AFC Cubo 4-2 Abbey Rangers

Date: Sat 30th March 2013

Venue: Addlestone Moor

Line-up: Gaz Stewart, Rob Sadler, Andy Strickland, Hung Nguyen, Richard Gough, Mark Bradley, Ben McGeown, Jonny Patterson, Jake Flower, Greg Tett, Ryan Shedwick

Subs: Sabby Sabahatin, Eddy Jackson

Cubo made the now familiar trip down to Addlestone Moor to fulfil their home fixture against Abbey Rangers, who had kindly offered to host the game after Barnes had been unable to accommodate a 3pm ko.  Injury and Easter weekend absences meant that Eddy Jackson, Greg Tett and Sabby were brought back into the fold, though the side retained a familiar feel to the one that turned out against Yateley 3 weeks previously.

With the normally excellent surface showing signs of wear and tear it was clear that Cubo would have to adapt the passing game that has served them well during previous visits to Abbey.  Choosing to kick with the wind in the first half the intention was clearly to get the ball forward early and force the game to be played in Abbey’s half.  The wind was making it difficult for Abbey to clear their lines, and coupled with some aggressive pressing by the front-line Cubo were able to regain possession in some dangerous areas in the Abbey third.  The first clear chance fell to Shedders who did well to get on the end of a Jake Flower cross from the left only to see his effort pushed wide of the post by an excellent save by the Rangers keeper.  Greg Tett then popped up in acres of space in the inside left channel but could not generate enough power in his finish to trouble the keeper who gratefully picked up the gift-wrapped back pass.  The tricky Scot was not to be denied though and when released in the same area lifted a finish over the on-rushing keeper to make it 1-0 Cubo.  A well-deserved lead for the Cubans after a positive start.

Whilst the rejigged front-line appeared to be clicking the same could not be said of the rejigged backline.  Abbey’s decision to push their big number 5 higher up the pitch onto Cubo’s centre halves was creating holes in the man for man system and led to the equalising goal.  The Abbey number 7 was given too much time in the middle of the park to clip a seemingly innocuous straight ball behind the Cubo defence and after failing to clear their lines the ball dropped twice to the Abbey striker who made no mistake to level the scores.  Cubo continued to have the better of the contest following the goal and were soon back in front when a clumsy challenge by the Abbey defender on Jonny Patterson in the box allowed the referee to award a penalty.  Going against many lesser players’ (Henry, etc..) beliefs, J-Pat picked himself up from the turf to side-foot an unstoppable strike into the top corner.  2-1 Cubo at half time.

Despite having the wind against them Cubo made a good start to the second half but were undone when a sloppy pass in the middle of the park gave the Abbey winger a clear run on goal and his shot deflected off Goughy to loop over a stranded Gaz Stewart.  2-2.  Eddy Jackson and Sabby were introduced at this point to add some fresh impetus to the side who once again appeared to be their worst enemies when it comes to conceding.  The goal buoyed Abbey who, with the wind behind them, were able to keep Cubo penned in their half for long periods and a succession of corners and long throws rained in on Gaz Stewart’s box.  However, as against Yateley, the Baby Blue backline were able to weather this storm through a combination of luck and stout defending.  The next goal would clearly be crucial in deciding the fate of the game and it came under slightly controversial circumstances.  A corner ‘whipped’ into the near post was controlled by Flower with what appeared to be his hand before he and Sabby were unceremoniously dumped to the turf by a pair of robust challenges.  The referee had seen enough and blew up to award Cubo their second spot kick of the game.  Abbey were understandably angry that the handball had not been awarded prior to the foul being given but the referee would not be swayed.  This gave J-Pat a chance to put Cubo back in the lead, which he duly did, coolly sending the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-2 Cubo.

With the gusting wind was making it difficult to clear their lines with any conviction the dribbling ability of Ryan and the newly introduced Sabby meant that Cubo had a real threat when they could get the ball forward.  Jake Flower had a great opportunity to put the game to bed when he latched onto a through and had the trigger pulled only to see the ball taken away from him at the last second by a superb recovery challenge by the Abbey centre half.  Unfortunately for the defender in question the respite this granted Rangers did not last long as with a couple of minutes to Jake Flower again raced clear of the high defensive line and this time was able to flick a precise finish past the keeper to make it 4-2 Cubo.

Abbey could well have scored in the limited time remaining as lackadaisical defending by Cubo saw the ball flash across the box twice, both begging to be tapped in, before the referee blew up for full-time.

The cold and blustery conditions probably contributed to an error count that was significantly higher than would normally be expected in games between these two sides and Cubo probably played the conditions slightly better than their opponents.  Not a vintage performance in that respect but the front line looked dangerous throughout and the defence stood up to another aerial bombardment in the second half.  Stand-out individual performances came from Gaz Stewart, Jonny Patterson and Jake Flower who provided the spine of a performance that was good enough to secure 3 points on the day.

Goals: Greg Tett, Jonny Patterson (2), Jake Flower

Man of the Match: Jonny Patterson

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