Lineup: Hutchinson, Laing, Torr (Frost), de la Haye, Davies, Connolly, Cross (Seymour), Peel, Chadwick (Golding), Perkins, Tulip
After reaching the semi-final of the league cup in the 2017/18 season, the Cubans were hoping for another solid run with a chance of some silverware this year. And it was a replay of said semi-final fixture that would kick off this year’s campaign, as perennial bogey team Chessington welcomed the baby blue army to the Kingston Uni pitches on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon.
Cubo were able to name a very strong team and on a flat but compact pitch, but both teams started fairly cagily, with the stand out player in the early stages being Chessington’s pacy forward Marcel, who was stretching both the full backs and midfield with his dribbling on the ball. Cubo were struggling to get a foothold in the game with KC picking up the pockets of space in midfield and warding off any threats from Cubo’s wingers.
It was Cubo though who, against the run of play, found the opening goal as some intricate passing from defence to midfield found Matt Cross who played a brilliant first time angled pass from the halfway line down towards the onrushing Tulip. KC’s full back was unable to read the pass and Tulip found himself 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, but instead of going for goal he played the ball across for the supporting Chadwick who took one touch and slotted home. 1-0 Cubo and a chance to settle into the game.
That chance wasn’t properly afforded to the Cubans though, as a simple through ball to KC’s onrushing striker saw Laing, Torr and de la Haye all get caught up with the forward to successfully clear the ball. To the away team’s bewilderment however, the referee pointed to the spot, and despite protestations from every player the penalty was given. It was KC’s danger man Marcel who stuck an unstoppable penalty into the side netting, and the game moved to half time as a fairly scrappy 1-1.
Despite half time intentions to do the simple things well, Cubo simply couldn’t get a foothold in the game and found themselves 2nd best in too many areas. Despite this, clear cut chances for both teams were at a premium, and it wasn’t until KC’s winger found himself with space outside of the box to stick a looping long ranger over Hutchinson’s head and off the bar to make it 2-1. A great goal albeit a placement in the goal the player didn’t look to mean…. The game ticked on in a scrappy manner until a KC corner was headed goalwards and stopped superbly by the outstretched upper arm of….Rob Davies. Not deliberate as the full back clearly tried to move his shoulder in front of the ball but failed, so the inevitable red card followed and Cubo’s job was made even harder. Marcel stepped up again and fired into the same place, however the ref called for another penalty to be taken given another KC player had practically ran to the penalty spot as well. Marcel stepped up and…. fired 5 yards wide!
Smelling blood, Cubo then went into all-out attack mode with 10-men, peppering the KC backline as the game switched to an end-to-end attack. But it wasn’t to be, and this year’s cup campaign was over at the first hurdle. Good luck to Chessington who are a very strong and solid outfit across the pitch, we’ll get you eventually.