Lineup: Hutchinson, Davies, de la Haye , Wood, Shedwick (Coffey), Pyke, Tierney (Brooks), Peel, Tulip, Male (Patterson), Kelsall
Goals: Kelsall, Peel
Cubo looked to continue their good early season form in stifling hot conditions at Southfields, welcoming league stalwarts Ripley Village to the Aspire Academy. For the 3rd game in a row however the lineups and squad was again different, but equally as strong – which is a testament to the summer recruitment and strength in depth at the club for the 2018/19 season.
Club veterans Shedwick, Pyke and Patterson returned to the squad, adding energy and composure to a relatively fresh-faced looking line up. With few striking options, new signing Male lined up on the left side of a front 3 with Tulip through the middle and Kelsall offering right-sided width.
The game started at a slower pace than the previous 3 fixtures, as both teams struggled on the heavy Southfields 3G under hot sunshine, immediately it was clear that Ripley would channel their play through their left back, who possessed a wand of a left foot that could switch play quickly. The Cubans kept a strong back line however and were rarely flustered, with Wood and captain de la Haye distributing the ball across both sides of the pitch with ease, and Davies and Shedwick beginning attacking moves at will. It was Ripley who had the best chance of the first 20 minutes however, hitting the post with a well struck free kick that had Hutchinson beaten.
As the half grew on, Cubo grew into the game, getting particular joy down the left side after Male and Tulip switched positions to offer more physicality down the middle and pace out wide with Davies in support. This resulted in two great chances for Tulip, one of which struck the post after a superb tipped save, and numerous chances for Male, Kelsall, and Peel as Cubo began pegging Ripley back into their own box on repeat with Tierney at the source of most play. After numerous close shaves, Tulip again beat his right back on another attack and squared the ball across to Kelsall, who calmly shaped up to slot the ball into the top corner on the volley – 1-0 Cubo and half time.
2nd half brought a permanent switch to LW for Tulip and Cubo began permanently switching play out to both sides of the pitch, as both wingers took on and beat their man time and time again, coinciding with Peel finding more and more space, the baby blues were now dominating. A few chances spurned added more frustration, particularly from Tulip, but it was inevitable that the goal would come. 20 minutes into the half, Pyke found Tulip on the left, who played a first time ball over the top to Peel, who dealt well with an irregular bounce to take the ball to the line, beat his man, then round the keeper to slot coolly home for 2-0.
With fresh legs added to the pitch, Cubo continued to control the play, with Patterson going through on goal to cross for what was almost 3-0 – the ball hitting the post from a defenders mis-kick. However, against the run of play, Ripley’s left back found himself in space, and unleashed a rocket of a shot from 25 yards, which evaded the hands of Hutchinson into the middle of the net. After cruising to 2-0, Cubo were now up against a motivated Ripley side, and numerous corners and long balls were well defended by de la Haye’s defence, despite a few scary moments.
A 2-1 win with every man playing his part despite the heat and tired legs, but 9 points from 12 to start the season is a Cubo record in this league, with both teams shaping up well for a good season. Next week sees the Cubans head to Chessington, a team who they just couldn’t beat last season in 3 attempts.
MoM – again a close one, but Harry Peel was the difference maker in the 2nd half after a slow start, bagging the winning goal and always looking the threat.