1XI League vs Royal Holloway Old Boys (06.03.19) – 3-2 Win

Line-up: Hutchinson, Seymour, Laing, de la Haye, Frost, Shaw (Brooks), Cross, Peel, Chadwick, Perkins (Cooper), Guttridge

Goals: Own Goal, Shaw, Perkins

Looking to bounce back after a disappointing result last time out versus league strugglers Ripley, Cubo faced Royal Holloway Old Boys, in a fixture that usually produces both goals and excitement.

With Torr suspended following his sending off against Ripley, he was able to focus solely on management duties and was able to pick from a very strong squad. The chat in the changing room prior to kick-off was to forget about the week before and try and match the performance shown vs. Spartans, making the pitch big and trusting ourselves to play the football we know we can, with intensity, urgency and quality.

The game began in exactly the manner that had been discussed, with Perkins seeing a lot of the ball down the left and Peel & Cross pressing the Holloway midfield superbly, regularly winning the ball back in dangerous areas. The first chance of the game deservedly fell to Cubo, after a scramble in the box following a set piece and several shots blocked, the ball fell to Perkins on the six yard box who was able to divert the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately, the celebrations were cut short with the Holloway linesman raising a late flag and the goal was ruled out (although Cubo were adamant that two Holloway defenders had been stood on the line). Credit to Cubo, they did not start to feel sorry for themselves and continued as the better team, stationed in the Holloway half and this pressure soon paid off after Peel won the ball back 10 yards from the Holloway box and played the ball out wide to Perkins – he was able to square up the Holloway full back and get to the byline before pulling it across goal and seeing the attempted clearance from the centre back loop over the goal keeper and into the bottom corner, 1 nil Cubo.

The plan was now to keep piling on the pressure and not letting Holloway get back into the game. This plan, however, was short lived as a ball over the top of the Cubo defence minutes later was only half cleared before the ball was played into the box, where a coming together between de la Haye and the Holoway striker saw the referee point to the spot – the big Holloway striker stepped up and slotted the penalty away to bring the scores back level. The remaining 20 minutes of the first half saw Cubo struggle to get back to the level at which they started the game, with the high press being turned on several occasions, leaving Shaw and the back four exposed on the counter. With around 10 minutes of the half left the tricky Holloway centre midfielder found himself through on goal down the right-hand side and closed down on Hutchinson before slotting through the goalkeepers legs from a tight angle to give Holloway the lead going into the half time break.

Heading back into the changing room, the Cubo team were somewhat shocked that they were losing, particularly after the strong start to the game. The call was for the team not to panic and to believe that if we matched that level of performance for the next 45 minutes, we would come out on top and turn the scoreline around. The team headed back out for the second half knowing that this would be a season defining half of football and nothing less than 3 points would do. With the game back underway, Peel and Cross started to see more and more of the ball, switching play regularly out to Perkins and Chadwick. Although, chances were scarce, it was clear to see Cubo had got back to the level f performance seen at the beginning of the game, again camped in the Holloway half and there was little concern on the faces of de la Haye and Laing at the back.

Around twenty minutes in to the second half, a Cubo corner was taken quickly to the edge of the box, where Shaw found himself in a few yards of space. Not known for his long distance shooting, most in the box expected Shaw to clip a ball into the danger area, but instead he got the ball out of his feet and had an effort on goal – although well placed, the pace on the ball made the goalkeepers save look relatively simple, however, the ball slipped between his gloves and trickled across the line giving Shaw his first goal of the season and Cubo a way back into the game. The game was now on a knife-edge, Cubo knew that they had to carry on pressing for the win and this did provide some extra space for the Holloway attackers to pick up, resulting in Hutchinson being tested on a couple of occasions, with one excellent save to note in particular from a 30 yard volley that looked destined for the bottom left-hand corner.  

As the game moved towards the final stages, it looked as if the game may be heading towards a draw. Cubo made a change, replacing Shaw with Brooks to try and aid the midfield pairing of Cross and Peel, who did find himself with a few yards of space just inside the Holloway box and saw his effort across the keeper agonisingly come back off the post and back into play. Luckily for Cubo not one player decided to give in and settle for the point, with Chadwick in particular finding some energy in those legs of his and started marauding down the right flank – his efforts were rewarded as with 5 minutes to go, he got to the by-line and was able to pull the ball back into the box, causing chaos as the one Holloway player cleared it into another and the ball feel to Guttridge with his back to goal six yards out. Guttridge had the awareness to spot Perkins across the goal and unselfishly played it across to him, leaving an open net for him to slide the ball into, making it 3-2 Cubo and sending Torr and Shaw onto the pitch in their celebrations.

With 5 minutes of injury time added on, it was now time to dig deep and hold on and Torr brought Cooper on for Perkins to try and sure things up.t Holloway found themselves with multiple set pieces and the delivery each time was excellent, testing the Cubo defence time and time again. Cubo were able to deal with most of the aerial bombardment, but their were a couple of nervy moments, as one corner resulted in the ball crashing into the Cubo net only to be ruled out for an infringement in the box by the referee, and then with a minute to go another corner landed on the head of a Holloway player and looked destined to break Cubo hearts and bring the scores back level – step up Hutchinson, who was able to pull off a remarkable save, tipping the ball onto the bar before the ball was cleared away to safety. Seconds later the final whistle was blown and Cubo had come away with a very deserved and hard fought 3 points, – each and every one of the Cubo players should be proud of the way they carried on going right to the final whistle.

Results elsewhere went our way, meaning that with 4 games to go the title challenge is still on. All Cubo can do now is take each game as it comes and keep putting the points on the board and pressure on those below us with games in hand.

MoM – Matt Cross. His second half display in particular of controlling and dictating the midfield meant that he was the winner by some distance this week.

 

1XI League vs Ripley Village (Away – 23.02.19) – 2-0 loss

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.

 

Match Report – 1XI League vs Spartans Youth (16.02.19) – 4-0 Win

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.

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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!

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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.

Match Report – 1XI League vs Spelthorne Sports (09.02.19) – 4-1 Win

Line-up: Hutchinson, Seymour, Laing, Torr, Frost (Davies), Peel, Tierney (Cooper), Cross, Chadwick (Brooks), Perkins, Guttridge

Goals: Guttridge, Perkins, Chadwick, Tierney

Following the abandonment of the game vs. Ripley the previous weekend due to the snow, luckily Cubo were back at home on the 4G at the Aspire this weekend and were only one of two league games to go ahead despite the heavy rainfall over the week. This weekend, Cubo came up against the team where it all began this season, AFC Spelthorne Sports, and were looking to replicate that performance and result which saw Cubo walk away as 5-2 victors.

After discussions in the changing room of starting quickly and dominating possession from the off, the game could not have started any better for Cubo as within the first minute, the ball fell to Guttridge on the left hand corner of the box and he fired the ball home with the outside of his foot on the half-volley to give Cubo the lead. The next ten minutes were hectic, with chance after chance falling to Cubo, from freekicks, corners and getting the ball out wide quickly – the two best chances falling to Chadwick who was unlucky to see box a header and a swivelled shot from the edge of the six yard box both crash back off the woodwork. Somehow, Cubo were unable to extend their lead within these first ten minutes, which could have easily seen them 3 up.

Having survived the constant Cubo pressure, Spelthorne began to grow into the game and saw themselves more regularly in the Cubo half and threatening Hutchinson’s net. Their best chances came through their midfield running off the shoulders of their Cubo counterparts and getting between the Cubo defence – luckily Cubo had Hutchinson, the legs of the Cubo defence or the poor Spelthorne finishing to thank when none of these chances were taken. Cubo found it increasingly difficult to get on the ball and the game became very disjointed and sloppy. Fortunately, Cubo were able to dig deep and force some opportunities despite not playing well and as Guttridge showed I the first minute, today was a day where the Cubo forwards were extremely clinical – with Perkins and Chadwick both tapping home from similar positions in the six yard box, one from a corner and another from a cross from the right, sending Cubo into the changing rooms at half-time 3-0 up. A scoreline that certainly did not reflect the performance.

It was clear to see that nobody was happy with the first half performance and it was decided that we had to go back to basics in the second half, trying to keep the ball and move it quickly. The second half performance was all about trying to play the football we know the team can do, and should be playing as we move in to the critical part of the season. The second half started in a more positive way than the first half ended, with Peel, Tierney and Cross finding themselves with more space on the ball and the Cubo defence being troubled less regularly. Cross in particular began to use this space to good effect, driving forward on a few occasions past the Spelthorne midfield and towards their back four, with the final pass just not coming off in order to create an opening.

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The fourth goal came in typical Cubo fashion with some nice interplay down the right hand side before the ball was played across the six yard box, avoiding any outstretched Spelthorne legs, and reaching Tierney at the back post who was able to calmly pass the ball into the open net and notch his second of the season. Now 4 nil up, Cubo had the luxury of making several substitutions, with Cooper, Brooks and Davies all coming on – all providing that added energy that the Cubo team needed, with it being particularly good to see Cooper getting ~30 minutes and putting in a good performance after a long absence through injury. The final quarter of the game became saw a couple of chances fall to both teams, with the Spelthorne keeper preventing Peel from overtaking Torr in their battle for goals scored, and the crossbar preventing Spelthorne from getting on the scoresheet. Unfortunately, the potential clean sheet for the Cubo defence was taken away from them late on, as Torr was pulled out of the back line and the through ball slotted through to the Spelthorne strike who slotted past Hutchinson to make it 4-1 just minutes before the final whistle.

All in all, Cubo will be happy with the 3 points and scoreline, however, they know that if they want to challenge for the league title, their performance must improve as they move into the final quarter of the season – with no better time to start than back at the Aspire next week against title rivals Spartans Youth!

MoM – Mitch Seymour. On a day where nobody stood out, Mitch carried on with his consistent, reliable and strong performances of previous weeks. He is certainly getting through plenty of Guinness’s since his record transfer from rivals Battersea midway through the season.

Match Report – 1XI League vs NPL (26.01.19) – 3-0 Win

Line-up: Hutchinson, Seymour, de la Haye, Laing, Seymour, Shaw, Brooks (Tierney), Cross, Chadwick, Perkins, Guttridge 

Goals: Guttridge, Cross, Perkins

A cold, blustery, winters afternoon greeted the Cubans as they returned to the Aspire Cage, up against an NPL side all too familiar in the art of taking points off the top 6. Cubo knew anything less than a win would  threaten mid table obscurity rather than challenging for the title, such is the nature of the league this season.

A fast start from Cubo saw NPL on the back foot early on and although a few passes were going astray, the boys in baby blue certainly looked in the mood.

20 minutes gone in the first half and Cubo had their first real opening. A typically tenacious Tom Shaw burst through the heart of the NPL midfield and back line saw him all alone and 1v1 with the goalkeeper. Shaw’s attempt to pass it into the net forced a smart save from the NPL no. 1 and groans from the home fans, agonising at their star man for not finishing off what would have been the perfect start.

But the breakthrough did arrive 10 minutes later after Perkins drifted in from
the left hand side, dinking the ball, over the vulnerable back 4, into Matt Cross’s path. Taking it in his stride Cross lifted the bouncing ball effortlessly over the onrushing keeper to give Cubo the lead at the half.

Although they were 1 up, Cubo were not about to rest on their laurels emphasised by Andrew Findleton’s positive, anxious tones in the dressing room at half time. The Caretaker’s tactics seemed to be working well, yet Cubo had been exposed a couple of times by tricky wingers and a lumbering yet effective centre midfielder.

Findleton’s astute adjustments paid dividends in the second period as Cubo saw less of the ball but were doubly effective. A compact, organised back line, thwarted anything that resembled an NPL onslaught in the second half. Brooks continued to break up play and distribute with Guttridge threatening repeatedly on the counter.

And it was the Cubo number 9 who doubled the lead on the hour. Cross had time and space to slide a perfectly weighted pass through to Perkins who drove towards goal with only the keeper to beat. Perkins, unselfishly, yes, UNselfishley, laid the ball back to Guttridge who, no doubt shocked at the uncharacteristic generosity, steadied himself and stroked the ball home into an unguarded net.

Cubo continued to carry out a controlled regulation of NPL attack’s. Davies and Chadwick had successfully tamed the energetic left winger with Mitch Seymour, for a second week in a row, forcing a miserable afternoon for the young number 10 on the right. DLH and Laing remained as composed and destructive as ever.

Energy added to the midfield in the shape of Barney Tierney meant Cubo were even sharper on the counter. A burst of pace from Tierney down the right left the NPL back line for dead. He pulled the ball back to a waiting Guttridge who saw his shot saved by the keeper into the path of Perkins, who planted the ball under the keeper for Cubo’s 3rd.

Cubo’s professional, organised and high octane performance earned the away side an audible dressing down after the game with spirits in the Cubo camp remaining high.

A trip to the lovely town of Ripley this coming Saturday will not be easy, with conditions and exposed pitch perfect ingredients for a potential banana skin. Cubo will have to continue their good form to avoid dropping points against the struggling home side.

MoM: Jordan Guttridge was outstanding in his hold up play and work ethic for the afternoon but the back line and Goalkeeper Jack Hutchinson can be proud of their well deserved clean sheet.

Match Report – 1XI League vs Worcester Park (19.01.19) – 3-1 Win

Line-up: Hutchinson, Laing, Torr, Wensley, Seymour, Frost, Brooks (Dickens), Tierney (Golding), Tulip (Chadwick), Perkins, Guttridge 

Goals: Guttridge x 2, Tulip

Looking to bounce back after a disappointing result last time out versus title challengers Battersea, Cubo faced Worcester Park on a less rainy day than the return fixture in 2018.

With several regulars missing, this presented a good opportunity for some to get the minutes they had deserved after waiting patiently on the bench in previous games. Cubo knew that they would have to turn up and be switched on if they were to overcome this Worcester Park team, despite them being on a bad run of form of late. Unfortunately, as against Battersea last week, Cubo found it hard to stick to the game plan and were unable to string together a sequence of passes in the first ten minutes. Therefore, Cubo tried a more direct route with balls being played over the Worcester Park full-backs to Tulip & Perkins on either wing, and this brought some success with several balls being played across the six yard box and presenting several challenges to the Worcester Park defence. That being said, it wasn’t all Cubo in the first quarter of the game, with the Worcester Park forwards regularly finding space between the Cubo midfield and defence, only to fall short when it came to the final pass / shot.

The game now began to settle down, with one moment of magic seeing Perkins run through the middle of the pitch and thread a perfect cross back across goal where the onrushing Guttridge was met with a simple volley from 2 yards out, with no goalkeeper in front of him. Guttridge unfortunately missed, clearly feeling the effects of having the shits the day before. Not long after though, a a stray ball was played upfield and found itself between the Worcester Park centre half and the on rushing goalkeeper, and following a moment of confusion where the centre back rolled the ball back towards and past the keeper, Guttridge was able to beat the wrong-footed GK to the ball and slide it into the back of the empty net to quickly forget about the horror miss. A goal had been handed to Cubo on plate and should have resulted in them pressing on for more immediately, however, from the kick-off Worcester Park won a throw in on the right hand side and quickly played it to their number 9, who was able to play a quick one two around the Cubo centre back and fire into the bottom left corner from a tight angle – scores back level!

While still finding it difficult to get the ball down and play, the threat down the Cubo wings was ever present, with Torr and Wensley playing some excellent balls over the top and the midfield three being told to find Perkins and Tulips feet as quickly as possible. It was Brooks in midfield who was able to prevent an onrushing Worcester Park midfielder with a superbly timed challenge that allowed the ball to be played to Tulip on the left edge of the box before taking a touch, steadying himself and slotting superbly into the bottom right hand corner and restore the lead for the Cubans. Several more chances fell to Cubo following the second goal, however, soon after Tulip once again found himself through on goal after pouncing on a loose ball with just the WP defender to beat, after being beaten by the bounce of the ball, the home player caught Tulip on the right leg with a studs up challenge which wiped the forward out. Penalty given and unfortunately for Tulip this meant the end to his afternoon, with scans later showing a broken leg that will leave him out for the majority of the season (fingers crossed he can get back and add to his impressive goal tally), how not even a yellow card was shown we will never know! This presented Guttridge the chance to again make up for his horrendous miss earlier and he calmly converted from the spot to give Cubo a more comfortable lead heading into the break.

The second half began and carried on for most of the next 45 minutes in the same manner, with Worcester Park having plenty of possession and trying to get back into the game, however the Cubo team were resolute, professional and withstood all the pressure. Mitch Seymour optimised the Cubo second half, allowing the right winger no time and space, putting in some hard but fair challenges and coming out on top time and time again. There were minimal chances to talk about for either side, although Chadwick was probably the most threatening from a Cubo perspective, beating his man several times down the left. A couple of midfield substitutions were made, with Dickens and Golding slotting in effortlessly following top shifts from Brooks and Tierney. The only real threat to Hutchinson’s goal was in the last five minutes where a header from a set piece cannoned back off the bar, but all in all Cubo coped with everything that was thrown at them.

The referee brought the game to a halt with the score line unchanged since the end of the first half. This is a performance Cubo can be proud of, responding to the loss the week before and holding on to a lead comfortably, which may not have happened last season. With teams around them playing each other over the coming weeks, Cubo should be looking for maximum points and closing in on those at the top of the league.

MoM – Mitch Seymour. As discussed, he optimised the Cubo performance – consistent, reliable and up for the battle as always.

Match Report – 1XI League vs Batttersea (12.01.19) – 1-3 Loss

Line-up: Hutchinson, Laing, de la Haye, Wensley (Torr), Seymour, Shaw (Tierney), Peel, Cross (Brooks), Tulip, Perkins, Chadwick

Goals: Tulip

With the excellent 3 nil win versus Merrow a week earlier, Cubo wanted to carry on 2019 in a similar fashion, with a huge top of the table clash against local rivals Battersea. Cubo made the short trip across Earlsfield with a strong team and the talk prior to the game was all about playing to their strengths, with freedom, while ensuring they matched Battersea physically.

From the off it was clear to see that it was going to be difficult to get the ball down and play on the narrow and bobbly Battersea surface. For the first twenty minutes the game was tight, and it was hard to see where the first opening would come from. It became apparent that Battersea were going to play with their wingers high and look for the ball over the top at any give opportunity, hoping to either get in behind the Cubo defence or force a throw-in, from which their returning seasoned long throw-in master could take advantage of. With twenty-five minutes on the clock, the ball bypassed the Cubo midfield and Seymour was left one-on-one with the Battersea right-winger, as he moved into the box he cut in on to his left foot and slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner, putting Battersea 1-0 up.

Although a big set back to the Cubo team, their heads did not drop and carried on throughout the first half to try and find an opening to level the game up. Peel, Perkins and Tulip all found themselves in space running at the Battersea back line and a few half chances fell including two close range free-kicks, unfortunately all came to no avail. The closest Cubo came to levelling before the break came from a chance created by our very own chief long-thrower, Tom Shaw, who launched the ball into the Battersea box to see Laing flick the ball on, only to see it slide agonisingly wide of the far post!

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The half-time team talk was centred around adapting to the pitch and ensuring that we stay in the game until our chances come, there certainly was an opportunity to exploit the Battersea full backs and we believed that could be the way to get back into the game. The first ten minutes of the second half were all Cubo, pushing high and seeing their forwards get on the ball more and more, however, just like in the first half, no clear-cut chances fell. Against the run of play, Battersea had their first attack of the half and they forced yet another long throw from a dangerous position – from this, Hutchinson pulled off one of the saves of the season, clawing the ball back from behind him as it looked destined for the back of the net. Unfortunately, Cubo were not off the hook yet and the resulting corner was not defended adequately, with the second ball being floated back into the box and onto a Battersea head before finding the bottom corner. After the positive start to the second half, Cubo were now 2 down.

Cubo faced a tough task to get anything out the game but it was clear to see that the motivation was there, knowing that a loss would put us 5 behind the league leaders. Brooks was brought on, with the aim to get on the ball and feed our forwards and straight away this resulted in a big opening for Cubo – with Brook’s forward pass blocked by the Battersea midfield, the ball fell to Peel in the middle, who was able to make some space and play a ball inside the Battersea fullback with the outside of his foot through to Tulip, who bearing down on goal from the left was able to fire home his tenth of the season. Cubo were back in it with about 25 minutes to go!

With the momentum on their side, Cubo kept pressing and pressing, looking for that equaliser. The best chance fell to Chadwick after an overload saw the three Cubo forwards facing two Battersea defenders, and after Perkins fed the ball into the box Chadwick found himself one-on-one with the keeper – unfortunately his shot fired against the side netting rather than between the posts. Cubo hoped that they could create more and more openings like this, however, following a foul from Shaw (which resulted in him being replaced by Tierney as a precaution to avoid him being sent-off), Battersea were able to extend their lead as the shot-come-cross from the set piece was able to float into the back of the Cubo net, killing the momentum they had built up and realistically ending the contest.

The last throw of the dice was to send on Torr and plonk him up top but it is clear to see that his threat comes from set pieces rather than from his movement and positioning during open play. The game therefore petered out and the referee ended a disappointing afternoon for the Cubans. Although the title challenge is still on, particularly with the fixtures coming up over the next month, this result means it is going to require an extended winning streak if Cubo are to be at the summit come the end of the season, hopefully beginning at Worcester Park next weekend.

 MoM – Ralph Wensley. A tough one this week as there were not many stand out performances but Ralph, as ever, was dominant in the air and kept the big strong Battersea forward quiet for much of the game.