AFC Cubo 4-4 Horsley FC

A match report courtesy of the table topping Horsley of last weekend’s pulsating 4-4 draw can be read on their website. Describing it as more of a cup tie is the perfect summary.

It’s also worth noting they label us ‘one of the top 3 sides in the league’ when we have everyone available. Let’s take the belief and ability shown into the final part of the season, and finish on a positive note with all 3 sides.

Match Report here

Abbey Rangers 1-5 AFC Cubo

Date: Sat 9th Feb 2013

Starting line-up: Gareth Stewart, Andy Strickland, Rob Sadler, Joe Darlington, Richard Gough, Mark Bradley, Ian Clarke, Ben McGeown, Jake Flower, Paul Every, Mike Cain

Subs: Jonny Patterson, Ryan Shedwick, Oli Watkins

Cubo returned to Addlestone Moor for the replay of the opening game of the season which was abandoned after 60 minutes due to torrential rain with Cubo leading 2-1 at the time.  The fortunes of the two teams have differed starkly since then with Rangers enjoying a strong first half of the season whilst Cubo have struggled to match last seasons form, leaving them languishing in the lower echelons of the league.

For perhaps the first time this season Cubo gaffer Oli Watkins was able to enjoy the enjoy the benefit of consistent squad availability with only Gaz Stewart and Mike Cain returning to the starting line-up from last weeks impressive win against Oxted.  The home side on the other hand were missing some key players in the middle of the park and up front, a factor which would have a large bearing on the game.

Cubo started the brighter of the two sides and aggressive pressing by the frontmen was immediately making life difficult for the Rangers backline who were forced into rushing clearances.  With Joey D and Goughy dominant at the back Cubo were able to get the ball down and get Sadler and Andy forward to good effect.  The full-backs ability to link up with ‘Nick’ Flower and Every in front of them was a feature of the early stages of the game, particularly down the left where the Rangers right back was having a torrid time of it.  Cubo’s positive start was almost rewarded when Clarkey picked out Mike Cain in the inside right channel but his attempted lob never looked like going in.  The Club Veet expert soon made amends, when Bradders released Every down the right, who in turn delivered a peach of a cross to the near post where Mike finished nicely on the volley.  The score was soon doubled when more pressure from the strikers saw Mike Cain gifted the ball in the Rangers area and when his attempted pass to Flower came back to him he made no mistake, crashing his shot past the keeper to make it 2-0.  With the game drifting away from Rangers, the home side’s manager made some changes to tighten up the middle of the park where the mobility of the Cubo engine room was winning the day against the greater physicality of the home side and Rangers immediately looked the better for it.  With less space to play in Cubo were guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply, bringing pressure on to themselves and lending encouragement to the home Rangers.  Luckily the Cubo backline were able to dominate a relatively toothless Rangers attack, no doubt missing the poise and threat posed by their absentees.  Despite this rough patch Cubo still looked the more likely scorers, though a snap shot from distance by Flower was the closest they came before the half time whistle.

Rangers were looking for a vastly improved performance in the 2nd half but got off to the worst start possible by conceding early on. Mike Cain was once again involved.  His cheeky cross took a deflection before taking an age to fall to Bradders in the box who showed great composure to guide a volley across the keeper and into the far corner.  The goal took the wind out of the home sides sails and with Cubo’s midfield seemingly first to every ball more goals were on the cards.  Chances came and went with Cain and Clarkey both culpable on more than one occasion.  Cubo’s wastefulness came back to bite them when they conceded with 15 mins to go.  A rare break by Rangers was poorly defended down the left hand side and the ball was worked across the box to the Rangers left winger who slotted past Gaz to make it 3-1.  Given Cubo’s poor form this season, and history of throwing away decent leads, this might have been cause for some concern but before these fears even had a chance to crystallise the lead was back to 3 goals.  A neat interchange of passes on the edge of the Rangers box between Bradders, McGeown and Cain gave the in-form striker enough time to have a touch and fire a finish on the turn into the bottom corner.  The gloss on the finish was provided with a few minutes to go when an in-swinging corner from Mike Cain was headed past his own keeper by the big number 5.  An unfortunate end to the game for Rangers’ most impressive player on the day.

An impressive and much needed result for the Baby Blue Army who for the first time displayed the kind of clinical finishing that has so often been lacking from their play.  Gaffer Watkins will be hoping that the recent improvement in availability continues into next week’s fixture against top of the table Horsley.  Cubo have enjoyed 3 good tussles with the league leaders since their promotion to the SEIL, yet it is Horsley who have come away with 3 points on each occasion, a record that the Baby Blue Army will be determined to put right this Saturday.

Scorers: Mike Cain (3), Bradley, OG

Man of the Match: Mike Cain

AFC Cubo 0-2 Horsley

Date: Saturday 24th March 2012

Starting Line-Up: Neil Clark, Thom Hooper, Jonny Patterson, Oli Watkins (c), Joe Darlington, Richard Gough, Ben McGeown, Ryan Shedwick, Chris Gray, Andrew Noble, Mike Cain

Subs: Bobby Sadler, Ed Jackson

Cubo’s run-in from hell began with a visit from Horsley, arguably the most impressive side they have faced this season.  Horsley ran out 2-0 winners in the first fixture between these sides, a high quality game where the home side showed a footballing ability that few teams have matched this season.  In spite of this, the Baby Blue Army had been more than competitive in that game and with Horsley missing some key players coupled with the motivational speech dished out midweek by avid Cubo fan Kriss Akabusi there was plenty of cause to be confident.

With the pre-game talk centred on not giving away cheap goals, Cubo duly proceeded to concede a sloppy goal in the first minute.  A long ball over the top saw the Horsley striker use dubious legal means to get the better of Joey D, and with the referee waving away Cubo’s protests for a foul the ball was pulled back to the supporting Horsley midfield who angled his shot across Clarkey and in off the far post.  1-0 Horsley.  A shocker of a start for Cubo.

With an uphill battle ahead of them Cubo soon found their rhythm and enjoyed a lot of territorial dominance for the rest of the half with Nobes, Chrissy and Mikey dropping deep to receive the ball with good effect.  Having worked some good positions in the Horsley box without getting a shot off, the first chance of the half fell to Chris Gray who found space on the edge of the box after side stepping a challenge, before blazing his effort over the bar.   Noble then saw an outrageous 40 yard strike fly high and wide (always back yourself) before following up this sighter with a fiercely struck curling effort which appeared to be destined for the top corner until the keeper scrambled across just in time to turn it over the bar.  Mike Cain was looking dangerous whenever the ball reached him and he had an effort parried away by the keeper having dribbled his way into the box.  With Hoops getting forward to good effect down the right the home side forced a series of corners which Horsley defended well.  Cubo were playing some of their best football of the season, unfortunately they could not get the goal which their efforts deserved.

Half Time: AFC Cubo 0-1 Horsley

A confident Cubo emerged for the second sure that they would be able to get back into the game, a belief that was helped by Horsley removing their top scorer within 10 minutes of the restart.  Whilst the momentum continued to be with Cubo there was less quality to their work with passes going astray and the ball being shunted long too often, playing into the hands of the aerially dominant Horsley centre half.  Horsley are clearly a well-drilled unit, setting up shop to defend their one goal lead, the discipline and compactness of their defensive shape was proving too much for Cubo to break down.  Despite this Cubo still created enough chances to get back into the game.  Pogo saw a header pushed over the bar, before Mike Cain put the ball in the back of the net only to be pulled back for a Cubo free kick – the ref having stopped playing advantage before allowing the passage of play to run its course – and a big shout for handball in the box was turned down.

With Cubo pressing forward there was always a danger of being caught on the break and only a superb block by skipper Oli Watkins prevented the Horsley striker being given a clear run on goal.  The big moment of the half however came with about 10 minutes to go.  Horsley for once failed to clear yet another Cubo corner and from the ensuing scramble the ball crossed the line not once, but twice.  Given the angle the referee was reliant on his linesman to help him make the decision the linesman kept his flag down.  A remarkable decision given the fact that the ball crossed the line by over a yard on the second occasion.  A tough one to take for Cubo, particularly given how hard they had worked all game, and one that took the stuffing out of them somewhat.

With time ticking away Neil Clark made an excellent one on one save to give Cubo hope of rescuing a point.  The home side were able to create one more chance with the ball breaking to Sadler in the box but his rising drive fizzed just over the bar.   With the final minute approaching Horsley won a free kick on the edge of the box, which their sub struck low and hard beneath the wall and past Clarkey’s despairing dive.

Final Score: AFC Cubo 0-2 Horsley

A massively disappointing result for Cubo, who will feel doubly disappointed not to have secured 3 points despite playing some of their best football of the season.  The failure to score belies some of the excellent attacking football played at times, with the frontline looking dangerous whenever they received the ball into feet.  The two goals and the odd long throw aside, the Cubo backline looked comfortable throughout, though the nature of the goals conceded recently will be of concern.  Credit must go to Horsley who came to Barn Elms without much of the attacking talent which had caused Cubo so many problems earlier in the season.  The away side maintained a compact shape throughout and were clinical in taking the chances that came their way.  Cubo’s quest for 3rd is now out of their hands and they go into next week’s penultimate fixture of the season against Battersea Ironsides knowing that a win is a must if they are to finish above their local rivals in the table.

Apologies to Mr. Akabusi.

Man of the Match: Andrew Noble

Match Report: Benny Mac