Sunday 17th September 2017
By Colin Mant
Senior Vets still search for elusive first win
Grey skies were the backdrop for our visit to the King’s College Sports Ground in Dulwich Village, a ground we knew full well would provide one of the best surfaces we play on all season. As usual the pitch did not disappoint. The temporary traffic lights by the ground served as a small annoyance as did other temporary signals on the South Circular, however all 14 players in our squad arrived in time, including an incredulous Danny Mullins who couldn’t believe he had to pay at London’s last remaining toll. With co-managers Mick O’Flynn and Patrice Mongelard absent the managerial duties fell to Peter Harvey and Colin Mant.
Mark Kendrick, Colin Mant, Ian Coles, Phil Anthony;
Simon Thomas, Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba, Rob Petrozzi;
Des Lindsay and Peter Harvey.
Substitutes: Jay Hardy, Danny Mullins and debutant Michael Hills.
Supporters: The Kendrick family (I think) and Ian Lyons, who informs me he should be available in around three weeks’ time.
Sanco are a much changed team but similar to us they possess a balance of players both young and those who require extra liniment to get the legs going. They also play to their strengths and for the first half an hour they moved the ball quickly to their sharp pair of strikers who could have had the game wrapped up, our high line being breached time and again and after failing to catch the Sanco pair offside. After one such mistimed offside trap they sped through, with a former Farnborough player squaring to his strike partner to tap it home on around 15 minutes. Clearly Phil’s words to the Sanco forward of “You’re too fast for me” were of great encouragement and an invite to run at us at will.
We of course played some nice stuff, but without end result and when we lost it the ball was rotated into dangerous areas to the Sanco pair. Dave Salako was required to save at close range several times and they had far more intent in their forward play. When we did move it around quickly we fashioned a couple of chances, with both Peter Harvey and Des Lindsay shooting across goal. Sini tried the spectacular but was off target. As had been the pattern of play, another ball played into our box saw the ex-Farnborough man take the ball down and although both Colesy and Sini did get something on the ball to deny their strikers, it looped and fell kindly to a Sanco midfielder who struck it sweetly into the net.
As a manager at two down you can only hope the changes you plan make a difference, not that we were playing badly, and on thirty minutes Michael Hills, Danny and Jay replaced Rob, Simon and Mark. We finished the half brightly, but could not reduce the deficit. The half-time talk came unaccompanied by sliced oranges, a detail overlooked by the management duo.
The second half was a total difference to the first and we started well. The plan was to finish strongly for the last half an hour, with Simon, Mark and Rob returning to replace Phil, Obi Ugwumba and Des. The first action for the returnees was to try and capitalise on a free kick in our favour. The ball was delivered into the box to Simon who produced an Andy Carroll-esque scissor volley (not a bad first touch) but the connection too pure to divert it either side of the Sanco keeper and the shot went straight at him.
We were now in the ascendency, winning all the second balls and pressing Sanco deep. The two Sanco forwards saw their service starved and were dropping deep to find scraps. Both remarked that the number of changes made had unsettled the side, sounds a familiar theme! We were dominating and once again the woodwork, as has happened so often this season, came to the rescue of our opponents twice, once from Simon who it has to be said played well when given an opportunity up front. Pete looked to be ‘taken roughly from behind’ in the box with the keeper to beat, but was not adjudged to have been pushed, however, it was not long until he got his first of the season.
With around 20 minutes remaining Peter Harvey gave us a way back that our play had deserved. Picking the ball up around 40 yards out drove at the defence and at 30 yards floated an exquisite left foot chip over the keeper into the top corner. This required the Sanco keeper to be replaced as he unfortunately injured himself in stretching for the ball.
We still had to be watchful of the Sanco forward pair who still produced the occasional moment of danger. But we believed we could get at least a point and continued to press but, as is often the case, in committing forward you leave yourself exposed to the counter and so it proved. Sloppily, from our own throw-in on the edge of their box, the ball was intercepted and played over the top of our defence to their centre-back who was bursting forward at speed (yes, that’s right, their centre-back!!). He made no mistake in slotting past Dave to end our resistance, the game ending shortly after. Sanco are a well-organised side, with good pace in the front two, so there was no shame in this defeat.
Overall our play was good despite the loss and we completely controlled the second half. If we set that second half performance as the standard to play to every week, then results will follow. The tempo of play was good, we pressed and won the ball and competed. Same effort next week against West Farleigh would be welcome. Off we went to indulge in some “bar bants” with sliced sausages, bread slices and chips to provide carbohydrates, not that I saw much of the buffet after showering and returning the equipment to my car as most had been devoured.
Bar quotes this week: Des of course broke his kit washing cherry last week “What more does my missus want? I buy her the conditioner and powder!!” Des of course is keen to go on tour, so best he starts to pay off those annual subs – Waine is watching!! Simon got “done from behind”, where is a mystery. Jay, in indicating he could play for us said, “I’m a floater!” and stated that his girlfriend indulges him in the Farnborough kit! Hmmm…he’ll fit right in! We of course won the battle in the bar (the first of a double for me as I later went to Otford to help my cricket team see off the oppo).
Two players ended with 6 votes apiece and Peter Harvey, for his battling performance and cracking goal, shared the MOM spoils with Sinisa Gracanin who broke up play and distributed the ball with his usual precision.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin and Peter Harvey