Sunday 10th September 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough swallow bitter pill
To lose 1-0 can sometimes feel worse than losing say 5-0 (like Liverpool did yesterday – there I said it). Also hitting the woodwork four times in a game is unlucky, missing one penalty is unfortunate, missing a second one is careless. Add all these things together and you have a performance that is criminal. So, it is not losing that hurts – it is the manner of it.
Yet it all started so well, the sun was out, everyone was on time, all the pre-match tasks were done efficiently. Referee Kinnear was here. Phil Anthony brought news that his appeal for the British Heart Foundation had raised £800 so far, and that we could look forward to a tour to Lille next May Bank Holiday. George Kleanthous had pulled out overnight but Steve Blanchard filled the hole. Not available was Kypros Michael, formerly known as the Paphos Express but today more like the Paphos Mobility Scooter having returned from his Saga holiday in Cyprus internally bruised and struggling to walk after a close encounter with something hard.
Mark Hendrick, Steve Blanchard, Colin Mant, Phil Anthony;
Sinisa Gracanin, Danny Mullins, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington.
Substitutes: Des Lindsay, Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Robbie Petrozzi, Obi Ugwumba.
Supporters: Ian Coles, Jodie Gracanin, Tony Harvey, Obi Ugwumba Jr.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Referee: Nick Kinnear.
We started very well indeed. We could have been 3-0 up after fifteen minutes. We had CUACO penned in. Crosses were raining in mostly from the right. We hit the post twice and had three headers in the six yard box that were missed or saved and just not converted. Were we complacent? Did CUACO sense early on it was going to be their day? Were we guilty of poor finishing? I suspect it is all these things, and more.
We fell behind after fifteen minutes to the only shot that CUACO had on target in the first half. There might have been one other meaningful attempt on our goal in the second half but that was the sum of the attacking threat we had to face today. Of course, the result tells you we had to face a lot of spirited defending, clearances on the line, and a group of players whose belief grew as steadily as ours waned, and who showed collective endeavour defending in numbers and with a keeper who was not only competent but also a tad lucky.
We made five changes on the half hour with Mark Hendrick, Waine Hetherington, Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Mant and Ian Shoebridge making way for the five substitutes mentioned above. It is always difficult to gauge for certain whether so many changes help or hinder. Having a mass debate about it will not help. It is our policy to give everyone an hour if we can, even if, as was pointed out later (with some feeling) this can mean that we do not always end the game with our strongest team, whatever that means. Presumably, at some point today we would have had our strongest team out there but it did not make any difference.
We had a real opportunity to draw level after thirty-five minutes. Des Lindsay, freshly arrived on the pitch, had the legs to slip behind the CUACO defence and round the keeper. His shot was on target and hit the target even after a CUACO defender tried to stop the ball with a deliberate hand. The ball ended up in the net but referee Kinnear had already blown for the penalty (you would not have caught tantric Mick Gearing doing that). The Farnborough Senior Vets Management Team of O’Flynn and Mongelard can be accused of many things and one of them I think is that we did not make it crystal clear to the entire squad that our designated penalty taker (when he is on the field) is Peter Harvey; however, Des must have thought that his name was short for designated (more desperate, if you ask me) but he wrestled the ball from Peter and proceeded to roll it gently into the CUACO keeper’s arms as he stretched to turn the pages of his Sunday Times on his sun lounger after lighting his pipe and ordering a cocktail.
The mood at half-time was not great but Co-Manager O’Flynn encouraged us to carry on doing what we had been doing – and we did. The flow of the game was unchanged. We had balls cleared off the line, deflected just wide, we hit the crossbar, and missed another penalty. This one was taken by Waine Hetherington after Obi Ugwumba had been bundled to the ground in the box. I turned my back on that one. Just as well, as I do not think I could describe another penalty miss without calling the Samaritans. Des ventured the view in the shower that Waine’s penalty had made his look rather good.
I lost count of the number of crosses that were delivered, not all accurately. There were at least three close range volleys that troubled the netting behind the goal. We had shots blocked off the line, the keeper pulled off some eye-catching saves and when he was beaten there was always a body or a leg or a forehead in the way. We made our final changes on the hour, with Phil Anthony, Peter Harvey, Danny Mullins, Steve Blanchard, and Simon Thomas having reached the end of their allotted hour. The five who went off on the half-hour were back on for the last half hour. I am not going to debate whether those changes blunted our attacking threat. As far as I could see we kept missing scoring opportunities.
At the other end there were one or two corners which we had to defend, and there was always some encouragement for CUACO from one of Mick O’Flynn’s passes in or on the edge of our box (that come with their own ambulances). The sands of time ebbed away: balls went into the nettles or down the footpath behind the goal, we were not always quick to retrieve them; the CUACO keeper could move in slow motion with his kicks, or so it felt).
And that is how CUACO had a rare and famous victory at our home ground. I cannot say we were happy about but in the end we had to admire their spirit, collective strength and luck.
There were other surprises in store for us today. Des Lindsay took the kit and he bought a round with a magic £5 note.
This was our fourth match this season – we are still without a win, we managed a draw against CENTYMCA last Saturday but in a sense that game did not count. Mick O’Flynn will propose to the club committee that he be known as Senior Vets Director of Football. He reckons Directors last longer than managers. Well, at least the team will have new co-managers next week in the form of Harvey & Mant for their first away fixture this season, in leafy Dulwich.
The food today consisted of luxury premium handmade sandwiches from Patrice Mongelard, as our usual caterers were not available. Four trays of sandwiches all went – I made sure that nothing was left behind. Six loaves of Kingsmill sliced bread (three white/ three wholemeal) came with a range of succulent fillings: free range egg and Dijon mayonnaise with organic chives (and occasional red chilli); the same with line-caught tuna; Gouda cheese slices and cucumber; Cathedral City cheese slices and Branston pickle; cheese/ham/tomato; corned beef and red onion. One player who will remain nameless told me that the margarine tasted rather good when in fact I used President unsalted butter (and got into trouble with Mrs M for it).
Man of the match: Mark Hendrick, with just under half of the fifteen votes that were recorded today, who had a great game in midfield.
Man of the match: Mark Hendrick