Date: Saturday 7th November
Venue: Tooting and Mitcham United FC – 3G Pitch
Starting Line: Gaz Stewart, Alan Clarke, Jimmy Ingle, Ralph Wensley, Pete Woodhead, Chris Pyke, Elliot Connolly, Ben McGeown, Ryan Shedwick, Harry Tulip, Oli Perkins (c)
Subs: Marcus Torr, Brad Wilkie
Cubo climbed to 6th in the league with a hard fought win over local rivals Tooting Bec. This was a far more closely fought game than the scoreline might suggest but in the end it was the difference in attacking prowess that settled this game.
With Moisty yet to recover from the injury picked up last week and Ian Clark yet to recover from poncing around golf courses Rufus Shedwick and DJ Pyke walked straight back into the line-up, evidence of the strength in depth available this year. Alan Clarke also returned at right back with Jimmy Ingle retaining his place in the 1’s following two solid performances since stepping up from the 2’s.
It was the home side who dominated possession at the start of the game with the midfield three looking after the ball well, as Cubo were forced into chasing the ball down for much of the first ten minutes. Tooting’s game plan was clearly based on getting their pacey wide men in behind the Cubo full backs and with the midfield being granted plenty of time to pick their passes Alan and Jingle were being put under a lot of pressure in the early stages.
Cubo’s defensive discipline remained intact and they soon showed their threat at the other end of the pitch. Oli Perkins picked the ball up just inside the Tooting half, and spun away from his marker before slipping a perfectly weighted through ball to Harry Tulip who finished past the onrushing keeper. 1-0 Cubo.
In fairness the goal had come against the run of play as Tooting had dominated possession up to that point but it seemed to deflate the home side and invigorate the visitors as Cubo then enjoyed four good opportunities to score again shortly afterwards.
Firstly Oli Perkins rounded the keeper, leaving himself with an open goal bar one recovering defender stood on the line but the normally clinical skipper went for the top corner and missed by a distance. Ben McGeown then should have done better when an Alan Clarke cross from the right made its way all the way across the box but he wastefully blasted wide. Oli Perkins then had a chance to make amends for his earlier miss when a long clearance from Gaz Stewart left the Tooting full back on his arse and gifted Oli a clear run in on goal. As with his first chance he almost had too much time to think about what to do and his tame finish was easily saved by the Bec keeper. Had he looked up and squared the ball Harry Tulip was on for a tap-in. In fairness to the skipper he had already filled his quota for assists for the season with his pass for the first goal, something which even the normally vocal Tulip seemed to accept at the time given his muted reaction to not receiving the ball. Alan Clarke then put a free header high and wide when a Perkins cross picked him out in acres of space in the Bec penalty area.
At the other end Gaz was forced into action when the Bec number 7 worked some room for himself on the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that was moving all over the place in the air but the big man did well to palm it away and collect the ball at the second time of asking.
Just when it seemed that Cubo would be ruing their misses at half time they bagged a second goal. A fierce drive from Perkins was too hot to hold for the Bec keeper and Ben McGeown was following in to smash a finish into the back of the net to make ti 2-0 Cubo.
Having held a two goal lead at the same venue against the same opposition last season Cubo knew they would have a tough 45 minutes ahead of them as Tooting have proved over the years that they are not a side that roll over. Having clearly received a lengthy rollocking at half-time the home side finally emerged for the second half with point to prove.
Cubo immediately threatened to add a third when the rampaging Alan Clarke charged through a couple of challenges and unleashed a dipping drive that thudded off of the bar. The second half continued in much the same way of the first, with Tooting enjoying plenty of possession without really looking like getting in behind the Cubo backline.
The home sides biggest threat was coming from the number 8 who was showing the ability to carry the ball from deep and beat a man, however luckily for DJ Pyke who had been chasing his shadow and unluckily for Tooting he had to be removed from the action having picked up an injury.
With the home side looking to build up some momentum the wind was once again taken out of their sails by a piece of attacking quality from the Cubo front-line. Picking the ball up in the inside right channel Harry Tulip beat one man and as he drifted across the pitch hammered a superb left foot strike inside the keeper’s left hand post. 3-0 Cubo.
Despite the scoreline Tooting continued to push forward with real urgency and had a couple of guilt-edged opportunities to pull a goal back. First a free header in the box was put high and wide but this was followed by an even clearer chance when the Bec player had a free volley on the Cubo six yard box but he somehow managed to put it wide, he’ll be having nightmares about missing that one.
Cubo had chances to extend their lead but Oli Perkins, by this stage experiencing a crisis of confidence following his earlier misses, was again unable to beat the Bec keeper. Ben Mc also then missed when it looked easier to score having been picked out by a peach of a cross from Perkins but he put his header wide with the goal at his mercy.
A very good win for the Cubo who managed to score at important stages of the game to take it away from their gritty opponents. Cubo’s prowess in the final third was the difference between the two sides in the end, as the home side, missing their main attacking threats due to injury, did not offer the same threat and struggled to get behind the Cubo defence all game.
Next up for the Cubans are table toppers Balham who are flying at the moment, and will not need any motivation given that we inflicted their last defeat on them back in September.
Goals – Harry Tulip 2, Bennie Mac
MOTM – Harry Tulip – two goals and a constant menace to the Tooting backline, the frontman even found time to win a header that wasn’t a flick-on.