Lineup: Hutchinson, Seymour, Wensley, Torr, Davies (Frost), Shaw, Tierney (Connolly), Cross, Guttridge, Chadwick, Tulip
Goals: Tierney, Tulip (2)
Cubo made it 3 wins in a row on a very, very wet November afternoon, welcoming ex-Combined Counties Worcester Park to the Aspire centre. The lads were met with warm, sunny conditions on arrival for dugout duty, but it wasn’t long before the storm clouds gathered just in time for the warm up, and things only got worse from there.
Managers Torr and Tulip were able to name another strong squad and lineup, with Connolly taking a well-earned rest and the impressing Seymour slotting back in to the defence. Facing an unknown quantity in WP, pre-match chat was all about playing it safe and scoping out the opposition before using the width early in attack. By the time kick-off arrived, the monsoon had also started and both teams had to contain with a relentless downpour in the early exchanges. WP’s strengths were clearly in energetic youth and it was the pacy right winger who gave Davies an early scare with one sprint. Gradually though, the Cubans grew into the game with Cross and Chadwick showing great ability in driving at their man.
Cubo were finding space and chances began to come. First Tulip had a goalbound volley cannon off a back-peddling defender, and Guttridge had two close efforts from set pieces, Chadwick, Cross and Tierney were all threatening. It was the no. 9 Guttridge though who played a lovely 1-2 with Chadwick on the right before driving into the edge of the box and playing a crisp cross along the corridor of uncertainty in the penalty box to find Tierney, who scrambled the ball off about 3 body parts into the net to make it 1-0 Cubo. Soon after, Guttridge found himself clean through on goal, setting himself well and looking to arc the ball nicely round the keeper, but the striker saw his effort go centimetres wide. Tierney then went clean through and round the keeper only to sky the ball out of the Southfields cage.
With conditions now horrendous and the all-weather pitch struggling to cope with the surface water which was trapping the ball, players were becoming weighed down by the excess water and boots starting to weigh twice as much. WP found themselves level when the central midfielder, picking the ball up 30 yards out, drove a hard low shot straight at Hutchinson who adopted the classic cricket fielder position to gather the shot, but with the ball skidding all over the keeper saw the ball bounce off his gloves and into the goal. 1-1 and WP’s first effort on target saw them level. Half time came and the referee gathered both managers to ask if they were comfortable for the game to continue, and given the competitive nature of the first half it was only right to keep going following the wringing of soaking shirts.
The 2nd half was a lot more balanced with the rain relenting a little but ponds remaining on one side of the pitch. WP were threatening more and more from corners but Cubo were still getting the lions share of the attacking joy, with Tulip cutting inside and drilling a low shot which was saved by the keeper, only for Chadwick’s follow up to be offside. With Shaw snuffing out all danger from midfield and the defence, led by Torr and Wensley well, remaining resolute, Cubo remained relatively solid as the half went on. Connolly replaced Tierney (who had ran his arse off) and immediately began shifting the ball out to the wingers early, but it was a brilliant counter attack that took the Cubans back in front. Running after the ball following a cleared corner, Cross proceeded to run the length of the pitch chased by 4 WP players who couldn’t keep up with him, before he cut inside and drilled the ball across to Tulip who controlled and finished through the keeper’s legs. 2-1 Cubo and a goal that was all down to Matt Cross.
Cubo withstood a bit more pressure and introduced Frost who offered some natural width at left back to keep the ball in dangerous attacking areas. But it was Chadwick – a menace to WP’s left side all day – who once again drove at the full back and smashed a fizzing cross into the box which evaded all defenders except Tulip who again controlled and slotted home to grab his 9th of the season and close the game out. There was still time for WP’s 2nd shot on target as their forward drove through and looked to have slotted home into the bottom corner, only for Hutchinson to redeem himself with a brilliant low save to keep the game in check as full time came.
Another great win in mental weather to mark two professional performances in two weeks, but credit to Worcester Park who are a good young side that will only improve. The lads were all buzzing to keep the run going as we get into the tricky winter months, but every man played a key role yet again.
Special shout out to the Southfields social club who let the lads in for post-match beers.
MoM – Chadwick just edged Cross with both playing key attacking roles. The marauding wide man deserved it after leaving his opposite numbers with nightmares to contend with for the rest of the weekend