Lineup: Hutchinson, Davies, de la Haye, Torr, Seymour, Cooper (Shaw), Brooks (Peel), Cross, Guttridge, Perkins, Chadwick
Goals: None scored
After four wins in a row and an excellent performance and result the week before against Spartans, Cubo were looking to extend their winning run against struggling Ripley Village. Making the trip across Surrey with the sun shining, the team were optimistic despite knowing that the pitch conditions were not ideal for the possession football that had been on display over recent weeks.
That optimism soon began to dwindle, as it was clear that it was going to be near impossible to get the ball on the deck and at times even get the ball under control on the hard, bobbly surface. Ripley, to their credit, knew exactly how to manage the conditions and began to bombard the Cubo back line with long high balls or cleverly winning free-kicks within the final third. Without an outstanding save from Hutchinson, who was able to tip the ball over after quickly back-tracking to his line following a clever lob by the Ripley forward, Cubo could easily have been behind early. Frustrations began to grow among the Cubo players, with these being directed towards the Ripley players, referee and even themselves – Guttridge and Torr early recipients of yellow cards for dissent. These frustrations were exacerbated after yet another free-kick was given away in the Cubo half and the following delivery could only be re-directed off Torr’s head straight to the Ripley forward in acres of space in the middle of the box, who took up on the opportunity to fire home the volley.
Cubo now found themselves in an unfamiliar position, behind in a game and not looking like their usual threatening selves. A couple of half chances fell to the feet of Cross and Brooks on the edge of the box but there was very little of note until the final few minutes of the half. A flurry of corners, saw one delivery land on Torr’s head and falling to the feet of Guttridge / de la Haye in the six yard, who both tried sliding the ball into the bottom corner only to see the Ripley keeper pull off a great save and tip it round the post, the resulting corner then landed on Guttridge’s head but the ball sailed high and wide. The half time whistle followed shortly after, with a despondent Cubo team walking on the pitch knowing that things had to change if they were to get back into this game.
The talk at the break revolved around every single player upping their game, fighting for more of the second balls and trying to work out the best way to play on this tricky pitch. It was also mentioned that the constant involvement with the referee and Ripley players was not going to help out cause, particularly as Ripley were already starting to time waste in the first half. The second half began in a more positive manner, Chadwick and Perkins began to find the ball more and Cooper and Brooks started to find themselves in more space to begin the attacks. The first chance of the second half fell to Cubo, after the ball was moved quickly to the right hand side to the space behind the Ripley full back, and the resulting cross fell to the feet of Brooks at the back post – his first time shot was unfortunately well saved.
A couple of changes were made by both teams, for Cubo, Peel replaced Brooks and Shaw came on for Cooper. Unfortunately for Cubo, the game turned into a stop start affair, with the referee doing nothing to stop Ripley slowing the game down and wasting time. This meant Cubo could not build up any momentum, with the only chance falling to Cross who found himself bearing down on goal only for an unfortunate bounce of the ball allowing the Ripley defender to get a foot on the ball before he could get a shot off. With 10 minutes to go, an unbelievable decision by the referee to allow the game to carry on after the offside Ripley forward ran towards the ball only to decide not to touch it when he was half a yard way, lead to the ball being played over the Cubo back line and another neat finish on the half volley by the Ripley striker – 2 nil down and very little time remaining.
Matters only got worse for Cubo in the final 10 minutes, with Torr finding himself receiving a second yellow for more “dissent”, which the ref later agreed was not worthy of a card, and a few minutes later Davies followed him back to the changing rooms after he was slightly late to a 50/50 challenge. The game was called to a halt shortly after, an afternoon that can only be described as a very bad day at the office for Cubo. Credit to Ripley, who thoroughly deserved the win, knowing exactly how to play effectively on that pitch and to see out the game in the second half.
The key now for Cubo, who still sit top of the table despite others below them having plenty of games in hand, is to respond next week against Royal Holloway – a trait that has been evident following every loss so far this season.