The Cubs lined up against the University 4ths this week hoping to get themselves back to winning ways. Goalkeeper Harry Eggo, Andy McMillan and late call off Jamie Braidwood joined long term absentee Callum Ross on the sidelines as Brian Davidson and Brandon McKendrick made returns to the squad. Grant Bell started in goal behind what is becoming a regular back four of Lawrie, McKendrick, Sim and Stephen with a Brownlee starting on either side of the midfield four. Andrew Swinton took up his usual midfield role alongside newbie Grant Loftus with Hagger preferred to Brebner as skipper AJC's forward partner.
Cubs started this match with Loftus linking up well in particular with Ross Brownlee. Inside the 1st ten minutes a corner won and taken by the older Brownlee sibling resulted in the 1st Cubs goal. Having his initial effort cleared back out to him, he launched a beautiful effort back into the box. Swinton knocked the ball on and Adam Jamieson-Caley converted from close range as we have come to expect him to do on a weekly basis.
The Cubs lead was doubled not long after as Loftus slipped a ball between two defenders to the on rushing Hagger who outstripped the final defenders to find himself through on goal. Not one to make things simple for himself, Hagger put his initial effort against the keeper before scrambling in the rebound as the Cubs behind him held their breaths. Hagger perhaps should have won a penalty for the Cubs being brought down in the box but miraculously the ref gave a goal kick when at least a corner was the correct decision.
The 4ths started to come into the game a little more after this with the movement of the their forwards along the back line meaning Sim and Stephen had to be alert and talking if they were to be marking the agile pair. A few short passes from wide areas meant that the forwards had opportunities to get behind the defence but Bell was rarely troubled in the Cubs net with the defence dealing with a string of University corners. It was a blatantly offside position from where deficit ended up being halved from as Sim and McKendrick looked behind themselves to see the Uni forward convert their 1st real chance.
Davidson, Mackay and Brebner were all introduced before half time and it was Brebner in particular who came on to prove a point to manager Stephen who had challenged all the subs to come on and prove him wrong in a late night facebook post. Driving to make space for himself around 30 yards from goal, he could be seen looking up as everyone in attendance expected him to rocket an effort meant for the goal. Instead he slipped the cutest of through balls between the final two defenders and Martin Mackay found himself through for a cool finish with manager Stephen delighted.
Half time came as the Cubs looked back on a very impressive half of football. Mejka for Loftus was the only half time change as the latter, who was quite clearly the most technically gifted player on the field, had started to try and do a little too much when a pass was sometimes the better option.
Brebner was in the thick of things at the start of the second half again, converting the Cubs 1st real chance. Finding himself in space on the right hand side of the box, he rifled a fine effort into the bottom corner to add to the Cubs lead. Unfortunately he missed probably an easier chance just after which would have made the game safe. Chasing down defenders is a rarity for Jack and sticking to this task proved to be his downfall today. With the previous two stoppages in the game being an offside and a minor foul against him, Jack dived in on the 4ths defender. Whilst it was a bit of a lunge, Jack got all of the ball but in spite of this, the ref pulled out a red card. In fairness some refs would have given it and some wouldn't have and it is something that would probably only have been a booking maximum in previous seasons.
To our credit, we saw out the final 20mintues fairly comfortably. Four simultaneous subs just prior to this meant we were fresh and up for it and the 4th were restricted to only a few chances, two of which were again horrendously offside as the back line and the increasingly defensive Ajc left four men offside at one point for the ref to allow play to continue. Sim, AJC and Stephen all rushed back and combined frantically with replacement goalkeeper Vincent Allan to snuff out the attack. The only other real efforts were two long range drives which Allan tipped over the bar and latterly gathered easily. Cubs perhaps could have added to their lead despite being a man down with Hagger and Mackay both being put through in wide areas.
The game however came to a close at 4-1 and Cubs can be delighted with their performance. Man of the match is a hard one this week, mainly because every player gave their all for the team. AJC scored his only chance and ran himself to the ground defensively in the second half whilst the defence and midfield stood firm when we were a man down. Lee Hagger and even Jack Brebner in spite of his red also played very well in a good attacking display. Since there was no vote I'm gonna give it to Lee who made the most of a start up front.
No Sim, Mejka or McMillan next week but I have it on good authority that Callum Ross is ready for a return. Let's get another win folks