Cubans send Clapham boys back to the Projects
Goals: Oli Perkins (2), Harry Tulip
MOTM – Elliot Connolly / Oli Perkins
Starting line-up: G. Stewart, D. Wall, H. Nguyen, O. Watkins, R. Wensley, B. McGeown, J. Patterson, E. Connolly, M. Ansell, O. Perkins, H. Tulip
Sub: R. Sadler
Cubo’s encouraging start to the season has hit the buffers in recent weeks with a couple of disappointing results in the league and a first round exit from the Cup at the hands of Reigate Priory. As such the fixture with in form Clapham took on extra significance. The newly promoted side have started well in the Surrey Elite and Cubo were well aware of their quality having lost a pre season friendly to them back in 2013. The recent availability issues continued with only one of last weeks defence named in the starting line up. However there were also some notable returning players with the South Wales Radio back between the sticks, ex-gaffer Ray Quinn back in the heart of the defence and Elliot Connolly coming back into the middle of the park. The pitch was in mint playing condition with a stiff cross field breeze the only detracting factor.
The games first chance fell to the home side when a great delivery from the left found the Clapham striker in space in the box but he was unlucky to see his header strike the underside of the bar before being cleared. Cubo then took the lead when Pogo was played into space on the left and he put in a peach of a cross in the ‘Corridor of Uncertainty’ (TM) which left Oli Perkins with a simple tap in at the back stick. Up to this point Clapham had enjoyed the better of things however the Cubo frontline was looking dangerous whenever they got hold of the ball and it was a threat Clapham never fully dealt with. The lead was extended shortly afterwards when Martin whipped in a free kick which was never cleared and when the keeper parried the resultant shot Harry ‘one goal a game’ Tulip was on hand to make it 2-0. With the sun causing issues for both keepers, it was no surprise when it led to the third goal for the away side. Another good delivery from Martin was misjudged by the keeper, whose punch ended up looping back towards his own goal. Even with the keeper in no mans land Oli Perkins still had a lot to do with his back to goal and defenders surrounding him but his nonchalant back-heeled half volley was out of the top draw. Clapham were understandably looking shell shocked at the score line having played relatively well for most of the half but it could have been worse had Harry kept his next effort slightly lower, instead the crossbar saved Clapham from a four goal deficit. The real difference between the sides was the Cubo frontline who were terrorising the home defence. Clapham received a life line back into the game when some sloppy defending from Cubo saw the ball fall invitingly to the Clapham right back and he absolutely rifled a finish past Gaz, that was still rising as it hit the back of the net. With just minutes to play before half time the dynamic of the game could have altered dramatically when Vinod inability to clear their lines gifted a chance to the Clapham striker but Gaz put in an excellent bloke to maintains the two goal lead at HT. Despite the late goal it was Cubo who emerged the stronger of the two in the second half keeping the home side penned in their own half and it was during this period that they really should have killed the game off. Without the fourth goal Clapham were always still in the game and when the referee awarded a penalty for a block in the box It looked like Cubo might be on the verge of throwing all of their good work away. Luckily Gaz saved the resultant penalty, pushing the ball away where hung completed the clearance. The save continues the keepers recent good record in penalty situations over the last 12 months. He compounded the save by taking a great catch from the corner that followed before the excitement of it all got too much for him as he wildly booted the ball off the pitch. Cubo still ended up making life difficult for themselves when they allowed the Clapham left back to advance all the way to the edge of the box and under no pressure he unleashed an absolute rocket into the toppest of top corners. He will never score a better goal in his life. The final few minutes were made all the more tense by this late strike but Cubo were able to hold on to secure a much needed three points that gets them back on track on the league.
A much improved display on recent outings, the only disappointing aspect being the failure to kill the game off at 3-1 which almost resulted in Clapham snatching a point late on. Next week sees the Cubans make the long journey out to Yateley where they will be looking to keep the pressure on the top three against an out of sorts Yateley United.