Battersea Ironsides 3-2 AFC Cubo

Date: Saturday 23rd Feb 2013

Starting Line-up: Gareth Stewart, Hung Nguyen, Jonny Patterson, Oli Watkins, Richard Gough, Jacko, Ben McGeown, Ian Clarke, Andy Strickland, Jake Flower, Mike Cain

Subs: Rob Sadler

Cubo’s recent run of good form came to an abrupt end at the hands of local rivals Battersea Ironsides.   The corresponding fixture between these two sides at Barn Elms saw Battersea emerge as 2-0 winners with the baby blue army unable to cope with their opponent’s renowned set-piece prowess.  Unfortunately knowing what is coming does not necessarily mean you’ll be able to prevent it from taking place, and it was to be the case here.  A solid start by Oli Watkins’ men playing uphill and against the wind was undermined when a long throw into the box was met by Battersea’s biggest aerial threat and Gaz could only watch as the ball looped over him and into the net.  1-0 Battersea.

Despite falling foul of the exact threat that had been highlighted in the changing room Cubo responded well and levelled the scores before half time.  A searching pass from the half way line by Jacko released in-form Mikey Cain whose shot across the keeper was parried to the on-rushing Jake Flower who was left with a simple tap-in.   With Gareth Stewart coming from his line to deal with much of the aerial bombardment Cubo had good reason to feel optimistic going into the second half where they would have the advantage of playing with the slope.  In accordance with the decision was made to push a man forward in anticipation of exerting more pressure on the Ironsides backline.  However, this change in fortunes did not materialise as a combination of profligacy in possession and aggressive pressing by the home side prevented Cubo from building any pressure.

If Cubo needed any reminding of the threat that Battersea pose, relentlessly, it came shortly after half-time when a cheap free-kick was conceded 40 yards from goal.  A teasing delivery yet again saw the Battersea midfielder rise highest to head his, and Battersea’s, second of the game.  Having worked so hard to get back in the game playing against the elements in the first half, to go behind again whilst playing with them was a real body blow.

Perhaps still reeling from the second goal, Cubo found themselves yet again undone by a set-piece.  Another cheap free-kick 40 yards from goal was only partially cleared before being smashed in to the roof of the net from 10 yards by the Ironsides striker, a great finish.  Finding themselves two goals down and playing poorly, the only bright spot for Cubo was that they had 20 minutes to get back into the game.  Unfortunately it did not look it was going to be their day.  First another parried Mike Cain strike (….and Mike, to clarify, a parried shot does not count as an ‘assist’) was blazed over the empty goal by Clarkey when it looked easier to score, before Jacko fired against the bar from a tight angle.

With the clock ticking down Jacko found space down the right and his lob over the keeper was poked over the line by Jake Flower (making a cumulative total of a yard for both goals) to make it 3-2 with 2 minutes to go.    Unfortunately this wasn’t long enough to create a meaningful chance and Battersea were able to celebrate securing the double over the Baby Blue Army.

A disappointing result for Cubo given their recent form but if truth be told they never really looked like putting in a performance to match those of recent weeks.  Sloppy passing in midfield had much to do with it but credit must go to Battersea who worked hard across the pitch to prevent Cubo building any kind of rhythm and remain arguably the most potent side in the division from a set-piece situation.

Man of the Match: Gareth Stewart

Goal: J. Flower (2)

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