Sunday 30th March 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
New striking partnership blossoms in Catford sunshine
Mother’s Day thumb, clocks changing, an earlier kick-off of 10:15, injuries etc. meant that we were mildly uncertain about our turnout today. In the end twelve were there and we even had two fans in the form of Millie Cobham and Karen, Steve Palmer’s partner. As the oldest Young Farnborough Vet, Andy Cobham had answered our SOS, and had brought along daughter Millie, who showed better touches on the ball in the warm-up than some of our players. Steve Palmer had come back from holiday only yesterday although partner Karen looked a lot more tanned than he did. Co-manager Roger French was caught up in the exigencies of Mother’s Day, and this gave the team a chance to play a more expansive brand of football under co-manager Mongelard (see his advice at end of report).
And what a glorious morning it was for football. Low twenties on the thermometer, gentle zephyrs on the barometer, and a feeding frenzy for Catford midges. The Catford Wanderers pitch was as good as we have played on all season.
So the starting XI consisted of Steve Palmer in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Colin Brazier, Andy Cobham and Steve Blanchard in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Colin Mant and Rob Lipscomb in midfield; George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks in attack. Nick Waller, joint 5th on the list of Farnborough Old Boys Guild glory boys with a pedigree going back to the late 70s, was our twelfth man.
It took us a while to get going. Catford competed well in the first twenty minutes or so and had decided to play their best player up front, which kept our defence busy initially. They also had a robust presence at the centre of their defence but that muscular unit pulled a hamstring midway through the first half and, sadly, took no further part in the game. By then we were 2-0 up. George Kleanthous had played Andy Faulks in on the edge of the box on the quarter hour and Andy, looking sharp after Geordie cuisine, rounded his marker and shot with his left foot, crisply and unerringly low against the post and into the net. Five minutes later Andy had converted an assist from Rob Lipscomb to give us a 2-0 advantage. These goals were not against the run of play but came at a time when Catford were themselves looking to make an impression on our goal. Steve Palmer dealt ably with the little that came his way. Our third goal, five minutes or so before the end of the 40-minute half, came after George Kleanthous, like a fox in the box, was first on the scene to pick up the loose ball after the Catford keeper had spilled an Andy Faulks shot.
At half time Nick Waller came on for Colin Mant and slotted into the central midfield berth. Catford had more substitutes and made more changes and this seemed to unsettle them. It was clear that their players were not as accustomed to playing with each other as the well-oiled machine that Farnborough had become. We were more dominant in the second half, created more scoring opportunities and it is a mystery how we added only two more to our score. Another mystery was how the referee deemed a Patrice Mongelard throw-in to be a foul throw. Nick Waller blazed the ball over the bar from five yards out from a byeline cutback that was a tad too far back for him. George got his second, and our fourth after determined work by Robin Lipscomb who challenged for the ball in the Catford box, and George was left with a crisp half volley into the roof of the net from three yards out.
George came off soon after as Colin Mant came back on. However, George was not to be denied, and was off the pitch for barely a few minutes. Steve Blanchard felt a twinge in his knee and came off with a quarter of an hour left. Nick Waller dropped back to centre half and produced a calm, dominant display. George returned, like a bad penny to the Catford defence, and added our fifth, to complete his hat-trick after doing what he does best - harrying defenders in the corridor of uncertainty, picking up loose balls, snaffling 50-50s, intercepting loose passes - to advance on goal and slot the ball home.
We had more chances – Waine Hetherington had a shot from two yards out which caused the Catford keeper’s cap to leave him, when (as Waine himself admitted in a post match interview) a less selfish move might have brought dividends. Andy Faulks had a header two yards out from an exquisite Sinisa Gracanin cross, that should have brought us a second hat-trick. We had numerous corners, and tried out several corner takers, with Robin Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracacin and Patrice Mongelard all having a go. Even if I say so myself, I think next time Robin and Sinisa will have to leave it to the specialist.
At the other end Steve was not overworked. He had to make one good save to spare our blushes after the ball went through Patrice Mongelard’s legs. All in all we put on a dominant display against opponents who had quality in places, and moments, but not in sufficient quantity to trouble us. The miraculous return of George Kleanthous has given our forward play an intensity, intelligence and hunger that we have been lacking and the team was set up astutely by co-manager Patrice Mongelard to exploit this. Andy Faulks, and our faux forward Colin Mant, who was keeping mum after the match, having been misquoted by the media last week, must secretly welcome the competitive edge that George has infused into our forward play, and long may it continue.
As always against Catford Wanderers the game was played in excellent spirit and their hospitality was also up to the mark afterwards though for once I could not partake – given that I had a delightful Mother’s Day Sunday roast, and a couple of bottles of 2010 Montagne St Emilion, to go back to. It would not do to offend Mrs M by not doing it justice, on a day like today.
A tip from the wise: if you want to play football on Mother’s Day, and get a Sunday roast, make sure that every day is Mother’s Day in your household, and don’t make a fuss about Father’s Day!
Man of the match: George Kleanthous, for a seriously smooth hat-trick, and for revitalising our forward play.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous