Sunday 24th January 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets just about avoid sticky end
Three weeks on since our last game and the same leaden skies and sticky conditions awaited us. The pitch was very moist, heavy in fact, but at least we got a game against sporting opponents in Glendale Vets, at the Croydon Postal Sports Ground in Trenham Drive, Warlingham. Although we started the week with a possible sixteen players we were in fact down to twelve by kick-off time for various reasons, including a bout of man flu, and at 9:17 this morning news that our top goal scorer, Andy Faulks, was unwell (a bit like Jeffrey Bernard used to be unwell I wondered at the time, perhaps uncharitably). Still, with only twelve players I thought we would avoid the usual gripes about players getting less than a full game, though judging by the performance today some players do not have a full game in them – they know who they are.
Colin Mant, Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Coles, Colin Brazier;
Rob Lipscomb, Des Lindsay, Kypros Michael, Simon Thomas;
Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous.
Substitute: Patrice Mongelard.
Supporter: Hannah Kleanthous.
Glendale are a more than competent outfit with a good blend of muscle and craft, and quite a few technical players. Our games against them are usually close affairs, and today was no exception. They scored first after ten minutes with a smart control, turn and low shot in the box. Our play had been tentative and they had started better. Once we had weathered their initial thrust we could see opportunities, in particular down the left where Kypros Michael had the beating of his full back. It was from the left that our clinical equaliser came, thankfully within five minutes of Glendale taking the lead. George Kleanthous had slipped his marker and got to the byeline before cutting the ball back for Des Lindsay whose first time shot was crisp and well-directed beyond the keeper. Des might well have injured himself in the process as his movement started to look laboured from then on. Soon after we edged ahead as Kypros Michael was clean through after a threaded pass from Waine Hetherington and the finish was accurate.
There were more fireworks from Kypros as he broke through five minutes later and fired against the crossbar – only to see Rob Lipscomb arrive first to the rebound to steer the ball home. In about twenty minutes we had taken the game by the scruff of the neck, and away from Glendale but they were not out of it. Gary Fentiman had to be vigilant and good clearing headers from Colin Brazier and even Simon Thomas in a rare apparition in our box helped us to preserve our lead.
The decision to substitute Des for myself after thirty-five minutes was made easy by a dodgy back heel from Des in an inappropriate area of the field which nearly cost us (as he knows). Des’ ageing groin had stiffened again, and he went to slowly walk the line for the rest of the game. We had a glorious chance to extend our lead shortly before half-time but George Kleanthous was greedy, and shot wide, ignoring calls from better placed team mates.
When the second half started we had trouble picking up where we left off. The changes made by Glendale had given them a fresh impetus and we had to work hard to preserve our two-goal cushion. I do not feel that we looked like scoring in the first quarter hour of the second half. Our chances came later after Glendale had narrowed the deficit. Yes, midway through the second half Glendale got their reward though it did not quite take the form you might expect. Gary Fentiman had done superlatively well to parry a close range shot and the ball had just gone up vertically above him as he fell to the ground. He kept his eye on it and was fully expecting to catch it as it returned to earth even as he lay on his back on the ground. There was no Glendale player with three yards you see, and Gary called for it, but he had not factored in the Mant effect. Colin Mant took charge of the situation, approaching the ball with great confidence, maximum fluency and elasticity in his legs, perfect eye to limb co-ordination, fully intending to clear the danger, put his team mates’ minds at rest and dash Glendale hopes on the rocks of the Farnborough defence. That was the theory – the execution was a different matter as he sliced the ball into our own net off Gary’s outstretched arm. Even Nick Waller will have trouble getting a more memorable own goal this season, and probably for as long as he plays.
At that point we seemed to wake up and started creating chances – only to see them neutered by woeful shooting and crossing. Kypros Michael must have wondered where his shooting boots were as he cut in from the left and from three yards blasted the ball wide. There were other misdirected efforts from Waine Hetherington and George Kleanthous. The question was would we hold on as Glendale were not out of it and kept creating chances and getting corners. Then we had the one controversial moment of the game. The ball had gone out of play we thought in our favour but Glendale took the throw and from the ensuing move got an equaliser. We managed to persuade the referee that the throw should have been ours. The referee (the third Glendale player to play the part) might have been confused by Des Lindsay’s antics on the line, but he must have had a doubt in his mind and we were reprieved. A less sporting side could have made it more difficult – so all credit to Glendale who were miffed but made little of it.
We continued to miss opportunities at the other end and it needed clearing headers from Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in the final five minutes to give us our first win of 2016. I thought a draw would have been a fair result but not everyone on our team agreed. What is clear though is that we are going to have to go into games with more than twelve players and put more of our chances away. Some players will also have to a do a lot more tracking back – they know who they are. Others will have to be more reliable.
I barely had time to enjoy the hospitality of our hosts and nibbled at a couple of egg sandwiches before I had to go and find the driver of the tank that was blocking my swift exit from the ground. I am not sure what was more upsetting, leaving a tray of sandwiches (especially as Buffet Landfill Nick Waller was absent), or thinking that Mrs M might not believe me when I said my return had been delayed by another vehicle. I took the precaution of taking a photo on my phone just in case – not of the sandwiches, but of the cars. I did find, two pitches away, the apologetic but thoughtless culprit among spectators at a kids’ game. I left Rob Lipscomb looking for the same outcome with a piece of paper bearing the registration number of the car that had boxed him in. We were both stuck for a while.
Seven players registered man of the match votes but the Oscar was shared between Colin Mant and Rob Lipscomb.
Man of the match: Colin Mant and Rob Lipscomb