Again missing 1st choice keeper Harry Eggo, Jamie Braidwood, Michael Sword, Josh Ager, David Reid and Callum Ross boosted a Cubs squad missing Phil Sim, Brian Davidson, Andrew Lawrie, Grant Loftus, Dan Mejka and the suspended Jack Brebner from the previous week.
Playing against a wild Riverside wind in the 1st half, an early half chance passed for our opponents who looked to put the ball in behind Paul Stephen and Jamie Braidwood at the left hand side of the Cubs defence, with their right winger proving a tough opponent of whom Braidwood did well to handle. Stephen himself grew into the game next to the returning Callum Ross, twice showing some very nice footwork once via his favourite Zidane style turn, to play himself out of defence in moves which stand in manager Eggo later stated in his own words, have no place in no nonsense Sunday League defending.
Cubs started to find their feet in the game however with Lee Hagger missing a good chance to put Cubs ahead. Reminiscent of Jamie and Kane's double sitter the previous season, Cubs should have taken the lead when good work from Ross Brownlee on the right wing led to a double chance for Jamieson-caley and Hagger which both should admit to being a chance that they should have burst the net with. A few attacks were possibly let down by poor control by Hagger and Mackay in the blustery conditions but Cubs did take the lead through Lee Hagger. Like all of Lee's goals to this point, it was a shite goal, but it was a welcome lead against the wind. Not long after Grant Bell did very well to keep the 1st on target Dusa effort out but let himself down a few minutes later, allowing a 40yard strike from the Dusa dangerman to catch the wind and fly into the Cubs net. The goalscorer looked a good player, but he would have fitted in well in a Spartans team, diving after no contact from a Stephen tackle before going down easily again which infuriated Swinton, Stephen and Braidwood when the ref gave a free kick.
Stephen, Mackay and Braidwood started the 2nd half on the side as Cubs opened the half brightly. With the wind no longer against us it was all Cubs, especially down the right hand side with R. Brownlee and McKendrick dovetailing well to pin Dusa back. Midway through a period of sustained pressure, Stephen reintroduced Mackay and Yug quickly made the change count, working hard to make space for himself with Jamieson-Caley on hand as always for his 8th league goal of the season. The goal was what we needed and we proceeded to produce our best half of football of the season.
Ager now playing wide after starting centrally, got a deserved 1st goal for the Cubs receiving a pass from Andrew Swinton and bursting through to convert. The impressive Swinton was involved again with his cross cum shot from the right coming back to Jamie Braidwood on the goaline. As with pretty much all of Jamie's goals he duly converted from zero yards out to put the Cubs 4-1 up. Callum Ross was given his 1st chance in his favoured forward position when Stephen previously reintroduced himself for Hagger to line up along side Goose, who clearly wishes he was still a Cub, in the backline. The big twin, who had earlier took a head knock, took his chance well using his strength to comfortably brush off the defenders, finding himself through on goal and finishing well. Further chances followed for the Cubs with Andrew Swinton having two long range drives blocked well and David “Reno” Reid firing over when he should have scored following a brilliant Cubs move.
With the win in the bag, Stephen swapped himself with forward Ross for the last 10minutes in a move that the gaffer feels should happen every week. Before he could have any impact however, Hagger finally scored a goal worth bragging about. Taking down a long ball from stand in keeper Jamieson-caley with outside of his foot, his unusually fantastic 1st touch put him past the final two defenders and he burst through to fire past the keeper for a great goal. Hagger, who had earlier passed up two fantastic headed chances from Mackey and Jamieson-caley crosses should have completed his hat-trick with two minutes left on the clock. Paul Stephen chased down a pass into the right wing, bringing the ball inside before sticking the ball through a defenders legs. The gaffer wishes he went himself in hindsight, but instead unselfishly picked out Hagger who had burst in front of Reid and Swinton, desperate for his hat-trick. Lee blew his chance however, firing over the bar when he should have scored.
Ross Brownlee fired a great effort wide before Stephen had time to force one more corner for the Cubs after chasing down and tackling the Dusa keeper. He probably shouldn't have tried to score straight from the corner however as the keeper gathered his attempt at the 2nd time of asking.
Such was the performance the second half I'm gonna run through every player this week.
Grant Bell – Made a brilliant save to keep the score level after the ball broke behind the Cubs defence.
Brandon McKendrick – Dovetailed well with R.Brownlee and Yug keeping Dusa pinned back for long periods. Throw ins were always a threat.
Jamie Braidwood – Dealt well with Dusa's main threat whilst at left back. Opportunist's goal when pushed further up.
Callum Ross – Slotted back into the defence comfortably after a period out through injury. Took his 2nd half forward opportunity within seconds to score a great goal
Paul Stephen – Won my headers and showed some skills I normally save for 5s. Comfortable as long as the ball wasn't played between the defence and the goalkeeper.
Ross Brownlee – Instrumental in early 2nd half pressure. Looks the part in new more attacking role. Could have scored.
Josh Ager – Always looked for the ball and drove at the defence at every opportunity. A great addition to the squad.
Andrew Swinton – A performance we have come to expect from the midfielder. Got stuck in and contributed to the attack and the defence in equal fashion.
Martin Mackay – After his 1st touch let him down in the 1st half, he put in a great second half performance, beating men and creating chances helping to pin the Dusa defence back for much of the half. Re-introduction led to Cubs taking the lead.
Adam Jamison-Caley – Like Swinton, we had the performance that we now expect from the captain. Took his goal well when Cubs needed a breakthrough and even managed a second assist in the match when he replaced Grant Bell in nets for the last half hour.
Lee Hagger – Chased down lost causes, getting in behind the Dusa defence at every opportunity. Scored two and knows himself he could have had more in spite of a very good game.
Callum Brownlee – Man of the match. What a difference from the younger Brownlee. Flew into tackles at left back and at centre midfield. Won everything. Needs to continue in this fashion. Even Ross was impressed.
Michael Sword – Clearly wishes he was still a Cub. Strolled through the game. Could always hear his voice and he can kick the ball much further than everyone else with some beautiful balls out of defence.
David Reid – Second game for the Cubs and yet to lose. Played in the holding midfield role and played it well. Drifted from side to side breaking up potential Dusa counter attacks behind our attacking fullbacks. Beautiful through ball set up the Ross goal and should have scored himself.