Lineup: Hutchinson, Laing, de la Haye, Torr (Cooper), Davies (Tierney), Seymour, Peel, Cross, Guttridge, Perkins, Chadwick (Tulip)
Following the unbelievable 13-0 win against West End Village a week earlier, Cubo were in good spirits as they travelled across Surrey as league leaders to face Merrow.
With several new faces in their squad from the previous year, Cubo knew that they would be in for a tough away test and all the talk in the changing room prior to kick-off was around starting quickly and taking the game to the opposition. Unfortunately, as the game got underway, it was Merrow who started the brighter, with the Cubo defence being put under pressure from a combination of good wide play and pace in behind.
With 10 minutes on the clock, Cubo had not been able to get started and struggled to put together a sequence of 3 passes or more. It got worse soon after, with a scuffed clearance from Torr finding the Merrow central midfielder who was able to play a ball over the top of the back four, forcing Hutchinson to leave his box and attempt to clear the ball before the Merrow attacker could latch on to it. Unfortunately for Hutchinson and Cubo, the clearance cannoned back off the forward and luckily fell at his feet, leaving an empty net and Merrow deservedly ahead.
The remainder of the half followed in a similar manner, with the majority of possession being gifted straight back to Merrow at every opportunity, which resulted in several good chances being passed up by the home team. Towards the end of the half, Cubo did manage to hold off the Merrow pressure, with Seymour tirelessly working in the middle of the pitch and the forwards being to produce some of the football that had been on display throughout the first half of the season – one move in particular deserves a mention, with Cross and Peel moving the ball quickly in the centre of park, allowing Peel to find some space and play a pinpoint cross field ball over to Perkins on the right hand side, who was then able to lay it off to Laing to put the ball onto Guttridge’s head and agonisingly over the bar. Other than that there was little to report in the way of Cubo chances and the team were glad to come in at half time only the one goal down.
Every player knew that they could up their game and that they had to if they wanted to get anything from the match. The second half began as the first ended, with the the ball on the edge of the Cubo box and a resulting Merrow free-kick. Luckily, the reaction that was required followed soon after and Cubo started to get some luck out wide and particularly down the right-hand side, with Perkins, Chadwick & Guttridge all regularly interchanging and giving the Merrow defence their first real test of the afternoon. Unlike the first half, the game became an evenly matched contest, with several half chances falling to both teams – including one for Perkins from a Peel cross.
With an hour gone, a freekick was awarded after a clumsy challenge on the edge of the Merrow box on Torr. After a brief discussion between Peel & Cross over who should take it, Peel stepped up and put it whiskers over the bar, followed by his claim “if the goal was full size, that would have gone in!”. As time ticked by, it felt as if Cubo needed something to happen soon if they were to come away with at least a point and their reply followed soon after, with a deep free-kick on the right flank being swung over towards the back post by Peel and on to the laces of Torr / the Merrow defender, with the volley beating the goalkeeper and ending up in the roof of the net….1-1, game on!
Now back in the game and with a quarter of the game to go, Cubo believed they could nick the three points and brought on fresh legs in Tierney and Cooper. Chances feel to both teams as the game moved into its’ final minutes, with Cross firing at the Merrow goalkeeper for Cubo and de la Haye & Hutchinson marshalling the Cubo team when defending several free-kicks and corners. The final few minutes saw Tulip bring himself on to see if he could stretch his (dead) legs and create something, but unfortunately there was not enough time and the referee brought the game to an end with the teams all square – a point that the Cubo team can’t be too disappointed with against a strong and organised Merrow team.
A big month lies ahead, travelling to Ripley next followed by two vital games against Chessington & Westside, two teams who will also be fighting for the title come the end of the season.
MoM – Harry Peel. Constantly wanting & getting on the ball, creating chances from both open play and his dangerous set pieces. It was probably a good thing that the goal “wasn’t full size”, otherwise we wouldn’t have heard the end of it.