Sunday 1st September 2013
By Gary Rosslee
Well what a game to kick off the new 2013/14 campaign for the Farnborough Young vets and what a nightmare start for yours truly who not only has the monumental task of (a) having to remember the match and key moments in its entirety and (b) have to be able to translate into a literacy account of this pulsating match, so without further ado well here goes nothing!
There were worrying signs going into today’s match as we made our journey to the not so leafy suburb of Lee Green, South East London; especially if the communication between Farnborough manager and skipper was anything to go by on that Sunday 1st of September morning!
‘Hello Tant PLEASE can you make sure you bring some decent footballs for us to warm up with instead of those cr*p ones we always use?’
‘Gary; in the words of the Millwall kit man, urm………. we have a slight problem mate’
So not only was our kit missing but so was half of our squad in fact we were missing at least 9 players of which 6 of just happened to be defenders so as you can see the preparation going into this game could have been a bit better.
We arrived in our depleted numbers to ‘SOZO House of Praise Community Centre’ to pit our wits against Greenwich Challenge FC, a team we had never faced before and to be fair they turned out to be quite a decent and tenacious side. The building in which we got changed in resembled an old 4 bedroom 2 bathroom Victorian house with our changing room clearly being the children’s room in a former life if the various Disney and Pixel Animation character stickers on the walls were anything to go by. Quite apt really as we needed to dig deep and show some character today as we were forced to line up as follows.
G. Rosslee ©
B. Clunn C. Rawley N. Connelly P. Tanton
J. Miller J. St.John D. Wyatt G. Napier
B. Grainger J. Delaney
Farnborough lost the toss but with the hosts opting to ‘stay as we are’ the visitors kicked off with the nice warm September sun beaming down on their backs and OK yes they showed early signs of ring rust and the disjointedness of this makeshift team was there for everybody to see but they were able to weather whatever Greenwich threw at them and the home team’s chances were very limited in the first 10 or 15 minutes; their only real decent chance if any coming from a direct free kick right on the edge of the 18 yard box after a needless foul was committed, but the direct effort failed to make it through the crowded Farnborough penalty area.
The opening goal of the game went to the home side as hesitation in the Farnborough penalty area allowed for the Greenwich midfielder to show good feet and close control as the defence came to a complete standstill believing the ball had gone out for a goal kick but he was able to play a neat good one-two that then allowed him to square the ball across the 6 yard box to his unmarked centre forward who resembled a certain Ledley King and he duly obliged to tap in what will probably be his easiest goal of the season, 1-0 Greenwich Challenge.
From then on the tide of the half then completely turned as the Farnborough midfield started to see a lot more of the ball and it was Mr Vitamin D Jim St John who was on hand to play an excellent weighted through ball to last season’s top scorer Barry Grainger who bent his run expertly and latched on to the ball, he still had a fair amount to do as the defender was on his back and the goalkeeper edged forward but Barry showed great composure to wrong foot the Greenwich #1 and coolly finish form some 8-10 yards out, 1-1.
The one way traffic then ensued as Jason Miller stuck an excellent free kick onto the head of Jim St John who was able to head the ball back across goal to put the Guild, 1-2 up and then the same combination struck again minutes later as a Jason Miller corner out on the right hand side was met once again by the tanned forehead of Jim St John; claims from the home side that the corner had gone out of play but even the home side’s linesman was having none of it, 1-3 OBG’s.
Some good work by Gary Napier saw him play John Delaney in around the back of the defence but he was unlucky not to open his account as the Greenwich goalkeeper pulled off a very good save low down to his left to keep the deficit at 2 goals. Gary then went from provider to scorer as the play was started all the way back from Rosslee to Paul Tanton to Gary out wide who skipped past 2 defenders and then cut into the box and finished coolly over the onrushing keeper, 1-4 OBG’s.
Farnborough continued to probe and ask further questions of the Greenwich defence and Barry Grainger was on hand to net his second of the match with the goal of the game. The Greenwich goalkeeper for some reason found himself in no man’s land and Barry had the presence of mind to spot him too far over to one side of his goal and curled a 40 yard unstoppable effort that must have started off 10 yards wide of the goal when it left his left foot, 1-5 OBG’s. Farnborough gifted the home side a second goal and gave Greenwich some further encouragement right on the stroke of half time as both Chris Rawley and Rosslee made comical attempts to clear a loose ball with the latter completely mistiming his clearance as the ball sat up nicely for the centre forward to roll the ball home into an empty net, 2-5 OBG’s.
Half time and Farnborough rung a few changes as they introduced Brett Cheesman for his first outing since picking up a nasty ankle injury last January; Cheesman teamed up with Rawley at the centre of defence with Neil Connelly shifting out to left back while Tony Sanders debuted at right back.
The restart didn’t take long for the onlookers to witness a 10th goal of the match and to be fair this was right up there with the farcical goal that Greenwich scored right on half time. An ambitious Farnborough lofted pass over the top was plucked from the air by a safe pair of hands but unfortunately for Greenwich this was not their goalkeeper no this was their defender on the half-way line as he was led to believe there would be a call for offside, this never materialised and Farnborough took the free kick quickly that allowed Farnborough to create an attack from out wide on the right wing and then square the ball for St John to unleash an unerring effort low into the net for his first ever hat-trick for the Young Vets, 2-6 OBG’s.
Rosslee was then slow to come off of his line which allowed the Greenwich centre forward to poke the ball under him to give the home side a glimmer of hope, 3-6 OBG’s; however Farnborough bounced right back as Gary Napier did well to collect an over hit ball out wide beat his man and cut ion side to score a carbon copy of his previous goal in the first half, 3-7 OBG’s. John Delaney looked destined to get on the score sheet but was thwarted once again by the Greenwich keeper as he pulled off an excellent reaction save low down to his left once again!
Greenwich to their credit though never gave up the ghost and showed great determination and tenacity to try and get back into the game and they nearly grabbed a goal back via a most unlucky source as a wicked cross was fizzed across the 6 yard box and deflected off of Tony Sanders as it headed goalwards. Rosslee was on hand to save the ricochet as well as Tony’s blushes! However not to be undone Tony would have his final say and a hand in Greenwich’s 4th goal as he lunged needlessly in from behind the marauding centre forward leaving the referee no choice to point to the spot and there were no complaints from the Farnborough 11.
The Greenwich skipper pulled the scores back from the spot with an unstoppable penalty right in to the bottom corner although Rosslee went the right way there was nothing he could do to save it, 4-7 OBG’s.
Jim St John was on hand to score his 4th and Farnborough’s 8th as he was able to poke home a Barry Grainger corner from close range after the ball somehow evaded every Greenwich player defending the corner, 4-8. but again Greenwich rallied back and scored a good team goal as a flowing move of passes was finished off high into the net almost Alan Shearer-esque circa 1996 European championships against Holland at Wembley stadium, 5-8 OBG’s.
There was even somehow enough time for Barry Grainger to score a further two more goals for the visitors both involving some good unselfish play from Paul Tanton; the first was a clever cut back and Barry firing low form 12 yards out and the latter was a well crafted goal that Barry got the faintest of touches on to wrong-foot the keeper at his near post again Paul Tanton the provider, which ultimately made the scores, 5-10 OBG’s. This was sandwiched between a very brave save by Rosslee at the feet of the centre forward as he was played through on goal.
Greenwich did try to reduce the deficit even further in the final minute of the game but Rosslee was on hand to turn a long range daisy cutter around the post and then save unconventionally with both of his knees during a goalmouth melee. Final score Greenwich Challenge 5, Farnborough OBG 10.
So a positive display today (certainly in the final third) and given the notable absentees it was good to come through this opener unscathed. But this was the craziest game of football many of us had played in, it was proper end of the world apocalyptic stuff, and to top it all off even Robin Lipscomb bagged a hat-trick for the Senior Vets but as the late great Jimmy Greaves once said ‘it’s a funny old game’ and how right he was!
Next week sterner opposition in Metrogas away, with Farnborough looking to extract revenge for their 2-1 defeat played out last May at The Valley.
Man of the match: Jim St John (5 votes)
A special mention must to go to Chris Rawley (3 votes) and Gary Napier and Barry Grainger (2 votes each) for their performances.
Man of the match: Jim St John