Date: Saturday 3rd March 2012, 3pm KO
Venue: Weston Green Sports Ground
Starting Line-up: Gary Stewart, Oli Watkins (c), Goughy, Joe Darlington, Hung Nguyen, Jonny Patterson, Tom Hooper, Ben McGeown, Ryan Shedwick, Chris Gray, Paul Every
Subs: Jacko, Bobby Sadler, Mark Bradley
Cubo’s long-standing relationship with Weston dates back to their time together in Division Two of the Surrey South Eastern Combination. During this time they have been lucky enough to see the development of Weston from a slightly narky team with a ridiculous manager into the mentally unhinged side with a ridiculous manger that they are today. The first fixture between these sides in the 2011/12 season ended 1-1, though the real highlight was the performance of the referee. Having shamelessly penalised Weston for most of the fouls they committed, which included two yellows for their star striker (one for a deliberate stamp), he then had the arrogance to take offence at a sustained volley of abuse from the Weston manager, sending him off as well. Outrageous behaviour. Whilst Weston went home with only a point that day, they can be proud of having bossed the disciplinary stakes, ending the game having collected 3 red cards and 5 yellows. If this was Scottish football, technically they would have won the game.
Cubo were able to name a strong line-up with skipper Watkins, Joey D and Goughy forming a formidable back three, supported out-wide by the athleticism of Hung and the random chat tekkers of J-Pat. Following an impressive performance last week, midfield schemer Tom ‘Hoops’ Hooper retained his place in midfield alongside a panda-eyed Benny Mac. The long term absence of Northy and Billy has left Cubo without a natural ‘’Ooohh, that’s a bit late…’’ player in the middle of the park but the return of yellow card magnet Ryan Shedwick to the starting line-up after a 4 month lay-off goes a long way to filling this gap. With Simon Daunter busy hurling his not inconsiderable bulk down the slopes somewhere in the Alps, and Noble busy playing with kids in Oxfordshire, Cubo looked to the slightly less physically imposing pairing of Chrissy Gray and Paul Every for the goals to secure another 3 points at WGS.
As with all fixtures between these sides the pace from the off was frenetic. The early morning rain had not done enough to soften the bobbly nature of the pitch and this made passing, particularly in the centre of the pitch difficult. A combination of Weston’s aggressive pressing of the ball and the untrustworthy surface meant that Cubo were struggling to move the ball around with any confidence and were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply through the first half. Whilst they were withouth their two main goal threats, S. Wright and M. Nash, Weston had managed to call upon a couple of decent replacements, and the number 10 in particular looked like a handful whenever the ball reached his feet. The first chance of the game fell to the home team when Cubo failed to clear their lines and a diagonal ball into the box was toe poked wide by the Weston midfielder who will be disappointed not to have scored.
Any football Cubo did play was coming down their left hand side where Pogo, Ryan and Every were combining to good effect, though in truth Cubo were struggling to get men up in support of their front pairing and Weston’s defence were relatively comfortable. Cubo’s first chance fell to Ryan on the edge of the box but he was unable to keep his volley down, instead choosing to launch the ball back towards Barn Elms where it has been added to the Cubo stash. Next up came a chance for Paul Every, who with the ball falling to him on his left boot in the box was unable to keep his effort down. A tense first half for both teams with little football on display.
Half Time: Weston Green Sports 0-0 AFC Cubo
A slow start to the second half by Cubo saw Weston immediately win a corner and the first ten minutes were marked by the home side being on the front foot. They should have taken the lead shortly afterwards when a Cubo corner (which Hoops took off of Goughy’s head when he looked in a prime position to score…) was cleared hopefully forward releasing the Weston number 10. Beating Joey D in a foot race he cut inside the box only to see his effort blocked by a great save by Gary Stewart. The danger wasn’t over though with the rebound falling to the supporting Weston midfielder, who could only watch as his first time effort rose just enough to clip the bar of the empty goal. A big let off for Cubo.
With Ryan showing signs of tiring following a long spell out Jacko was introduced to the fold and had an almost immediate impact. With another man to play off the shoulder of the suspect Weston defence, and Chrissy moved back to a more familiar role Cubo immediately looked more threatening and had the lead within 5 minutes. Nice interchange between Chris and Jacko saw the big lad secure a lucky bounce off a challenge before opeing up his body and curling a sumptuous finish into the top (ish) corner. With their noses in front it was Cubo who now looked like the more dangerous side.
The introduction of Bradders and Sadler added some steel in the middle of the pitch and some energy out wide but despite this and some stout defending from Watkins, Gough and Darlo, luck still had a part to play in keeping the home side at bay. A corner was only partially cleared before being whipped back in to the far post where a Weston header was tipped onto the underside of the bar by Australia bound keeper Gary Stewart. The keepers return to form following a difficult start to life in the Surrey Elite has been a real boon for the Baby Blue Army and he will be sorely missed in the coming weeks. However this was no backs to the wall job, Cubo continued to look dangerous and able to play quite a bit of football in the Weston half. Firstly, a break down the left saw Ben McGeown flash a ball across the face of the goal which was crying out to be finished before Chrissy Gray popped up with a superb winner. Picking the ball up on the right touchline, he nut-megged his marker from about 3 yards away before carrying the ball into the area, dancing round another defender and finishing beneath the onrushing keeper to put the game to bed. 2-0 Cubo.
With less than 10 minutes to go Weston knew they were beaten and despite a couple of hopeful punts into the box which ping-ponged around a bit, Gaz was never forced into a save. In the closing minutes, the Weston centre half managed to get himself sent off for a second booking, ensuring that even in defeat Weston will never be bettered in the collection of bookings.
Despite Weston fielding a slightly weakened line-up this was a superb win for the Cubans, who will no doubt take extra pleasure in the result given the historic rivalry between these two clubs. Two wins in two weeks against sides in and around them in the league has given Cubo an excellent chance of securing 3rd place, maintaining the momentum over the next couple of weeks will be key.
Final Score: Weston Green Sports 0-2 AFC Cubo
Goals: Jacko, Chrissy Gray
MOTM: Ben McGeown
Match Report: Benny Mac