Date: Saturday 31st October
Venue: Barn Elms
Starting line-up: Gaz Stewart, Jimmy Ingle, Ralph Wensley, Pete Woodhead, Greg Tett, Ben McGeown, Elliot Connolly, Martin Ansell, Oli Perkins (c), Tom Simmons, Harry Tulip
Subs: Tom Golding, Oli Watkins
View from the opposition: Virginia Water Match Report
Cubo welcomed Virginia Water to Barn Elms hoping to continue their recent good form. Waters have undergone a complete overhaul from the side that Cubo have struggled to beat in the past two seasons but continue to ride high in the league and had it not been for conceding late equalisers in key games they would be challenging the top of the table.
With the pitch in great nick the only issue was presented by Cubo’s ongoing ground-share with the geese of South West London who continue to leave their mark on the pitch. Cubo faced another reshuffle with Moisty stepping into the middle of the park in place of the absent Ian Clarke and Pete Woodhead coming back into the backline.
The home side made the perfect start when Simmo was played in the left-hand channel and he drew two defenders before pulling the ball back to Ben McGeown who swept a left-footed finish past the Waters keeper to make it 1-0 Cubo.
With Moisty and Elliot combining well in the middle of the park and Oli Perkins finding plenty of space in behind the Waters full backs Cubo were looking dangerous when they could get the ball down.
Waters frustration at conceding an early goal manifested itself in criticising the referee who, in their eyes, was the architect of various injustices. This was a shame as when they focused on playing they looked like an extremely good side. With pace on both flanks and a willingness to push men forward at every opportunity the away side were a real threat when the game got stretched and the Cubo full backs looked to be for a long 90 minutes. They thought they had equalised when the number 9 found himself in space 25 yards out and struck a shot that was destined for the top corner until Gaz somehow got a hand to it and tipped it over the bar. An outstanding save from the big man. At the other end Cubo felt that they should have had a penalty when Harry Tulip was first to a loose ball in the Waters area and had his feet taken away from under him but the referee waved away the Cubo protests.
A high-paced and high quality first half from both sides that warranted more than a solitary goal between the sides.
The second half continued along the same lines as the first with Waters bombing forward at every opportunity and Cubo looking dangerous on the break. With the game getting stretched Waters widemen were looking increasingly dangerous but Jimmy Ingle and Greg Tett, both playing out of position at full back, were doing sterling defensive work to keep the pacey Waters wingers at bay. With the game on a knife-edge Cubo needed another goal to put it to bed, unfortunately for them when the goal came it was for the visitors.
Waters number 9, who had been increasingly influential having dropped back into midfield, picked up the ball in a bit of space on the edge of the box and curled a great finish past Gaz and into the top corner to make it 1-1 with 20 minutes to go. The game continued in an end to end fashion with Cubo defending frantically at one moment before having chances to win the game the next. Harry Tulip enjoyed the best of these when good work out on the right by Oli Perkins saw a cross drop to the number 9 but he dragged his effort wide.
With the game entering injury time it looked like ending all level before some intricate play on the edge of the box released the Waters left back, who had been playing like a winger all game, and he calmly slotted past Gaz to send the away fans into a frenzy. The goal looked to have secured 3 points for the away side but this high quality encounter had one last moment of brilliance in it.
A ball into the box was not dealt with by the Waters backline and Simmo latched onto the ball before smashing the ball into the top right hand corner from the edge of the box to secure a deserved point for Cubo.
Having led for so long Cubo will be disappointed not to have secured 3 points against one of the better sides in the league, however the character shown to come back into the game having gone behind so late on was good to see.
The Cubans enter a tough run of fixtures over the coming weeks against all of their local South West London rivals, starting at Project Clapham this Saturday. If the Club is mount a serious challenge for the top four they will have to pick up results in those fixtures. Virginia Water look like a decent side and if they can focus on the football rather than bickering amongst themselves or with the ref they will surely be in the mix at the end of the season.
Goals: Ben McGeown, Tom Simmons
MOTM: Tom Simmons