Date: Saturday 7th September 2013
Venue: Wandsworth Common
Starting XI: Arnie, R. Jones, Nguyen, Fraser, J. McGeown, Wall, Hooper, Salty (C), Utting, Crisp, Oli.
The 2s got their Wimbledon District League, Premier Division, campaign underway with the short trip (for some of us anyway) to Wandsworth Common to face newly promoted Division 1 champions Brentside, who looked a physically big and experienced side.
Despite 2 late drop outs on the eve and morning of the fixture, new manager Hoops took a good squad and was optimistic of a strong result to kick off the season.
Looking to get in behind a particularly big backline, Cubo could have taken the lead inside 120 seconds when a ball across the face of goal from the effervescent Crisp was turned onto the post from just a couple of yards out from Skipper Salt Dogg.
Cubo were playing at a good tempo, working the ball wide effectively, with front man Oli Perkins drifting into the left wing channel and consistently rolling his marker and leaving him for dead.
Despite an imposing start, the Baby Blues went behind midway through the first half. Brentside won the ball in midfield and worked the ball to the right wing, where a good across was nodded in from point blank range at the back post.
The setback didn’t derail Cubo’s good play though, and Perkins saw his volley crash against the crossbar, and another good snapshot on the turn pushed away by the home keeper. Crisp also had a good chance when put in via a diagonal ball, but in trying to lift the ball over the advancing keeper he just overcooked it.
On the stroke of half time an incredible piece of bad fortune saw Crisp’s squared ball across the face of goal clipped over the crossbar from fully one year out by Perkins, who was wondering what he’d have to do to open his account.
Despite the frustrations at the 1-0 deficit, Cubo regrouped at half time and equalised almost immediately in the second half. Hooper, making some amends for losing the ball for Brentside’s opener, won the ball in midfield, and after Rick Utting was freed down the left hand side his measured early ball was deservedly converted at the second attempt by the relieved Oli P.
Cubo were now pulsing with belief and with Crisp surging past his opponent at will, and the Cubo midfield trio largely dictating things, it seemed a matter of time before they were to take the lead.
A hammer blow of a second goal followed when a needlessly given away throw-in was nodded in by Brentside’s powerful skipper. Arnie attempted to come for the ball, but met a crowd and the resulting header found it’s way into the vacated net.
Cubo looked, once again, for an equaliser that was the least they deserved but despite a Thethy shot just arcing the wrong side of the right post, and 2 or 3 occasions where a lack of ruthlessness saw excellent opportunities in the Brentside box spurned, the home team scored a third scrappy goal from a long free kick into the box.
The most galling thing about the 3rd goal was the Cuban backline was defending well, and the hosts did not look remotely threatening from open play. Hung was marshalling well and De La Frase was getting tight to the talented striker of Brentside and keeping him relatively quiet.
Jones and substitute Jez continued to get forward well from full back, and despite more good opportunities a very stretched Cubo conceded a fourth late on.
A truly bizarre game, where on chances alone, Cubo should have won comfortably. Going forward we need to be more streetwise and ruthless in attack, but despite the scoreline the positives vastly outnumbered the negative issues. The formation worked, we looked the fitter and more mobile team, but we will need to quickly learn how to deal with teams at the more direct end of the spectrum.
Final Score: Brentside 4-1 AFC Cubo 2nd XI
Man of the Match: Rich Crisp was the overwhelming vote, enjoying comfortably his best performance in a Cubo shirt. He consistently beat his man, and was able to create a number of excellent chances for his colleagues.