Line-up: Hutchinson, Tierney, Laing (Golding), Torr, Wensley, Brooks (Frost), Cooper, Cross (de la Haye), Chadwick, Perkins, Guttridge
Goals: Guttridge, Chadwick
With 55mph winds behind us, the Cubo team travelled across Surrey to West End Village. Unfortunately their usual convoy of cars was broken up after Cooper had to pull up on the hard shoulder, confused and worried about a French warning signal on his dashboard, which after taking a long look under the bonnet he realised it was trying to tell him that he had been driving with the handbrake on for the last 10 minutes. Back on the road, they arrived to meet the rest of the team, who had already inspected the ‘bobbly’ pitch and discovered that the wind was blowing directly along the length of the pitch, from one goal to the other.
Nevertheless, the warm up led by Tierney was intense and of high quality and the chat before the game revolved around starting well and keeping the ball on the deck. Wensley won the toss, and under the instructions of Hutchinson, decided to play with the wind in the first half. The game got off to decent start, with Cubo dominating possession and camping themselves in the West End half, although it was proving difficult to put together several short, sharp passes on the unmanicured pitch. Cubo’s threat looked to be coming from the wide areas, where a mixture of Guttridge, Chadwick, Perkins and Cross began playing in triangles around the West End back four and found themselves in space down the channels on a few occasions.
The first goal came from just this kind of situation after about 10 minutes, with Cross and Chadwick playing the ball between themselves before Chadwick fired the ball across the six yard back for Guttridge to slide the ball through the keepers legs and into the back of the net, 1 nil Cubo. The intention following the early goal was to keep piling on the pressure and to go on the hunt for a second, however, the game started to become a little scrappy, with Cubo finding it harder to keep hold of the ball – having said this, West End rarely threatened the Cubo back four, which was being marshalled well by captain Wensley. As the first half went on, Tierney and Laing started meandering up the wings and several chances fell to the likes of Guttridge, Torr and Perkins – all of which were either well saved by the West End keeper or somehow missed the target. The half drew to a close at 1-0, a lead Cubo were happy with but would have lied to extend before playing against the wind in the second half.
The second half kicked off, with Cubo being reminded at half time to stay calm, keep trying to play football and be confident that the second goal would come. Brooks and Cooper started to control the centre of the park and Tierney linked up particularly well with Chadwick down the right, and it was Chadwick who provided Guttridge with a chance to double his tally had he not lifted the ball over the bar in a similar manner to his ‘lookalike’ Owen Farrell. It was clear to see that West End pinned their hopes on getting back into the game from trying to win set pieces and using the swirling winds to try and cause chaos amongst the Cubo defence and it was from a couple of dead balls where they came closest to equalising – one being cleared by Torr on the edge of the six yard box and one corner directly striking the top of the bar.
As the game approached the final quarter, Golding came on to replace Laing and Frost replaced Brooks – spaces began to open up and, on several occasions, it was either a poor final ball or an outstretched West End leg that prevented a Cubo strike on goal. Cubo knew that although feeling like they were in full control of the game, all it would take was one wind assisted set piece or long strike to even it up, therefore, when Frost whipped in a wicked corner with 10 minutes remaining, you could see the relief on the Cubo player’s faces when Chadwick flicked it on in front of the keeper and saw the ball nestle in the bottom corner to double the lead. Torr quickly tried to reinforce the defence and make a back 5 for the final few minutes, replacing Cross with de la Haye, who immediately won several aerial challenges and shored things up.
The referee brought things to an end, with a Cubo clean sheet in tact and another 3 points to put on the board. Taking into account the pitch and the conditions, this was a very professional performance and sets us up very well going into the final two games of the season sat top of the league.
MoM – Charlie Cooper. Covered every blade of grass on the pitch, won every tackle and was very assured each time he got on the ball. It’s just a shame he still hasn’t learnt not to hit a first time shot from outside the box.