AFC Battersea 3-1 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Date: April 6th 2013

Competition: Wimbledon Trophy 3rd Round

Squad: Smith, Reed, Palacio, Fraser, McHale, Vanderlight, Boase, Haddon
(c), Martinus, S. Cain, Tribe

On a bright April afternoon, AFC Cubo 3rd XI took on AFC Battersea at
Raynes Park in the third round of the Wimbledon Trophy. Having not
played a game in the competition, but still being in the third round,
Cubo were taking on a side in the division above and who were rated for
their ability to press and hassle their way into games. Cubo had also
lost Stevie T to the 2s a few hours before kick off so arrived for the
game with eleven men.

Cubo started the game a little nervously as Battersea were able to
string a number of passes together, although lacking any end result. As
the game settled down, Cubo looked solid. The defensive triumvirate of
Smith, Fraser and McHale worked well, ensuring that loose balls were
picked up and cleared away as and when necessary.

The central midfield combination of Andy Martinus and Luke then had time
to get the ball down and knock a few passes around. Andy Tribe moved to
the left wing in a tactical reshape, with James Boase taking a place up
top alongside Stu Cain. Andy M was finding the time to ping-pong the
ball further than a Thai lady of the night, and with just as much
accuracy; causing serious problems for the Battersea full backs.

The tactical switch gave Cubo the ability to cause Battersea real
problems down the wings as the height of Brett and the speed of Tribe
gave the full backs something to worry about. With fifteen minutes
remaining of the first half, Tribe charged down the left wing, cutting
in on the edge of the box to find Stu Cain. His shot hit the danger area
and could only be parried out by the Battersea ‘keeper into the path of
Brett. He took the ball and calmly slotted the ball straight back from
whence it came, into the bottom of the Battersea net. Cubo looked solid
and saw out the remainder of the half, with only a worrying knock to
Andy Martinus to worry about.

Andy’s knock proved serious enough couldn’t continue, so Cubo came out
with 10 men for 45 minutes against the higher division team. Boase
dropped into left wing with Andy T lining up alongside Luke, leaving
Stuey Cain on his own up front.

Despite Cubo’s best efforts to hold on to their lead, the opposition
found an equaliser half way through the second half. A dubious free kick
decision on the left edge of Cubo’s penalty box and a lapse of
concentration led to Battersea’s five-foot-nothing striker slotting the
ball past Smith.

Not long after, the benefit of the additional player meant that
Battersea got a lead after their left winger picked up the ball on the
halfway line and hit the Cubo right. A threading pass across the box
found their rampaging player on the switch, who benefitted from the near
post as he beat Smith with a well placed shot.

Cubo were soon down to nine for a short period after Luke took a rugby
tackle to the face. Coming back on, and with the entire side being
slowly ground down, the Battersea captain found the channel between
Fraser and Reedy and charged into the box with five minutes to go.
Fraser caught the player’s trailing leg near the byeline, and he went
down like a gracious nerd on a bird. A soft penalty to give, but the
referee admitted to Fraser, ‘You’d hit the guy late several times; one
was gonna be a penalty!’ Hard and fast, the Battersea captain gave Smith
no chance as he drilled it down the middle.

A hard fought game, and one where Cubo were certainly not put to shame.

Final Score: AFC Battersea 3 – 1 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Goal: Vanderlight

Man of the Match: Stuart Fraser

Sporting Duet Reserves 1-2 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Date: Saturday 9th February, 2013

Squad: Smith, Lye, Ingle, McHale, Palacio (Rushall), Hackin, Haddon, Edwards, Nixon (Smith), S. Cain, Neville (Martinus)

Despite stellar organisation from Luke, John Glenn caused serious problems on the Friday night before the game as it was pointed out that the fixture was actually at Wandsworth Park, not Wandsworth Common. With Corporal Jones calmness (“Don’t Panic!!”), we eventually got all 14 players on board and on time for kick off.

Cubo started with a standard 4-4-2, looking to build on the good performance against Northern Town the week before and looking to pick up a vital three points. The Sporting Duet side looked fresh as spring chickens, with an estimated average age of 17 judging by their distinct lack of facial hair. Luke’s pre-match team talk consisted of various vulgarities, with the main thread being that the side needed to get stuck in and to use their considerable age advantage to their favour.

Pressing the opposition was the name of the game, and it soon produced results. Duet found Ant Hackin a handful on the wing and playing a hopeful ball to the centre of the park, Luke collected it and found some space behind the left back for Ant to push on. With a deft swing of the boot, he found Stu Cain at the back post who hammered the ball with his left foot into the roof of the net. Bells were tolled across London; a special bank holiday was announced; the Pope resigned; but most importantly, Stu thought he had a story to tell his dad that night.

With Cubo a goal to the good, confidence grew. The Duet centre midfield found it difficult to get any kind of ball to play football as Luke and Pistol Pete deftly broke up play with strong-arm football techniques that the youngsters didn’t like to get involved in. As Cubo pushed the Duet play backwards, Dave Nixon forced a corner on the left flank. Henners stepped up and delivered a threatening ball to the back post, over the goalkeeper’s head. Carnage ensued. Stu Cain threw himself at it wholeheartedly, but fell over. Ant Hackin charged in, followed by Pistol Pete, and somehow the ball hit the back of the Duet net. Ant ran away, claiming the goal; and with those guns, who are we to argue?!

Stu and Henners were both clearly devastated as it turned out the number 10 shirt took the full force of Pete’s boots in the goalmouth scramble, coming away second best. Stu was also left looking like the leading lady from Fifty Shades of Grey. Old Aber Boys have always liked a bit of rough.

Cubo closed out the rest of the half, and went in two goals up.

Cubo made a single half time change as Ed Smith replaced Dave Nixon, coming on to the left wing. The Sporting Duet coaches obviously found the strength of Cubo’s midfield combination dangerous and made wholesale changes at half time. A completely new centre midfield showed fresh legs and would cause Cubo problems late in the game.

Until then, Cubo continued in the fashion of the first half. With Jamie McHale joining Jimmy Ingle in centre defence, Cubo has a strong foundation on which to work it down the channels. Jez Lye and Antonio Palacio found space on the flanks, pushing on and giving the wingers room to get behind the Duet full backs. Midway through the second half, Antonio found Ed Smith on the left wing, who gave the ball to Henry inside the Duet penalty box. With the faint dip of his right shoulder, he went to the left of the defender and hit a cutting shot at goal. The keeper did well to keep it out.

The keeper was nowhere to be seen for Cubo’s next effort, as a goal line scramble was narrowly foiled by the Duet defence. Ant drifted in at the back post as a deep cross came in, and headed it towards goal. With all the luck of a 16-way accumulator coming in, Duet’s captain was on hand to keep it out. Twice. Ant following up his initial effort, before Duet hacked the ball out.

By this time, Cubo were knackered. Duet’s young midfield were supplemented by an old head, and Pete and Luke found themselves up against three in the middle of the park. On the one rare occasion that Duet found space between the Cubo midfield and defence, and got away from the wrath of Luke’s short-man complex, Adam Smith came to the rescue with his ‘invisible hand’ and pushed an effort from Duet’s diminutive dangerman wide.

Duet got a goal back with five minutes to go, as the little number 10 knocked a Karel Poborsky goal-bound shot over Smith’s head. The credit was stolen from him by his fellow frontman who finished it with the sneakiness of a girl who looks like she’s gonna give it up, before letting you know she’s on her period.

In the next five minutes, Duet pushed for a second. Looking and sounding like The Angry Ginger Kid, Luke lost his rag. Commanding the team to “Stop pussying around with it, and get it out!”, he pulled another impressive debutant, Andy Martinus, into centre midfield to provide support and close out the game.

At the final whistle, Cubo had picked up the vital three points they’d been looking for. This was a hard fought win, akin to sleazing with the ugly girl at 3am.  Sometimes you have to “win ugly”…

As for Stu Cain’s story, his brother bagged a hat trick for the Cubo firsts. The bank holiday was swiftly cancelled.

Final score: Sporting Duet Reserves 1 – 2 AFC Cubo 3rd XI
Goals: Cain, S., Hackin,
Man of the Match: Luke Haddon

AFC Cubo 3rd XI 1-2 Northern Town

Date: Saturday 2nd Feb 2013

Starting XI: Bushy, Cucos, Ingle, Reed, Palacios, Vanderlight, Edwards, Haddon, Nixon, Neville, Griffiths

Sub: Smith

On a glorious February afternoon, Cubo thirds took on the mid-table Northern Town with Cubo looking to pick up all important points to support their drive to First Division safety. This would be the last home game for Cubo this season, and although having missed the last three weeks due to bad weather, the squad could only be described as rag-tag due to absences across the whole club. With two goalkeepers in the squad, Brett started on the right wing, providing physicality and a strong jump in both boxes. Cubo also appreciated the return of Pistol Pete Edwards, on a short break from his capitalist undertakings in China. Dave Nixon brought new options down bathe left wing, especially at a time when Henners’ knee limited his mobility.

After a difficult first five minutes filled with intense Northern Town attacking, the game settled into a proper rhythm. Cubo had the wind in the first half and broke the deadlock after a half hour as Jordan provided some support on the half way line before returning the ball to Bushy to clear upfield. Northern Town had a high line and their gobby centre half found himself caught out by the wind, with Henners chasing on to the loose ball and sweeping it in to the net after sending the keeper the wrong way. Haddon and Tongzhi Edwards gave solid support to the wings and the defence as Cubo went in at half time one goal to the good.

Cubo started the second half with ten players as Jordan dashed back to the changing room for a quick Jason Puncheon. Despite playing into the wind (no pun intended) in the second half, Cubo looked strong and continued to press. While the wind carried the ball quickly in the first half, the second half gave Cubo the opportunities to put the ball into the strikers’ feet as it held in the wind. Jordan went close on a number of occasions as he was able to find the space between the Town midfield and defence, and quick darts from Antonio down the left flank gave the opposition a number of problems.

Town were able to force a number of corner kicks from Cubo as their wingers got more of the ball, assisted by the breeze. After seventy minutes, a corner from their right was headed goalwards by the centre half. Ed Smith (who had replaced Dave Nixon on the left wing five minutes before) cleared it off the line, but was only able to nod it downwards. As it bounced back up and held in the wind, Ed was no match for their seven foot nine inch centre midfielder who nodded it in to the net past the stranded Bushy.

The game looked settled for the next fifteen minutes and both sides offered chances to go ahead. A lovely lofted ball from Luke into the space between their right back and centre half gave Jordan the chance to put the game beyond Town, but strong defensive work from their covering defence and keeper meant Griffith couldn’t connect properly and the ball limped wide.

Town grabbed the winner after consecutive corners at the Cubo end on the eighty-five minute mark. An inswinging corner caught Chris Reed unawares, striking him high on the arm. A harsh one to give, the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. The Northern Town captain dispatched it past Bushy, inside his left post.

Cubo tried to threaten in the last five minutes, but couldn’t find the net.

Final Score: AFC Cubo 1 – 2 Northern Town FC

Scorer: Neville

Brentside 0-3 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Date: Saturday 22nd September

Venue: Wandsworth Common, KO 2pm

Starting line up: Richard Bush, Nick Tubb, Antonio Valencia, Ralph Wensley, James Ingle, Henry Neville, Timmy Field, John Watson, Conor O’Callaghan, Ben Young, Paul May

Subs: Satal Thethy, Tim Jones, John Glenn

Scorers: May, Young 2

After a difficult Thursday juggling players between teams due to a sudden holiday and injury crisis across the club, some good news on Saturday morning saw Conor bring old friend John Watson into play, and Bushy return earlier than expected from holiday. A very strong line up resulted as Cubo 3rds took to the field against Brentside, unbeaten and yet to concede, scoring 8 in their previous 2 games.

Playing uphill on an unforgiving, hard pitch; under a hot sun, Cubo struggled in the first 15 minutes, Brentside twice going close with long balls through to their wide men. However, as the half wore on, Cubo began to look more threatening, especially on the counter. Watson and Big Paul combined well to release May into the box, Paul shot narrowly wide, Ben blazing 85 yards over the bar when it seemed easier to score, from pretty much directly under the cross bar. With the defence marshalled well by Ralph, Jimbo stepping authoritatively forward to intercept play, and Nick and Tonio easily covering the Brentside wingers, Cubo took control. Like lads. A long clearance from Bushy saw Paul released down the right hand side. Gassing their 6 foot 10 centre back, not for the first time, he slotted the ball across the goal into the bottom left corner. Half time 1-0 The Cubo.

Half time felt strange without the usual display of imaginative profanity from Turner. It was actually positive. It seemed to work, as Cubo started the second half as they finished the first, in control. A rare break from Brentside saw a cross from the right wing canon off the head of their striker onto the cross bar, but apart from that, the blues remained on top. Conor especially stood out with intelligent movement and strong running. A pass from Antonio down the left wing again released Big Paul, who steam rollered over a couple of challenges, and unbelievably, and to the incredulity of everyone watching, actually passed the ball, cutting it back to Ben who slotted home from the penalty spot. Ben said it was a mis-hit shot from Paul.

With 15 minutes to go, and with Brentside having used their 3 subs, Bushy claimed a ball under pressure from their striker. A collision resulted in the Brentside striker having to come off, leaving the home side with 10 men for the remainder. With Paul now having completely subdued the entirety of their back 3, yet another marauding run saw him AGAIN cut the ball back for the waiting Ben to socre his second, and final goal of the match.

Final Score: Brentside 0-3 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Scorers: May, B. Young (2)

Massive thanks to Salty and Jonesy who a) navigated horrendous traffic to get to the game to act as subs (as without them we only really had 11) and b) played superbly when they came on, adding bite and tenacity to an already well-oiled midfield.

Man of the Match: Impossible to split Jimbo and Ralph – absolutely bloody brilliant the pair of them. So good, they were better than Paul with a goal and two assists, and Ben with two goals.

FC Porto of London 2-7 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Date: Saturday 14th April

Starting XI: Hulk, JG, Joe, Oli, Jez, Lucas, Jeph, Bradders, Jordan, Tett, Paul.

Subs: Field, Saddlebags, Smith.

In typical 3s style the 1245 meet at Wimbledon common extensions was interpreted as anywhere in the 1.15-145 bracket, but still well ahead of all-italian (Editor: or Portuguese?) Porto – with Cubo needing 3 points to give the best chance of promotion with fingers crossed that other results favoured. The pre game mood was upbeat – a few reliable names drafted in and Jeph on time courtesy of JG transport.

Turner’s team talk demanded an urgent start – something lacking from recent performances – and that’s exactly what he got. Having won back possession post-ko, some tidy possession across the back culminated with Jeph picking up the ball on the half-way line and from there ghosting past 3/4 men before pulling the trigger on the edge of the box. an impressive one-handed stop led to the game’s first corner….. Lucas whipped in and that man Jeph was there to direct a bullet into the top bin. 1-0.

It wasn’t long before another attack created an almost identical goal – Lucas from a corner to Jeph with a textbook header down; cleverly judging the bounce over the man on the line – again top corner, 2-0, 5 mins played.

Cubo’s best football came from the left through this passage of the game…. JG and Jords linking up well and the midfield playing simple short balls to hold possession and work openings. It was from the left channel goal three came; stretching the Porto left back Jords won a throw, Bradders arrowed a ball into the box, lobbing all in place but for the house-wifes favourite at the back stick (GTett)…. a technically immense volley; 3-0.

Special mention at this point to Paul; relatively isolated up top, but created room for himself to play and strong in possession. Goal 4 was a more direct ball involving that very man… Bradders into Tett and from the right this time a beautifully flighted and weighted ball playing Paul in to neatly finish with a headed lob over the onrushing keeper. 4-0 and half time….. little for Tuner to recap on other than to keep heads and remind on recent complacency… 45 mins to secure an important victory.

Goal 5 came almost immediately…. Jez taking a quick throw down the right, Jords’ flick onto Cubo’s Mr Right (GTett) who had an easy job to finish at the near post. 5-0 and game over. Two Cubo changes at this point; Oli off with an injury post a very assured display, for Tim Field… and a couple of minutes later London’s night owl Edd Smith for Jords in what proved to be a 30 min display that will live long in the memory for two of the least threatening efforts on goal ever seen in football. From here the teams shared goals on the run into the final whistle….. Cubo conceding 2 goals to momentary lacks in concentration and Paul and Jeph adding to their  tallies in quality performances.

A fine display from start to finish.

Final Score: FC Porto of London 2-7 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Goals: Jeph 3, Paul 2, Tett 2

Match Report: Greg Tett

Inter Old Boys 2-6 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Date: Saturday 10th March, 2012

Venue: Wandsworth Common

Starting Line-up: Bushey, Jez, Jimmy, Mark D, Luke, Jeph, Turns, Lukas, Henry, Paul M, Tett.

Subs: Ben R, Trev, John G,

So the Cubo 3s enter into the business end of the season. So its time for all the well used cliches to come out with every game being a cup final and making sure that every member of the teams bum really is squeaky clean.

I’m not sure if it was because of the growing importance of the matches, Jones’ rallying call to the whole team in the week or the fact that we were all meeting at jonesy’s and there was a chance of the early birds catching her in her night garms but for the first time in a long time. The full team was all present and correct pretty much on time. Jeph was obviously the last to show but at 40 mins before kick off he was a whole 2 hours inside his previous appearance so very impressive none the less.

With March offering up some fantastic early weather the scene was set for Cubo to really set the sleazing stakes high and wander over from nightingale lane, fully kitted in the shades. There are unconfirmed reports there were 2 road accidents early on sunday from mass hysteria in what the metro described on Monday morning as a scene out of the lynx adverts

Team assemble on the side of the pitch drawn out for under 8 football and were greeted with 3 huge lake like puddles in the middle of the pitch which considering its been the driest winter for 50 years really shows the great work that the groundsmen do over at wandsworth common. Thanks for turning up guys. With Jones now really evolving into the managerial role after having to accept that darren anderton put in more consecutive appearances, the pre match warm up consisted of drills with markers and flourescent bibs (good to see Ed’s gloves get some use in the summer months) Cubo started feeling very prepared for this top of the table clash. With 2 points separating second to fifth this really would decide who would take the second automatic promotion spot.

Cubo set up in their usual formation of 4-3-3 with Henry and the Tett really putting his claim to the biggest utility player in Cubo providing width to Paul May up top. Cubo started very brightly, with the skill, pace and power of the middle 3 of Jeph, Lukas and Turner (I’ll let you make up your own mind as to where each member falls!) far too much for Inter old boys. An early corner presented the first opportunity of the game, a superb delivery by lukas treated with the usual Head/Shoulder combo from Turner and much like his shots from outside the box it went over the bar. With some minor exchanges the first real opportunity then came, a quick break from Cubo saw the Paul the target man May pick up the ball on the half way line. In a display of “Chip and  Chase” that would have put Gareth Bale to shame he sprinted off down the left flank. Instead of the classic shoulder barge to fend off oncoming defenders, May prefers the hip barge, which took him to the byline. Skipping inside the defender coming across the only other man capable of keeping up with Englands Bale was the on rushing Jeph who after a nice cut back from May tucked it into the corner for Cubo’s opening goal.

With a fairly big team, Inter Old Boys made their tactics clear very early with very little inter play in the middle and a whole heap of long balls. In their skipper, who last year just managed to grow out of being labelled an official dwarf, possessed a throw that far out weighed his 5″1 frame. Making the most of the under 8 pitch the extra from willow launched a throw right underneath the crossbar. In the melee that followed they managed to squeeze the ball in at the back post. A very undeserved 1-1.

With the disappointment evident, Inter started to come back into the game. With a few more thrown ins that were dealt with a lot better, Inter started to apply some pressure. A few last ditch clearances and some resolute defending kept the score lines level with Jimmy and welcoming Mark Dallamore back into the team and confident at the back as always. Then the class started to show, Cubo started to get the ball down again but it was a goal out of inter’s book which made the difference going into half time, done in Cubo style. A throw into Paul May got a very decent flick to the edge of the box where jeph was waiting. The ball was brought down on the chest and crisply volleyed into the corner. The ball having not touched the floor from throw in to goal (Big time!)

Half time and after a few weeks of relatively tame words, it was time again for a few overly aggressive, ranting words from Turner (which have from somewhere developed an Austrailian twang!).

What proceeded for the next 20 mins was the most fluid, attacking and quite frankly brilliant football I have ever seen in Cubo colours. Sharp one-two’s and great vision created gaps and chances from all over the park. A nice interchange on half way set Tett racing down the right. Cutting into the box and with Paul May and Henry waiting at the back post, Tett fires across what he really should of claimed as a shot as despite being a good few metres wise and over it was certainly closer to the goal than either of the 2 on rushing defenders. In almost a mirror play 2 mins later Tett was released down the right again and with the horror cross still at the front of his mind, decided this time to instead cut back a half paced ball to the penalty spot. Seeing the opportunity May and Neville ran into almost an embracing position and seemed to almost have a small chat over who was going to tap it in before Henry scuffed one into the bottom corner.

For all reading this, please enjoy this next paragraph and revel in it alone at home, reading on the lap top in front of the TV. But please at no point should these next few paragraphs ever be discussed in any sort of group event, meeting, casual chat of otherwise. The words are consigned to this report only and if ever a word is spoken gesturing towards this event, it will be denied and dismissed as mere folklore.

By this stage the ball was rarely leaving the Inter half. Cubo were having all the possession and giving the old boys the run around. With the ball moving from left to right Tett picks the ball up on the right hand side, with a chance to set and cross he delivers a floating ball to the left hand side. Then from just inside the top left of the area, Henry chests the ball, then almost falling backwards (which I genuinely think may have been a loss of balance rather than deliberate) curls a volley into the top right hand corner. An absolute screamer.

(That really hurt to write)

Directly from kick off, Inter chip a ball forward in the vain hope of getting it out of their half. The ball was headed back where Paul May got the flick on again to release the rushing Jeph. He gathers and with the keeper rushing out, holds down the L1 button and shot superbly to dink the keeper and make it 5 (Who said Pro Evo isnt a true reflection of real life? It is when Cubo/(Jeph) plays!)

With Cubo then well clear and the dominance showing the flowing football just kept coming. In a rare expedition into the Cubo half, Inter managed to get a throw on the right hand side. With Willow keen as always to use the only opportunity he gets for feeling big, he launches another throw into the area. With Bushey seemingly taken out the keeper was not given the same keeper friendly rules and the flick on into the net was allowed to stand. Despite being 5-2 it gave Inter renewed hope they may be able to salvage something from the game. The game became a bit looser but with Cubo still firmly on top. A free kick was then given about 10 yards outside the penalty box. As usual with free kicks in this sort of distance Neville picks up the ball in the vain hope he may get the nod and gives the ball the customary 4000 revolutions before placing in on the turf. Then lining up to take it was Neville, Tett and Lukas. Slicking his hair back Tett really was displaying traits of a man who was preparing to take it but with Lukas’ left foot in the ranks, this beckham-esque display and making the ball dizzy was surely only a rouse of deception as from all members of Cubo on and off the field there was only 1 man that was going to take this. The whistle goes and Tett is the first to move towards the ball, surely just a case of a classic dummy before the left foot comes. It seems that money mattered in the pre free kick discussion as the richer of the 3 in Tett actually makes contact and curls an absolute delight of a free kick up and over the wall (still slightly convinced it went through the wall but whos counting) and into the bottom left corner. A fantastic goal to round off an absolute rout.

Now what wasnt said up to now as part of the overly aggressive any given sunday words at half time, Turner called for the game to be put out of reach. That one goal simply wasnt good enough and that he wanted 5 and 6. Some may say that with the cubo talent on show that this would have happened anyway but I say this if a tree falls in the forest but you dont know what it is, does it really fall .

Final Score: Inter Old Boys 2-6 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Goals: Jeph (x3), Hennerz (x2), Tett.

Man of the Match: It seems that words of inspirational leadership are not rewarded by his peers as in the after match vote for man of the match, the 3 goals and all round display from Jeph carried more weight (seems most/(all) are blind to victorious guidance

I will repeat what I said at the end of the game which is put simply, the best Cubo experience I have ever been part of.

Well done to all that were part of it, a great performance and bring on the rest of the promotion run.

Match Report: Turns

Kiwi FC 2-1 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Date: Saturday 14th January, 2012

Starting Line-up: Bushy, Lye, Ingle, Dallamore, Rushall, Jepht, Pickett, Turner (C), Field, May, Neville.

Subs:

Sometimes losing a football match can seem rather like breaking up with a long-term girlfriend (stay with me here). You can do all the right things, work hard, produce great moments and be truly convinced that everything is going to turn out ok. Yes you’ve had some adversity, but who doesn’t? And you’ve come out stronger. You’re certain that you are on the path to something special and then before you know what’s happening someone blows the whistle and tells you it’s all over. You’re devastated, shocked, angry and upset. You need an easy lay to take your mind of it (bottom of the league next week) but this was the big one, and it didn’t turn out as you’d hoped…

And so it was that the baby blue army gathered at a chilly Wandsworth Park to face their destiny, a game against top of the league Kiwi who they’d beaten earlier in the season to start a run of results that had seen Cubo win 4 out of 4. A victory against the New Zealanders would see Cubo a fraction off top spot with a game in hand, defeat would throw them straight back into the mix of four or five teams hunting down second place.

A stirring pre-game speech from Manager Rob Jones left the Cubo boys buzzing, and straight from kick off a through ball from Ingle set Neville free down the left. His early cross was headed clear, but the early intent was highlighted.

Cubo were pressing high up the pitch early on, although finding it hard to get into their normal passing rhythm due to a distinctly sub standard pitch. This suited Kiwi’s direct style of play, and they were taking every opportunity to hit their front men early with long balls, although they were being dealt with admirably by the cemented centre back pairing of Dallamore and Ingle.

Then a ball played out to the left saw Neville draw a foul from the Kiwi right midfielder. An inswinging free kick from the Cubo wide man wasn’t fully attacked by a strangely static Cubo attack, but the ball bounced back out to captain Matt Turner. He “controlled” the ball brilliantly with alternating touches off his chest, shin and thigh as he ran towards the goal line, but somehow saw the ball roll inches past the post from 3 yards.

Next, a break from Kiwi saw their striker pick up the ball in the wide left channel and feed a sumptuous (that’s right) pass across the pitch, evading both Cubo centre backs, into the path of the second striker. Fortunately for Cubo his finish was lacking and Bushy was barely tested.

Cubo rallied and despite the awful pitch were trying to play good football, they were squeezing up the flanks and putting pressure on the Kiwi backline. Paul May in particular making himself known to the Kiwi centre backs by chasing hard into the channels, creating more space for the Cubo midfield three of Lukas, Jeph and Turner.

A ball inside from Neville to Jeph saw the midfielder shoot wide from 25 yards, and then a foul from a kiwi midfielder on a rampaging Turner drew a free kick just to the right of the box, 25 yards out. Lukas stepped up and bent a peach towards the top corner, but the Kiwi keeper showed great athleticism at full stretch and kept it out.

Then the first hammer blow. As another Cubo attack broke down in the kiwi half, the team in all white broke. The rangy centre forward poked the ball beyond Dallamore and was just able to get there before the stretching Cubo centre back, he took a touch and slotted the ball past Bushy. 1-0 Kiwi.

Cubo continued to dominate territory in their search for an equaliser, whilst excellent controlled defending from the back four saw that Kiwi posed no further threat. However, a clear-cut chance couldn’t quite be fashioned, and at half time the baby blues went in 1-0 down.

A confident half time team talk highlighted the team’s belief that this game was far from over and that a goal would surely come. The Cubo boys came out for the second half and again tried their best to get hold of the ball and spread the play wide to the flanks for Neville and Field.

A succession of free kicks were drawn from the frustrated Kiwi boys and balls were being played in, but the chances weren’t quite falling for the attackers. Kiwi weren’t offering much in attack at all, preferring to compete hard in the midfield and defence. Every time the ball was pumped forward it was either headed clear or swept up by the confident Ingle and Dallamore.

Then the killer blow. A corner from Kiwi somehow saw the ball fall directly at the feet of their diminutive (yet tricky) centre forward. He was tightly marked by Ingle and with his back to goal, but produced a backheel through Ingle’s legs and into the net from a couple of yards. A great finish.

Cubo couldn’t believe they were two down, and were clearly downhearted that they hadn’t had such a lucky break of the ball in the opposition box all game despite their efforts. But they didn’t give up. Then, the glimmer of hope. A long ball played into the box from a free kick on the right saw yet another scramble for possession, this time as the ball looped free it was Jeremy Lye who got his head to it and steered it into the bottom corner! 2.1…

With 20 minutes to go Cubo smelt blood and a clearly fearful Kiwi sat deeper and deeper as the Baby blues pressed for the second that their territory and effort had deserved. But just as momentum was gained, a clearance from Kiwi bounced up and struck Lukas in the chest. The ref blew for a handball and the incensed midfield playmaker said something along the lines of, “No I don’t think so ref, it hit my in the chest, don’t be so silly.” The ref didn’t tolerate that sort of filth and brandished a red card. Disaster for Cubo.

However, and they deserve huge credit for this, the tide of the game did not shift now they were a man lighter. The defense were called on more often, but were once again impermeable, with Bushy not needing to make a single save and overall Cubo continued to press hard for the equaliser.

Another ball into the Kiwi box saw May with a slight opening but his right foot shot went over the top. Corner’s from Neville were becoming more frequent, although he lacked some of his usual quality and couldn’t find the Cubo would be headers. Then another bent free kick curled dangerously towards the Kiwi goal but the deflection saw the ball whistle just wide of the post. Another free kick from the right caused pin ball in the Kiwi box once again but this time Neville’s curled shot bent just over the bar.

A final turn and shot from Neville, bent wide from the edge of the box and the ref blew for full time. The Cubo boys had gone down by two goals to one against Kiwi who had pulled away at the top of the league.

Final Score: Kiwi FC 2-1 AFC Cubo 3rd XI

Goal: Geremi Lye

Cubo were left scratching their heads how they hadn’t got anything out of the game and I think even the most hardcore Kiwi supporter had to say that they were hanging on for much of the second half. But hanging on was all they had to do and they will be happy to avenge their defeat earlier in the season.

Cubo will no doubt be back, and carry the anger from this game into the remaining fixtures for the season. They should still be there or thereabouts when all is said and done at the end of the campaign.

Man of the Match:  Difficult as the effort shown by the entire team in the second half, especially when going down to ten men, was outstanding. However the winner was James Ingle who put in another dominant display at the back and never looked in trouble the entire game.

Match Report: Henry Neville

AFC Cubo 3rd XI 2-1 South East London 2nd XI

Date: Saturday 7th January 2012

Starting Line-up: Bush, Lye, Smith, Ingle, Dallamore, Field, Bennett, Turner, Pickett, Bradley, May

Subs: Laurence, Cucos

After a very continental Christmas break, including Wayne Rooney-styled festive party, Cubo 3s were back at Barnes ready to continue the form they concluded 2011 in.

Playing their penultimate home game of the season (on 7 January!), Cubo took the field, although a front lawn may be more appropriate given its size, against a South East London side sitting just above the relegation zone.

Cubo, in their changed strip of red and navy, lost the toss and were forced to play into a wind so strong that even Turner could record a sub-10 second 100m time if had it at his back.

SEL started strongly using the gale to their advantage. Their long ball tactics and basketball-style full-court press made it difficult for Cubo to get out of their own half for the opening 20 minutes.

It wasn’t long before the territorial pressure told and SEL broke through only to be denied by a superb stop from Bushy in the Cubo goal.

With the wind swirling above and a narrow pitch Cubo struggled to construct their usual passing game and five minutes later the away side broke through again, this time it was SEL’s other front man who was stopped by an outstretched Bushy, not once but twice.

As the half grew longer Cubo began to grow in confidence with Billers’ energy rivaling a Mascherano/springer spaniel lovechild. The striker’s chasing from the front allowed his side’s defence much needed respite.

With player/manager (you can pretty much remove the player part these days) Rob Jones’ half-time team talk fundamentally around the Wizard of Oz hurricane circling over Barn Elms, he was left with little to say as it was reduced to no more than a the force of a disappointed sigh. Fortunately, captain Matt (Tourette’s) Turner rallied the troops with his usual nonsensical, sweary, off-point, Any Given Sunday speech.

With Cubo confident of a positive result at the break they were hit with a surprise strike from SEL. A lack of pressure on the ball on the right hand side led to a hopeful ball being hooked over the top for their burly striker to run on to and lob the on-rushing keeper with aplomb.

Without a thought the home side brushed off this lapse in concentration and began to apply pressure of their own. Turner had a volley blocked from 20 yards out after winding it up from inside his own half.

The resulting corner led to the deserved equalizer. Lucas Pickett swung in a delicious left-footed delivery on to centre-back Mark Dallamore’s head, one of the countless headers he had won throughout the afternoon.

Not settling for a point though, Cubo began to win every tackle all over the pitch. Tim Field was beginning to profit from the space developing on the right hand side and Paul May was proving too much of handful for the opposing centre-backs.

With 15 minutes remaining Pickett received the ball level with the top of the area on the right touchline. A drag-back passed the full-back and a nutmeg through the covering centre-back left him with a only a half chance. The angle was tighter than his mum, but that was all he needed as he let fly and took Cubo to their 5th win in their unbeaten last seven matches.

Final Score: AFC CUbo 3rd XI 2-1 South East London 2nd XI

Goals: Dallamore, Pickett

Man of the Match: Six players received votes this week, but the winner with an assist and the deciding goal – Lucas Pickett.

Match Report: Lee Evans