Date: Saturday 19th December
Starting line-up: Gaz Stewart, Brad Wilkie, Jimmy Ingle, Marcus Torr, Jonny Patterson, Elliot Connolly, Chris Pyke, Ben McGeown, Tom Simmons, Oli Perkins, Harry Tulip
Subs: Martin Shardlow, Dave Wall, Martin Ansell, Oli Watkins
Goal: Martin Ansell (pen)
Xmas is the season of giving and Cubo showed their festive side as they gifted Project Clapham 3 points with a lacklustre performance at Barn Elms.
Whilst the poor condition of the pitch, particularly in the centre of the park, did not help the hosts they were a yard off the pace throughout against an in-form Clapham who showed why they are mounting a credible title challenge this year.
An even start to the game was punctuated by goal that came from what should have been an easily defendable situation. A contested throw in was launched down the line where the tricky Clapham centre forward, who gave Cubo problems all game, shrugged off the challenge of Torr before squaring to the Clapham right winger who bundled it home to make it 1-0.
With neither side able to build any type of momentum on the tricky surface this was not one for the purists with both sides having to play the pitch as much as each other. Of the two sides it was Clapham who looked the more up for the contest as they dominated the second ball and could have extended the lead before the half if it wasn’t for some superb last ditch defending from Torr.
At the other end Cubo’s best moments were coming down the left hand side where Tulip was once again giving a Surrey Elite full back a torrid time. Unfortunately Cubo were unable to make the most of his ability to get to the byline where a combination of not having anyone in the box and solid defending by the Clapham centre halves kept the Cubans at bay.
Cubo knew more was needed from them if they were to get something from the game but unfortunately they were unable to deliver on this as they found themselves two goals down when a kick from the Clapham keeper sailed all the way through to the Cubo box and a mix-up between Gaz and Ingle gifted the Clapham winger a simple finish.
Before Cubo had time to process being two goals down they found themselves a further goal behind when the Clapham number 6, who in fairness dominated the midfield exchanges, was given time to turn and deliver a floated cross to the back post for the right-winger to put beyond Gaz for his second and Clapham’s third.
Changes were made to bring a bit of extra bite to the home side with Martin Shardlow coming on in the centre of the park for Ben McGeown and Wall coming on for Simmo.
The changes brought a bit of extra vim to the home side with Shardlow immediately bringing some extra aggression to the home side and Cubo thought they had grabbed a lifeline when a cross from the left found Wall but the Clapham keeper pulled off a blinding point-blank save to protect his clean-sheet.
With Cubo pushing on they were always going to be vulnerable to the counter attack and this proved to be the case. A break down the left saw Clapham queuing up in the box and the number 9 slammed the ball past Gaz to well and truly put the game to bed.
With the game dead and buried Cubo finally secured a consolation when the ref awarded a spot-kick for a handball in the area which Moisty, making a welcome return from injury, coolly slotted into the top corner.
An extremely disappointing result for the Cubans who would have seen this game as a chance to cement their place in the top five. Unfortunately they were second best across the pitch, failing to match the competitiveness of their opponents or adapt to the attacking threat they faced.
Clapham look like an improved outfit from last year, showing far greater durability in the defensive areas and they will be in the mix for the title if they can keep the side together.
Cubo now face a tricky Xmas/New Years period with away fixtures against Horsley and Balham.