Line-up: Hutchinson, Seymour, Laing, Torr, de la Haye, Peel, Shaw (Cooper), Cross (Tierney), Chadwick, Perkins (Brooks), Guttridge
Goals: Guttridge (2), Perkins, Chadwick
After 12 points from 15 in 2019, Cubo found themselves back in title contention and on a warm winter afternoon they welcomed the only title challenger they had left to face to the Aspire centre – Spartans Youth. The Cubans were looking to avenge the defeat earlier in the season when they simply didn’t turn up for 45 mins, and manager Torr was able to name a very strong 16-man squad, with only elder statesmen Tulip, Findleton and Wensley missing.
After a strong result but dodgy performance the previous week, it was clear that the team needed to up it from minute 1 against young, skilful and energetic Spartans side who are on an upwards trajectory. To the lads on the sideline it was clear after 10 minutes that they had, with Cubo enjoying all of the early possession and chances. Chadwick came closest with with two snapshots in the box that were straight at the keeper or just wide, with Cross also driving forward on a number of occasions but choosing to pass instead of shoot. Across the pitch the passing, tackling and chance creation was excellent and the full backs of Seymour and Laing unflustered, with Torr in particular finding lots of time on the ball to spray passes through to the wide men who were getting joy against their opposing full backs. Cubo were also winning the physical battle, led as usual by Shaw who had unfortunately found his way into the referee’s book with one fierce tackle that stopped a Spartans counter attack.
After 25 minutes the first goal came, with the ball finding its way via Cross to Harry Peel in the penalty box, who attempted to break free of 3 defenders but was pulled back by at least 2 of them (the playmaker’s strength still meant he got the final pass off). Penalty awarded and penalty put away by Guttridge for 1-0 and well deserved for Cubo, not long after, a great header from Perkins cracked the post as the home side threatened to go out of sight. As the half drew to a close however, it was Spartans who began to threaten, finding pockets of space that had otherwise been shut down by the Cubo midfield, with one through ball finding the Spartans striker who blazed over, and then a goalmouth scramble saw Torr miraculously stop one shot going in and Hutchinson holding steady in goal to close out the half 1-0. Half time chat was about getting back to the first 30 mins performance, not panicking and allowing more chances to come.
The 2nd half saw the team do just that, turning in one of their best 45’s of the season, completely shutting down the Spartans attack whilst doggedly creating numerous chances. The 2nd goal came after 15 minutes from Peel’s corner, with Torr’s iron-core cranium heading at goal, only for the rebound to fall to Chadwick who finished from close range to make it 2-0. The 3rd goal followed very quickly and it was Torr, playing one of those through balls from centre half which this time found the path of Chadwick’s run superbly, who took two touches before drilling an inch-perfect low drive across to Perkins who had timed his run perfectly to slot home for 3-0 – what a counter!
A raft of changes from Tulip on the sidelines completely changed the midfield 3 adding energy to an already dominant midfield battle. Tierney, Brooks and Cooper carried on where the other 3 had left off and the team continued to push, and another Peel free kick from the left found its way to ‘Simon Cox’ Guttridge in the box, who composed himself to bang his 2nd goal into the side netting, the striker had found an extra spark during the game, thanks mainly to his beloved Pompey squandering a 3-0 lead earlier in the day.
On and off-field verbal squabbling were the main talking points of the last 15 as Cubo saw the game out, with other results seeing the baby blue army go top of the Surrey Elite with 6 games left to play. Top performances all round and another clean sheet for Hutchinson and his back 4. Other teams have games in hand but all Cubo can do is keep putting points on the board and hope for the best. A top performance!
MoM – polar opposite to the previous week, this time there were a host of MoM contenders but it was Torr, who didn’t put a foot wrong defensively, got a clean sheet and had a key role in 2 goals. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Special shoutout to Shaw, landing from skiing 2 hours before KO and playing on with a yellow despite some dickheads breaking into his car. And to Davies and Frost who were unlucky not to get on, but know they have a big role to play in the last 6 games.