Line-up: Hutchinson, Seymour (Frost), Laing, Torr, de la Haye, Shaw (Brooks), Peel, Cross (Cooper), Chadwick, Perkins (Brooks), Guttridge
Goals: Peel, Guttridge, Chadwick
Cubo rounded off their most successful ever season in the Surrey Elite League with a trip to Tom’s field, the home of Horsley FC, for a very tricky tie against the previous double treble winners. The Cubans travelled out to Surrey knowing that a win, coupled with dropped points for Battersea, would clinch their maiden title at the highest level of amateur football.
Managers Torr & Tulip were able to name a strong squad of 16 (albeit containing 2 elder statesmen in Wensley and Tulip who weren’t actually fit) and set about motivating the team for the big game ahead by reminding them that this wasn’t a cup final, it was just another game in which we needed to be professional, as we had been all season, especially since the turn of the year. Even a comfortable win could mean no title, and the lads were all in agreement – which meant no nerves, no panic and 16 players who knew what they needed to do.
The game kicked off with both teams finding pockets of space, Horsley in midfield and Cubo down the flanks. Horsley’s biggest danger in the early stages was the goal-scoring midfielder Henzi, who showed a couple of clever turns and passes but was unable to find a way past the resolute defence who were looking for yet another clean sheet. For Cubo’s attack, all joy was being had down the left side as Peel and Perkins looked to exploit the Horsley RB’s lack of pace on the turn. Peel in particular seemed to have the bit between his teeth, driving the team forward and putting a few early shots at the keeper or wide. Both sides were having some difficulty through the middle of defence, with countless through-balls to Guttridge/Chadwick being snuffed out by the impressive Horsley centre half.
After 25 mins Cubo found the opening goal, with a long throw being head back across goal by Guttridge into the path of Peel, who smashed an unstoppable half volley from 18 yards past the keeper and into the top corner, channelling his inner 2012 Papiss Cissee. A brilliant goal to give Cubo the edge in what was turning into a tight game. A few chances for Cubo followed with Chadwick in particular starting to find some joy against the LB but finding the keeper tricky to beat. Horsley were beginning to switch all attention to right winger Thorne, who was finding space on the right wing to collect but was then running into the immovable force of Seymour, who frustrated the winger all half in signs of what was to come. Half time, 1-0 and professionalism was the key word as the away side looked to make no mistakes and get the job done 2ndhalf.
The 2ndhalf carried on much the same way with all of Cubo’s players playing their part in winning their individual battles. Horsley’s tricky centre forward partnership were finding their efforts blocked by Torr & de la Haye, with Laing alongside playing some lovely through balls forward to begin the attacks. Shaw was having another typical game disrupting Horsley attacks and Cross was key in turning defence into attack. Goal number 2 followed after 10 minutes when Peel, having his game of the season, stole the ball off the Horsley midfielder, drove forward with 2 players in pursuit and was then scythed down from behind to give Cubo a clear penalty and a yellow card for the defender. Guttridge stepped up and dispatched the pen to give Cubo what felt like an unassailable lead in the game, the celebrations amongst the team making it feel like this couldbe the buffer that was needed.
The game, & referee, had other ideas though, as a penalty was given to Horsley for a seemingly innocuous hold in the box from Seymour. None of the home team appealed, hence the mass confusion on the pitch. Henzi stepped up, scored the pen, but due to encroachment it was ordered to be retaken, which he duly did once more. 2-1 and Cubo were now in a position of uncertainty despite being resolute all game.
That was quickly put to bed though, after a foul on Chadwick gave Cubo a free kick in a favourable area. Peel stepped up, whipped a ferocious whipped ball into the box which was headed back across goal by Guttridge and headed into the net by the onrushing Chadwick. A flurry of substitutions saw Cooper, Brooks and Frost enter the pitch and shore up the formation, which closed out the game nicely for the Cubans – Brooks in particular showing some nice touches and skills to see the game out.
Full time and a fantastic win for the away side against a side who will probably be up there challenging next season. Professionalism was the word of the day and this is a side who have scored the most, conceded the 2ndfewest and turned their home pitch into a fortress, adding strength in depth to every position. Results elsewhere meant the league was not won on this occasion, but with 3 games for Battersea left to play, the hope is still there.
MoM: A landslide week, as Harry Peel dominated the game in every aspect. 1 goal scored, 1 assist and a big hand in the other. Horsley couldn’t live with the playmaker all game, as many teams can’t when he’s on his game. But a shoutout to the whole team for the performance.