Date: Saturday 17th October
Venue: Barn Elms Pitch 5 (AKA The Postage Stamp)
Starting Line-up: Luke Arnold, Adam Fox (Chris Bentley), Oli Watkins, James Ingle, Frederik Gorlitz (John Egan), Henry Neville (Martin Shardlow), Satal Thethy, Joe Mull, Richard Crisp, Tom Simmons, Andrew Pinnington.
Subs: Chris Bentley, Martin Shardlow, John Egan
AFC Cubo 2nd XI, with two wins from their first three, continued their campaign at Barn Elms against a Lokomotiv Lavender side yet to lose in 2015.
Spectators hoping to see an attractive advert for the beautiful game from two of the division’s form teams would have been sorely disappointed. This was an ugly game, but what it lacked in quality it made up for in intensity.
Lavender started the better side and the confidence brought about by their extended unbeaten run was evident as they pressed and harried the boys in baby blue. The slope, the wind and a jelly-legged Arnie all contributed to Cubo having to withstand heavy pressure but the experienced centre-back pairing of Oli Watkins and James Ingle (combined age of 66 – a great year for English football) ensured that no clear cut opportunities materialised. That was until a cross from the right found its way to Lokomotiv’s centre forward and from 8 yards out a goal looked inevitable. However, Arnie, fresh from a late night fumble in Bermondsey was in no mood to have his clean sheet spoiled the way he had dirtied his companion’s but hours earlier. Like a walrus protecting its young, he made himself large and imposing and pulled off an outstanding save to keep the scores level.
This was the boost that Cubo needed and slowly they started to get a foothold in the game. Cubo arguably finished the half with the better chances to score, with Henry Neville – following good hold-up play from Andrew Pinnington – and Freddy Gorlitz – from a Tom Simmons long throw – both narrowly missing opportunities to sneak a half-time lead.
With the conditions reversed, Cubo built on the improvement shown shortly before the break and finally started to exert some pressure on Lavender. On a small pitch with both teams showing full commitment, clear cut opportunities were difficult to come by. It was no surprise then that it required a huge element of fortune for Cubo to eventually take the lead. James Ingle picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and having bundled through one challenge, let fly from just outside the area. The keeper appeared to have his low drive covered but a wicked deflection sent the ball spinning into the opposite corner to make it 1-0.
Lokomotiv Lavender did not allow their bad luck to deter them as they set about getting back on level terms. The defence was standing firm though with John Egan and Chris Bentley now supplementing the Watkins-Ingle axis after the excellent Fred and Adam Fox were substituted.
As Lavender threw more bodies forward, chances were inevitable, but another great save by Arnie and some wayward finishing kept Cubo’s slender lead in tact. Gaps opened on the break and Andrew Pinnington and Richard Crisp both had opportunities to put the game out of reach but failed to make the most of them.
Tempers threatened to boil over towards full-time as Lavender chased an equaliser and Cubo sought to protect their lead; in the end it was Cubo that managed to secure a valuable three points in a game that could have gone either way. The result leaves the Cubans top of the league after 4 games, albeit very early days with a raft of teams 2 points behind them.
Goal: James Ingle
MotM: James Ingle