Battersea Ironsides 1-1 AFC Cubo

Date: Saturday 12th September 2015

Venue: Battersea Ironsides FC

Starting line-up: Gaz Stewart, Greg Tett, Brad Wilkie, Alan Clarke, Ralph Wensley, Ben McGeown, Chris Pyke, Ian Clarke, Oli Perkins (c), Ryan Shedwick, Harry Tulip

Sub: Oli Watkins

Following last week’s tremendous 3-1 win against title contenders Balham Cubo entered another local derby with some much needed confidence after what has been the Club’s worst ever start to a season.  Patchy availability and an absent manager throughout August have not helped the cause but with wedding season finally out of the way a more positive autumn beckons.  Despite the absence of Elliot Connolly and last week’s hat-trick hero Martin Ansell, Cubo were able to name a strong squad with the gaffer strolling back into the midfield and Gaz Stewart returning in nets.

Playing down the hill in the first half Cubo found themselves pegged in by last year’s runners-up, whose unflinching commitment to getting the ball in the mixer doesn’t get the credit it deserves.  In previous seasons Cubo haven’t dealt with this well but with Gaz Stewart in commanding form, claiming anything that came near his six yard box and the rest of the side showing real sharpness the crowd were treated to the sight of Battersea going short on a throw-in, unbelievable scenes.

As the half wore on Cubo grew into the game and looked dangerous when they were able to move the ball across the pitch.  Brad Wilkie in particular was getting forward well from full back and one burst down the right saw him whip a cross in to the back post that Shedders was just unable to get a foot on.  The full back was involved again shortly afterwards when a corner dropped to him on the penalty spot however with the goal in front of him he was unable to direct his volley on target.  The goal came shortly afterwards when a Oli Perkins corner was nodded back across goal by Shedders and Harry Tulip, making an emotional return to his previous club, had time to control and finish to give Cubo the lead.  Out of respect for his previous employers the Geordie marksman celebrated conservatively, though he was seen discretely kissing the Cubo badge on the way back to the halfway line.

Even with Cubo slightly on top at this stage, Battersea’s ability from set-pieces makes them a very dangerous opposition and it was only through the sharpness of Alan Clarke and Ralph Wensley who were doing a great job mopping up any flick-ons that prevented Gaz Stewart from having to make a save.  Before the half was over there was still time for Brad to do his best Cafu impression, storming down the line and unleashing a rasping half volley that rippled the top of the net, and the returning Ben McG should have done better when a Tulip cross picked him out at the back stick only for the gaffer to shin his attempted shot straight back to the striker on the touchline.

Having played with the slope in the first half Cubo were bound to be up against it in the second half and this proved to be the case.  From the off Battersea were camped in the Cubo half and it was a case of backs to the wall defending for the boys in baby blue.  However with the Cubo backline continuing to excel in dealing with the aerial ball, beyond claiming crosses Gaz was not forced into a save until the 70th minute when the Battersea striker managed to get away from his marker and get a shot off which the big Taff parried round the post.  At the other end there was plenty of space for Cubo to attack but with the exertions of the game catching up with them the quality of pass was not there to release the front men.  Time and again Cubo won the ball back before gifting possession back to the home side in a very frustrating period of the game.

With 15 minutes to go it looked as if the game was going to be put to bed when a long throw into the box was flicked on by Oli Perkins and Harry Tulip reacted first and got boot to ball at full stretch but could only watch as the ball rocketed off the outside of the post.  With the game entering the final ten minutes the referee was increasing being called upon to resolve petty arguments around the pitch and it was rare for the game to flow more than a minute without some sort of foul being awarded.

With the home side chucking men forward the pressure was building but with no clear changes being created it looked like Cubo would be celebrating a repeat of last season’s victory here.  Unfortunately this was not to be, a long ball over the top saw Gaz Stewart’s clearance ricochet off of the Battersea forward who was left with the simple task of tapping the ball home to level things up with six minutes to go.  A gut-wrenching goal to concede for the Cubans, and particularly for the previously flawless Stewart.  The final six minutes were played out without any further incident other than another wild left-footed strike from Ben McG when much better options were available.

Probably a fair result in the end based on the balance of the two halves, though Cubo will feel disappointed that they did not secure the three points having led for so long.  Another positive result though against a side who are always very tough opponents and will no doubt be in the mix as the season progresses.

Goal: Harry Tulip

MOTM: Ralph Wensley

AFC Cubo 2-3 Project Clapham

Date: Sat 7th February 2015

Goals: Harry Tulip, Ben McGeown

Cubo once again found themselves on the wrong end of a tight game in a local derby against newly promoted Project Clapham.  With pitch conditions making it difficult to play much football it was the away side who started the brighter keeping the home side pegged back in their own half.

The first chance fell to Clapham when a long ball saw the left winger through on goal, however a superb last ditch tackle by J-Pat prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity.  Cubo grew into the game with Chris Pyke finding himself in some good shooting positions only to see the ball end up in the same patch of woodland behind the goal both times.

Cubo’s best chance of the half fell to Harry who was released by a long pass into the left hand channel. The Alan Pardew loving Geordie accelerated away from the full back into the area but the angle was tight and the keeper was able to party his effort to safety.

Clapham a biggest threat was coming from their set-piece, which were being delivered with quality on every occasion. Cubo had received a couple of warnings before a contested free kick was whipped into the box and headed home from six yards out giving Brad in goal no chance.

The home side struck back in the second half when an Ian Clarke corner was nodded in from two yards out by Harry Tulip.  The Cubans would have backed themselves from this position having started the better of the two sides but they were soon behind again when another contentious decision by the ref saw Clapham awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Brad could once again only watch as the ball was curled into the top corner to make it 2-1.

The score was extended when Pogo was adjudged to have handled a cross that he had little chance of moving out of the way of and the Clapham skipper tucked it away with aplomb.  A real sucker punch for the Cubans.

A late goal by Ben McG following excellent work down the left by Harry Tulip made the last few minutes interesting but Pykey was unable to keep his late header beneath the bar.
A tight game that could have gone either way. Cubo will rue the dropped points but it was Clapham who scored at the decisive points in the game to reverse the scoreline from the first fixture between these two sides this season.

AFC Cubo 2nd XI 3-1 London Lionhearts

Date: Saturday 12th May, 10.30am KO

Venue: Banstead FC

Starting XI: Neil Clark, Stevie T, Pally, Alan Clarke, Jim McGeown, Salty (C), Trev Moody, Pete Hill, Andy Burt, Steve Keegan, Tim Jones.

Subs: Chris Grayson, JPatt, Matt Turner, Ryan Shedwick, Paul Every.

AFC Cubo took part in the Wimbledon Trophy final on Saturday morning, in a predictably competitive game against London Lionhearts. Player/Manager Mike Thomas, in probably his last match for the Baby Blue Army, was able to name a very strong side as well as a bench consisting of 5 players. With a number of spectators from the club watching, as well as friends and family, there was very much a carnival mood. Such joy was evident as Benny Mac polished off a bottle of water (!), Oli confidently dispatching not one but two (!!) cups of tea, Sadler tucking into a banana (!!!) and Bradders, coach for the day, sporting a rather flashy canvas rucksack.

Cubo started the match very brightly with Player of the Season Alan Clarke winning a couple of early headers and setting the tone for another assured display. On the left hand side Andy Burt was able to showcase his excellent delivery, while PeteHill™, man of the match in the last final Cubo contested, was showing signs he is truly a big game player.

The versatile Stevie T, operating at right back, his 32nd different role of his Cubo career, was showing typical composure and with Salty and Alexandr Trev-Hleb mixing up combinations of blood and thunder effort, sideways passing, and Zoolander 90° turns things looked good.

The first real chance of the match saw unpredictable marksman Steve Keegan just being adjudged offside before controlling and finishing from Burt’s delivery, but in fairness the PROPER linesman did appear to get the decision right. Full of confidence the boy from Boro pulled off a truly remarkable piece of skill a few minutes later, scooping the ball over the head of the Lionhearts left back before clipping a teasing cross to the back stick where Jones was just unable to guide his header on target. Magical stuff leading to #KeeganIsBoxOffice trending in the UK on Twitter within seconds.

Tim Jones was holding the ball up extremely well, drifting into the left channel and offering the likes of Jim an easy ball into feet, and with Cubo able to get men forward it seemed an opening Baby Blue coloured goal was likely. However Lionhearts were able to offer a threat on the counter and would have been disappointed not to work “Cu-bo-2s, Num-ber-1 Cubo2sCubo2s Num-ber-1”, Neil Clark, wastefully missing the target from a brace of presentable opportunities.

Fashion watch – Hoops and Clare Galloway opting for double denim, Clarkey Snr with a strong beard, MTM and Northy wearing some natty chocolate slacks, Ben, Denno and Oli repping strong merch, Sadler looking like an extra from an Ordinary Boys video circa summer 2004, Nobes – hench, Jonesy – frail and John Glenn sporting the forlorn expression of a man who’d drunk too much red wine the previous evening.

Half Time: AFC Cubo 0-0 London Lionhearts

After a tactical switch saw Hill and Burt swap wings for the 2nd half, in an attempt to expose the potential weak link that was the Lions right back, Cubo were delighted to take the lead after 50 minutes. The Lionhearts keeper had not appeared at all comfortable with crosses in the first half, and these Vampire-like tendencies were his undoing as the deadlock was broken. After flapping at a Burt free kick from the right, a brief scramble saw Tim Jones roll the ball into the unguarded net.

Cubo tails were up, but it was Lionhearts that got back into the game and were able to equalise. Clark made a top draw save in a one-on-one situation, and then was again required to get down low to his left as Lionhearts rushed through the heart of the Cubo defences. At the 3rd time of asking Lionhearts #7 was able to spring the offside trap and surge from his central midfield berth. He coolly rounded the fine haired custodian of the Cubo net to tie things up at 1-1.

The first change for Cubo saw Chris Grayson replace Jim at LB, before Paul Every was introduced to take advantage of the increasingly stretched play, replacing the impressive Keegs. With his very first touch the Plymouthian Poacher, a moniker he has unlikely to have ever been referred as nor ever again, forced a fine save from the Lionhearts keeper. This led to another Burt set-piece, and subsequently….this.

Alan Clarke with a typically forceful ‘arrive’ at the back post, a firm downward header and Cubo back on top. 2-1.

Rather than go into their shells, Cubo went hunting for a 3rd that would kill the game off. Every continued to threaten while Burt unleashed an absolute thunderbolt from 25 yards which crashed agonisingly off the underside of the bar and onto, not over, the goal line. Banstead didn’t appear to have goal-line technology, instead opting to restock their burger van, but following a glowing review from MTM concerning the beef, and a trustworthy assistant, this appeared to be the right allocation of funds.

Jonny Patterson’s introduction for Jones saw Ryan and Turns unluckily miss out on some action, but any signs of disappointment were forgotten when Burt swung in a cross from the left which nestled into the top corner. Did he mean it? I would say judge for yourself from the following footage but sadly Northy’s previously exemplary camera work went awry during the build up.

Final Score: AFC Cubo 2nd XI 3-1 London Lionhearts

A great display by Cubo, which featured big performances across the midfield, excellent contributions from the hard working forwards and a defence that was rarely breached. When it was, Clarky made everything he was required to do look very easy indeed.

The Wimbledon Trophy is a great way to sign off an up and down season, but with some new players bedded in, the 2s will hope to have a eal crack at promotion in 2012/13.

Scorers: Tim Jones, Alan Clarke, Andy Burt.

Man of the Match: Satal Thethy – combined his usual determination and fitness with some deft touches and excelled in the closing stages as the heat took its toll on lesser mortals.

Match Report: Hoops