Line-up: Hutchinson, Laing, Torr, Wensley, Seymour, Frost, Brooks (Dickens), Tierney (Golding), Tulip (Chadwick), Perkins, Guttridge
Goals: Guttridge x 2, Tulip
Looking to bounce back after a disappointing result last time out versus title challengers Battersea, Cubo faced Worcester Park on a less rainy day than the return fixture in 2018.
With several regulars missing, this presented a good opportunity for some to get the minutes they had deserved after waiting patiently on the bench in previous games. Cubo knew that they would have to turn up and be switched on if they were to overcome this Worcester Park team, despite them being on a bad run of form of late. Unfortunately, as against Battersea last week, Cubo found it hard to stick to the game plan and were unable to string together a sequence of passes in the first ten minutes. Therefore, Cubo tried a more direct route with balls being played over the Worcester Park full-backs to Tulip & Perkins on either wing, and this brought some success with several balls being played across the six yard box and presenting several challenges to the Worcester Park defence. That being said, it wasn’t all Cubo in the first quarter of the game, with the Worcester Park forwards regularly finding space between the Cubo midfield and defence, only to fall short when it came to the final pass / shot.
The game now began to settle down, with one moment of magic seeing Perkins run through the middle of the pitch and thread a perfect cross back across goal where the onrushing Guttridge was met with a simple volley from 2 yards out, with no goalkeeper in front of him. Guttridge unfortunately missed, clearly feeling the effects of having the shits the day before. Not long after though, a a stray ball was played upfield and found itself between the Worcester Park centre half and the on rushing goalkeeper, and following a moment of confusion where the centre back rolled the ball back towards and past the keeper, Guttridge was able to beat the wrong-footed GK to the ball and slide it into the back of the empty net to quickly forget about the horror miss. A goal had been handed to Cubo on plate and should have resulted in them pressing on for more immediately, however, from the kick-off Worcester Park won a throw in on the right hand side and quickly played it to their number 9, who was able to play a quick one two around the Cubo centre back and fire into the bottom left corner from a tight angle – scores back level!
While still finding it difficult to get the ball down and play, the threat down the Cubo wings was ever present, with Torr and Wensley playing some excellent balls over the top and the midfield three being told to find Perkins and Tulips feet as quickly as possible. It was Brooks in midfield who was able to prevent an onrushing Worcester Park midfielder with a superbly timed challenge that allowed the ball to be played to Tulip on the left edge of the box before taking a touch, steadying himself and slotting superbly into the bottom right hand corner and restore the lead for the Cubans. Several more chances fell to Cubo following the second goal, however, soon after Tulip once again found himself through on goal after pouncing on a loose ball with just the WP defender to beat, after being beaten by the bounce of the ball, the home player caught Tulip on the right leg with a studs up challenge which wiped the forward out. Penalty given and unfortunately for Tulip this meant the end to his afternoon, with scans later showing a broken leg that will leave him out for the majority of the season (fingers crossed he can get back and add to his impressive goal tally), how not even a yellow card was shown we will never know! This presented Guttridge the chance to again make up for his horrendous miss earlier and he calmly converted from the spot to give Cubo a more comfortable lead heading into the break.
The second half began and carried on for most of the next 45 minutes in the same manner, with Worcester Park having plenty of possession and trying to get back into the game, however the Cubo team were resolute, professional and withstood all the pressure. Mitch Seymour optimised the Cubo second half, allowing the right winger no time and space, putting in some hard but fair challenges and coming out on top time and time again. There were minimal chances to talk about for either side, although Chadwick was probably the most threatening from a Cubo perspective, beating his man several times down the left. A couple of midfield substitutions were made, with Dickens and Golding slotting in effortlessly following top shifts from Brooks and Tierney. The only real threat to Hutchinson’s goal was in the last five minutes where a header from a set piece cannoned back off the bar, but all in all Cubo coped with everything that was thrown at them.
The referee brought the game to a halt with the score line unchanged since the end of the first half. This is a performance Cubo can be proud of, responding to the loss the week before and holding on to a lead comfortably, which may not have happened last season. With teams around them playing each other over the coming weeks, Cubo should be looking for maximum points and closing in on those at the top of the league.
MoM – Mitch Seymour. As discussed, he optimised the Cubo performance – consistent, reliable and up for the battle as always.