingly first to every ball more goals were on the cards.  Chances came and went with Cain and Clarkey both culpable on more than one occasion.  Cubo’s wastefulness came back to bite them when they conceded with 15 mins to go.  A rare break by Rangers was poorly defended down the left hand side and the ball was worked across the box to the Rangers left winger who slotted past Gaz to make it 3-1.  Given Cubo’s poor form this season, and history of throwing away decent leads, this might have been cause for some concern but before these fears even had a chance to crystallise the lead was back to 3 goals.  A neat interchange of passes on the edge of the Rangers box between Bradders, McGeown and Cain gave the in-form striker enough time to have a touch and fire a finish on the turn into the bottom corner.  The gloss on the finish was provided with a few minutes to go when an in-swinging corner from Mike Cain was headed past his own keeper by the big number 5.  An unfortunate end to the game for Rangers’ most impressive player on the day.

An impressive and much needed result for the Baby Blue Army who for the first time displayed the kind of clinical finishing that has so often been lacking from their play.  Gaffer Watkins will be hoping that the recent improvement in availability continues into next week’s fixture against top of the table Horsley.  Cubo have enjoyed 3 good tussles with the league leaders since their promotion to the SEIL, yet it is Horsley who have come away with 3 points on each occasion, a record that the Baby Blue Army will be determined to put right this Saturday.

Scorers: Mike Cain (3), Bradley, OG

Man of the Match: Mike Cain

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