Sunday 6th May 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
A memorable day at Farnborough Football Club, and the Senior Vets also won 2-1
When today’s headlines are wrapping chips I somehow think that the day will not be remembered for the football. More on that shortly.
Of course the football mattered – it always does though it can pale into insignificance under extraordinary circumstances. We were looking to avenge a defeat against today’s opponents two weeks ago, we were on our home turf, and looking for a win that would give us double figures in the W column – a matter of great importance to the management team.
Anyway the heavy showers we have been having recently could not stop the game being played on the now ultra drained clay of Farrow Fields as both of the club’s Vets teams found themselves playing at home and their stories became intertwined today in scenes never seen before at the club. More on that in a little while – I want to tell you about the game first.
The Senior Vets on display consisted of Gary Fentiman in goal; Mick O’Flynn, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard and Patrice Mongelard in defence; George Kleanthous, Rob Lipscomb, Ian Shoebridge and Chris Webb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Roger French up front. Paul Smith, Chris Bourlet and Colin Brazier made up our reinforcements.
As we warmed up for our match on the top pitch a rumour started to circulate that the AFC Greenwich Vets out to play our Young Vets on our big pitch included in their midst a Millwall Lioness – yes a woman (not only not a vet, but not a man either). My eyesight is not what it used to be and you cannot tell with ponytails these days but I recall thinking to myself that if the rumour was correct then I hoped the tackles would not be so hard – the eventual 10-0 scoreline suggests that was indeed the case. I was certainly expecting harder tackles in our game and what a well-contested affair it turned out to be with credit due to both teams - and not only for the spirit in which the game was played.
The pitch was greasy and in patches a bit sticky, but on the whole this was a very good flat surface for the passing football that both teams aspired to play throughout. The opening exchanges were even though with Farnborough showing more attacking intent but not really troubling the Riverside keeper. In fact it was Gary Fentiman who was called to make the first serious save as he tipped a long range shot over the bar acrobatically (a bit like Cech I thought, magnanimously). But the more structured play belonged to Farnborough as we probed down both flanks and our defence stood firm and remained vigilant. When we scored about twenty-five minutes into the game it was not against the run of play as Chris Webb spotted the well-timed run of Mick O’Flynn overlapping on the right and cutting inside. The perfectly weighted and angled ball was threaded through for Mick to run on unchallenged and steady himself for a rare goal. The Riverside keeper did well to block the close range shot but the ball fell kindly for Mick now beyond the keeper, with an empty goal beckoning and having to worry about one covering defender who was a little off balance and facing the wrong way but Mick could not apply the decisive finish just yet – he seemed to slice the ball which reared up off the defender before finally being tapped in by Mick. Talk about milking the moment but still Mick was rightly showered with plaudits for breaking the deadlock in such an enterprising fashion.
We had Riverside on the back foot but without really engineering a second chance – we had a few corners, sniffed around the box but could not secure the cushion of a second goal. Of course, we still had to work hard particularly in midfield where Riverside were a serious proposition. Other highlights of the first half: a first time pass with the outside of the foot from Patrice Mongelard (showered with much appreciated compliments from the touch line from Colin Brazier) that nearly put Chris Webb through; and a clash of heads which required a Riverside player to be bandaged – but no air ambulance for Robin Lipscomb who uncharacteristically walked away from the challenge without any fuss. As half time approached it was increasingly clear that George Kleanthous was regaining his fitness and his contributions were becoming more telling.
True to their spirit Riverside started the second half better than we did and we had to work hard to keep them out in the first quarter of an hour. Paradoxically Ian Shoebridge had a golden opportunity to put us two up. With an open goal seemingly at his mercy and a clear run on goal he appeared to stumble at the crucial moment and shinned the ball well wide from six yards out. Moments later Riverside got a deserved equaliser as we made a hash of clearing our lines on the right and the ball was played into our box, controlled very well and placed with power into the bottom corner by a cultured Riverside left foot. Game on. We really had to be strong then – and Gary Fentiman had to dive bravely at the feet of two on rushing Riverside forward in the box, and they also hit the post in a goal mouth scramble. We dug deep.
Paul Smith and Chris Bourlet joined us for the last half hour, replacing Roger French and Mick O’Flynn. Well I have to be honest the game could have gone either way and a draw seemed even more likely when our top marksman Andy Faulks (two hat-tricks against Riverside around this period last season) limped off with about fifteen minutes left and Colin Brazier came on. Five minutes later Colin got his head to an Ian Shoebridge corner to loop the ball over the Riverside keeper’s outstretched hands into the back of the net. Colin was showered with the congratulations of his team mates for a rare-spotted headed goal and one that was the difference between the two sides in the end. Colin had achieved the rare distinction of having won two matches inside 90 minutes – having performed for the Young Vets in most of their first half and for the Senior Vets in part of our second half. We held out until the final whistle from Mick Gearing (curiously reticent to give handballs today unlike last Tuesday).
That was not the end of the day’s excitement if I can put it that way. There was a bigger frisson from the unexpected presence in our showers, no not of Andy Faulks, but of the aforementioned lady from the Young Vets’ opponents. It was surreal, unnerving to have a twenty-something athletic woman in the showers, in what can be described as a beach volleyball outfit, in the midst of not so young men in their birthday outfit, showering in total monk-like silence, and in admiration of the plasterwork on our shower room ceiling. We did find time later to also admire the wonderful spread that Mrs Shoebridge showered upon us – which we could not finish despite Roger French’ best efforts. Like the rest of the team who all played their part today – Roger, pleased with the performance and the result, was a calm, benign presence, only his kit bag seemed aggressive as it tripped young Jack Connelly.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous – looking more like his old self, for a performance full of belief that only lacked a goal.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous