Cubo continued their pre-season with a bank holiday trip to local rivals and last season’s runners-up Battersea Ironsides. Despite a number of absences interim gaffer Benny Mac was still able to name a strong side with yellow card specialist Richard Gough returning to the backline and new signing Greg Benson making his first appearance. An hour’s worth of rain had left the pitch, which was in fantastic nick after a summer of rest, extremely slick and had an immediate impact on the game. From kick off a long ball forward was nodded down by JPat, before skidding off the deck to wrong foot the Battersea backline and fall to Martin 30 yards out. Last week’s goalscorer took a couple of touches before unleashing a curling strike which had the keeper beat all ends up before striking the underside of the ball, rebounding down and being nodded into the empty net by Ben McG. 1-0 after about 10 seconds, the quickest goal in Cubo history by one of its slowest players. The rain had contributed to Cubo’s great start and also had the effect of negating one of Battersea’s great strengths, the long throw. The slickness on the ball meant that Battersea’s long throw specialists were unable to get the same purchase on the ball so were unable to launch balls into the box from the same distance as they normally would. Despite this Cubo still had to ride out a bit of a storm after the opening goal as Battersea kept them pegged in their own box for large patches of the next ten minutes. In previous seasons it is in this period that Cubo have conceded against Battersea but with Gaz looking authoritative under the aerial ball and the defence, marshalled by the Goughy/Ralph centre half pairing, looking committed the away side managed to ride out this period. When Cubo did get hold of the ball they looked dangerous, with Martin’s pace in particular causing the Battersea backline headaches. Cubo soon found themselves in unchartered waters as they took a two goal lead. A quick throw from Hung gave Ben McG the space to get a cross in which Martin powered past the Ironsides keeper with a great header. 2-0 Cubo. The home side appeared slightly shell-shocked, possibly slightly leggy from their exertions on the Saturday which Cubo had the benefit of avoiding but once again they enjoyed a dominant period after the goal. First a strike from their ageing frontman drifted just wide of the top corner before the centre half got on to the end of a cross from the left but could only direct his header straight at Stewart in the Cubo net. Either side of the keeper and it was a certain goal. Coming out for the second half it was clear that the next goal would be key in deciding how the rest of the game would be played out. Luckily for Cubo, this goal fell to them. Once again the rain had a part to play as a pass back skidded off the surface, surprising the Ironsides keeper and his shanked clearance left Bradders with a simple tap-in. As the game wore on Cubo were increasingly able to move the ball at will, and had greater ruthlessness be shown in the final third you felt another goal was there for the taking. Another goal should have been there for the taking when a great reverse pass from Martin released Greg in the inside right channel but the wideman was pulled down in the box as he was about to strike the ball. Despite what appeared to be three separate fouls taking place the referee decided against awarding a penalty to the dismay of the away side. Cubo’s failure to get another goal almost came back to haunt them when Ironsides scored two late consolation goals. The first was a well-taken volley by the Ironsides striker before a penalty was awarded for a foul by Hung in the box. Despite appearing to get the ball, the ageing full-back did fly into the tackle and it was this that probably swung the refs decision. The penalty was duly slotted away to leave Cubo with a nervy final few minutes which thankfully they made it through to secure a superb three points.
Despite Battersea possibly suffering the effects of a game 48 hours previously this was still a great result for the Cubans against a side who will no doubt be in the mix later in the season. Strong performances across the board but particularly from the backline who dealt well with everything thrown at them.
Goalscorers – Ben McG, Martin, Bradders
MOTM – Martin
Line-up – Gaz, Sads, Hung, Gough, Ralph, Bradders, Ben McG, Pykey, Martin, JPat, Greg Benson
Subs – Chris Grayson, Tom Hoops