Sunday 1st May 2016
By Colin Mant
Seniors make amends for Riverside horror-show
After our game two Sundays ago against Riverside Wanderers Vets there was a sense of underachievement on our part, and they were as good that day as we were bad. They have had the better share of results against us in recent times and they would have been the more confident side coming into this game. A full house of games at our natural home meant that we were on the road again, this time not at Wellcome’s ground, but at Glebe FC’s ground in Foxbury Avenue on the Sidcup/Chislehurst border. The pitch was big, which does not always suit our game, the surface was good but firm, and the day was one that a meteorologist would describe as “glorious”.
A glebe is an area of land within an ecclesiastical parish used to support a parish priest. Fairly apt as we felt we’d need some spiritual intervention to exorcise the demons that our visitors have imposed upon us. Harking back to previous results, we hadn’t beaten Riverside since the 2012-13 season and only managed two draws of 0-0 and 2-2 since that victory. Defeats of 0-2, 0-6, 1-4 and 0-3 meant that there were always going to be goals, with the bookies' odds on those very much stacked in Wanderers' favour. Mick Gearing had a little trouble locating the referees' changing rooms, despite the clue on the door, but thankfully had less trouble locating his whistle and off we went.
Colin Mant, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier in defence;
Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Des Lindsay and Rob Lipscomb across the middle, with Simon Thomas and Stephane Anelli leading the line.
Substitutes: Roger French, George Kleanthous and Waine Hetherington.
Supporters: The splendidly attired Obi Ugwumba, after sorting out his sat-nav, Thomas and Isabelle French, the less splendidly attired Ian (Lionel) Lyons made a welcome appearance to dispense sagey advice (which means he was generally sarcastic in my direction) and we were joined later by team Svengali Mick O’Flynn to undertake clipboard duties and co-manage.
It was clear that both teams were looking to impose themselves upon the other early doors, but we had a lot more determination about us than our showing down in Eynsford. When we didn’t have the ball, we harried for it, and when we had it we played neat passing moves and seemed to have more time on the ball than in previous encounters. Alarm bells rang when Riverside broke into the box, with the goal at their forward's mercy, but Gary was resolute and spread himself to keep out a certain goal. Had that gone in the day may have panned out very differently, but it didn’t and we played with confidence, constructing some nice moves with only the final ball or shot lacking.
We had our usual 30-minute makeover with Steve, Sini and Simon stepping down for Rog, Waine and George. A little shuffle in positions saw Colin M slide into CB with Rog in unfamiliar territory at RB and George dropping into midfield. Both sides’ attacks were being marshalled well by the defences and chances were few, but it was the work ethic that we demonstrated in the first half that was most pleasing, with all chipping in with a shift. At one point Simon Thomas tracked his runner to the edge of our box to help out, and when your striker does that it gives everyone an example of the work needed to win games. The half ended in parity, despite us having a decent shout for a penalty, but there was much to admire in our 45 minutes work and we probably shaded the possession stats.
We reformed for the second period with Des and Stephane exchanging positions, Des moving up front and Steph into the middle. We started the new half as brightly as we’d ended the last one and it was not long before we edged ahead. Our attackers pressed the Riverside defence into a rare error, and George Kleanthous poked the ball goalwards, with the final touch coming off a Wanderers defender. The dubious goals panel are still debating whether to credit George with the goal, although it looks as if Rog’s final say has seen our number 13 notch exactly that tally for the season. The relief of a goal settled us more and we began to play expansively, if less tightly. Our passing was confident and the movement previously lacking two weeks earlier was evidently better and everyone was working hard for each other. Not so much a game of two halves, or even two games, but a completely different Farnborough compared to the Eynsford nightmare.
Mick called in Colin M, Des and Ian on 60 minutes, replacing them with Steve B, Sini and Simon. At this point Steph claimed a third position of the day by shifting to RM, with Sini embedded into his natural environ in the middle. Despite our good play and possession, Riverside were far from willing to let their good record against us go easily, and made Gary work to preserve our advantage. Rog then made the defensive tackle of the season to block a Riverside shot in our box (although Pat would have uncharitably said that the tackle probably started in our last meeting! I wouldn’t though…oops, I just did!).
We needed a second, and when it came, it was a peach. Mick awarded a free-kick just outside Riverside’s box, and our one-kneed warrior Rob Lipscomb stood in wait. It all seemed to happen in slow-motion, probably because it was, but Rob’s strike was true and curled…and curled…and curled…and curled tantalisingly over the stretching Riverside keeper to find the roof of the net – 2-0, what a beauty. This earned Rob some man-love from me.
The blow was devastating for Riverside, and things were soon to be worse for them with our move of the game – nay, season. Steph fed Simon the ball on the right and he powered towards the full back, jinking, twisting and turning like a coiffured Giggsy. He sent a floating ball over with his right-foot with exquisite perfection, finding Waine six yards out to nod himself in front for the Golden Boot race and, more importantly, to give us a three-goal cushion. Riverside were now visibly deflated, but still showed courage going forward, and Gary had to fling himself full length at a goal-bound effort to tip it around the post.
But today we were in no mood to concede, the defence a rock, the midfield working their nuts off and the football boot was on the other foot as we did to Riverside what they have done to us in recent times with a fourth goal capping our performance. This time Waine turned provider, crossing for Simon to get the reward his performance merited as he shot past the Riverside keeper. Si deserved his moment and he celebrated with great passion. In the last 15 minutes their keeper had to be alert to keep out Simon and a Lipscomb floater just brushed Steve’s shaggy-doo in his attempt to nod in at the far post.
The final whistle blew and, apart from my clumsy effort to win the ball on their number nine, there was not a bad moment in the match – a great advert for Vets football with both sides contributing to a well contested game. Our visitors may be disappointed with their performance today, but were not four goals worse than us. We just had the desire today to work hard for each other, to move the ball effectively and simply and took our chances when they came. The handshakes at the end were genuine and the Riverside management conceded graciously that we had earned our victory. For such a team performance, it was a 007 day all round and I gleefully sprayed everybody with the Bond-themed eau-de-toilette. There were a pair of striped pants left in our room, but I declined the opportunity to road test these.
If tea is the English panacea for all disasters, then beer is the football equivalent. Riverside showed more sense than we did by not overdoing it in the bar so far from home, probably choosing wisely to return to the Five Bells to seek solace with the lovely lass from Hartlepool and drink some Lily the Pink. I’m sure they look on days like these as philosophically as we do, treating the two impostors of victory and defeat just the same, and we look forward to playing this most sporting team next season, but for today the spoils were ours. If they’ll pardon the analogy, which is not meant to gloat in any way, but….Lily the Pink, Jeff Stelling, Hang’us the Monkey, the Five Bells, your boys took one hell of a beating….
The après-match refreshments were an assortment of sandwiches, which were despatched at great speed. Our mood was good, and a large number stayed to celebrate our win, with Gary on an afternoon pass to join in the jollity and see first-hand the carnage that generally follows a game. Si was joined by Amanda, Louie and Daisy to swell our number.
It seems Glebe have quite a social scene going on – and as more beer was consumed the more raucous it became. There was a DJ spinning tunes, and before we left a lady singer – with a good pair of lungs Lionel noted – treated us to her vocal range. While all this went on, the club’s regulars drinking in one corner of the bar greeted each of their arriving WAG’s with bawdy cheers, as said WAG sashayed in to the music as glammed up as they could get on a Sunday afternoon. There was certainly some embarrassing dad dancing going on – not by us as we were a model of decorum. While we’d already consumed our official tray of sandwiches, there was no let-up to the conveyor belt of food emerging from the kitchen, it was literally endless, and the buffet processing plant of Mongelard and Waller missed out on the equivalent of a Tudor feast. Our boys tucked in heartily.
We, of course, are far too classy for such frivolity; Si turned the tunes down to a less ear-splitting level, and I called Uber to summon my sparkly unicorn with gossamer wings to drop me home for a nap. Colin B with a stylish display of defending, simple passing and support for the attack and Stephane Anelli with an all-action performance in three positions took the man of the match honours today, although all the team deserve an honourable mention. Tuesday brings the Eagle Fitter Fans to Farrow Fields and if we can repeat our performance today then there is much to be positive about.
Man of the match: Colin Brazier and Stephane Anelli.
Man of the match: Colin Brazier & Stephane Anelli