Date: Saturday 13th August 2016
Venue: Sean Devereux Park, Yateley
Team lineup: Whetton, Torr, Wensley (C), Woodhead (de la Haye), Frost, Cooper (Harris), Connolly, McGeown (Findleton), Tulip, Ansell, Simmons
Goals: Ansell (2), Tulip (2), Frost (1)
AFC Cubo got their 2016/17 Surrey Elite Intermediate League season off to an emphatic start with a great comeback victory away to Yateley United. A distinct lack of weddings, spa weekends and holidays meant a large squad could be chosen from, including the recently stepped down Manager Ben McGeown, who took the opportunity of his first game as player to turn up just before kick off.
With a lack of pre-season friendlies, it was difficult for Tulip & Ansell (2/3 of Cubo’s youthful and good looking new management structure) to know their strongest line up – with the duo opting to give debuts to Charlie Cooper in midfield and Bill Whetton between the sticks. On a hot summer’s day in Hampshire on what is always a great pitch to play on, it would be interesting to see how the Cubans would equip themselves against an always well-organised Yateley side.
Within 10 minutes, Cubo found themselves on the wrong end of 2 goals. The first coming from a slight positioning mix up as Yateley’s striker was able to find his run untracked into the edge of the penalty area, before half volleying a clinical finish into the side netting from a tight angle. Cubo needed to settle into the game quickly, but another defensive mix up from a back pass allowed the same striker to nip in unsighted and sneak the ball past Whetton. Yateley looked a threat every time the ball went forward, and Cubo were all over the place.
Following a few attacking corners, Cubo began to move the ball better, and a half chance for the dangerous Ansell following a brilliant through ball from Ryan Frost gave them their first proper sight of goal. The remainder of the half found Frost getting plenty of the ball at left back and moving it well between himself, Ansell and Simmons. Numerous chances followed but what was noticeable was the tightening of the Cubo defence and space being opened up by the Yateley midfield, which Cubo hadn’t found a way to exploit. Yateley still looked dangerous on the counter attack though, which kept captain Wensley and his centre back partner Woodhead on their toes.
Cubo began the 2nd half as they ended the first, moving the ball quickly to Tulip and Ansell via Frost and Torr with Elliot Connolly dictating play from centre midfield, ably assisted by Charlie Cooper intercepting Yateley attacks and setting up the next counter. Cubo had numerous chances through Simmons and Ansell, with one particular counter attack involving Simmons ending with the ball finding it’s way to Tulip, who cracked a long range strike off the bar from 25 yards. Within 10 minutes, the ball again found it’s way to Tulip on the edge of the box, who held it up while Ansell timed a perfect run forward to collect and bury the ball in the net through the keeper’s legs. This was swiftly followed up by excellent work from McGeown who played a neat ball through to Tulip, who beat one man and knocked the equaliser in off the post. With the 3 subs of de la Haye, Findleton and Harris slotting in perfectly the game turned into wave after wave of attack, and a swift move up the left saw Findleton find Frost in the box, who showed great composure to beat his man and pop a lovely finish into the top corner. Ansell added a 4th after dancing through 4 players on the edge of the box and finishing clinically, before Tulip added a 5th doing the same from the other side of the pitch again off the post to put the game to bed.
A late penalty (though a clear foul outside the box) caused a few jitters as it gave momentum to Yateley to pile the pressure on in the final few minutes, but Cubo held out for a well-deserved 5-3 win that showed glimpses of counter-attacking football from seasons gone by. This was an excellent result against a Yateley side who look much improved from last season
All players stepped up to come back from the early shock, with newcomers Whetton, Cooper, Findleton and Harris showing great potential.
MoM – shared between Ansell for his all-star attacking performance that Yateley struggled to contain, and Frost for his solid effort at left back and attacking nous after moving upfield.