Date: Saturday 7th November
Venue: Wandsworth Park
Starting line-up: Luke Arnold, Jonny Pat, Jonesy, Sam Cook, Crispy, Fred, Chris Bentley, Salty, Adam Fox, Oli Watkins, Joe Coffey
Sub: Alex Edwards
Kiwi FC welcomed AFC Cubo to a wet, windy and sloped Wandsworth Park in this top of the table clash, with both teams separated by just one point going into the game. Cubo went into the game having only won or lost games this season by just the one goal, so as expected a tight game ensued.
It’s safe to say conditions played a key role in this game, which really was a tale of two halves. With Cubo having won the toss, the referee (whose general officiating abilities shall not be commented on) decided to give Kiwi the choice of ends to much confusion – Kiwi chose to play into the wind and driving rain in the first half, a tactical ploy which may well have influenced the outcome of this match.
Cubo started strongly out of the blocks, forcing Kiwi into numerous errors at the back with their ‘genenpressing’ Klopp-esque style of play, the front four of Coff/Cook/Crispy/Fox keeping the Kiwi back line on their toes. Only a couple of rogue offside decisions prevented Coffey from springing through on goal.
When Kiwi eventually settled down, the bald number four sat deep at the base of the midfield really began to open play up, however a misplaced long cross-field ball from Cubo led to Kiwi taking the lead – the left back intercepted and launched a counter attack, with the ball ending up being pinged into the top left corner outside of Arnie’s desperate reach from the edge of the area. A wake up call for Cubo in a half they had dominated up until that point, and boy did they respond.
Within ten minutes Cubo were level. Fox, who had bamboozled the Kiwi right back time and again throughout the half, sent Bambi onto ice when cutting back inside on the left wing and played an inviting ball across the face of goal, with Pogo following in at the back post to slot in. 1-1 going into half time, with Crispy and Oli also having had chances to put Cubo ahead but only to be thwarted by the Kiwi keeper. Cubo dominating, could they maintain this level of intensity?
A quick change at HT saw solid debutant Sam Cook, playing in the no. 10 hole behind Coffey, replaced by Edwards – a straight swap for another debutant and fresh legs. The second half however was a different story… Kiwi’s choice of ends in the first half became an obvious advantage, with a tiring Cubo having used their one substitute and now powering up the hill into gale force winds. Under the cosh for all of the half, Arnie pulled off a number of outstanding saves to keep the ex-pats at bay.
On a rare occasion where Cubo troubled Kiwi in their half, the team in baby blue won a corner which Crispy once again whipped in – Pogo was only denied a second when his header was clawed around the post thanks to a stunning save from the Kiwi keeper. Unfortunately that was the best Cubo could muster, as with less than ten minutes to go a loose ball in the area was cannoning around and fell to a Kiwi who, on the edge of the area, hooked the ball back over his head with more than a hint of hope about it… with a rotten stroke of luck, the wind caught the ball and sent it over everyone’s heads and nestled in the back of the net.
Cubo were unable to push on to create the chances needed for a late equaliser, and perhaps with some more luck and clinical finishing in the first half Cubo could have put this game beyond the Kiwis’ reach. A narrow loss for the 2s, who will be looking to bounce back in their next game with a resounding win to get back in the mix of things at the top of the table.