Starting Line-up: Arnie, Jingle, Tom G, Nick F, Oli Wats, Bradders, Dave W, Salty (c), Crisp, Boase, Cooper.
Subs: Phil Smith, Tel, Sam Ward.
Cubo 2s returned to Barn Elms for their first home league fixture of the campaign, entertaining an experienced Claremont side. After delaying the kick off whilst the visitors located their kit, the injured Hooper was able to name an extremely strong 14, with several good players left out altogether of the match day squad.
Cubo started the game brightly with Tom Golding looking to raid from left back, and Dave W and Bradders adding some quality to the midfield. However, the home side were a little to eager to get the ball forward to Milan who was leading the line against 2 strong centre halves – emulating Cubo’s partnership of Nick Flower and Oli.
The Cubans, looking resplendent in a brand new home strip, were without question the better side but they were unable to really test the Claremont keeper. A few balls across the six yard box and a half chance for Salty and Milan who both dragged their efforts wide of the goal meant at half time the scores were level.
Claremont started the second half in more positive fashion and took a deserved, but fortunate lead on the hour mark when after squandering possession a tad easily a counter attack led to a deflected shot lopping over Arnie who had no chance.
Cubo responded by moving Dave to right back to give extra impetus going forward from wide areas, but despite sliding in debutant Sam Ward in the right channel the Brummie marksmen was unable to direct his near post shot on target.
Despite the possession being pretty even, Claremont were looking increasingly assured and ended the contest after their substitute rode a number of challenges before firing in from close range at the second time of asking.
Luke Arnold, fresh from an impressive display the week before, continued his good form in goal with a superb double save as an increasingly desperate set of baby blue players left themselves short at the back in the hunt for a consolation goal.
Full Time: AFC Cubo 2nd XI 0-2 Claremont
Man of the Match: No votes were taken, but Arnie deserves recognition for 2 faultless displays from 2 in the Cubo goal.
A tough loss to take for a rebuilding Cubo team who more than matched a well drilled outfit for long periods. Overall there were plenty of positives to take, especially from the first half.
The way the team tired in the second half was a concern, and a little more composure and clarity of thought in possession, allied to more aggression in winning the ball back will make the difference in getting points on the board. This was showcased in the 1s win over Merrow and is a good benchmark to aspire to.