Sunday 5th November 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough revival hits the Belvedere buffers
You could say the finger of fate was pointing that way. Injuries – two broken fingers sustained in the same match last Sunday, including a lifestyle threatening injury for Kypros Michael, deprived us of Kypros and Michael Hills and then we lost Sinisa Gracanin and Simon Thomas both to ankle injuries. Simon even sent round pictures of his swelling on the team WhatsApp. Cabinet Ministers could lose jobs over inappropriate images. We have a zero tolerance of this sort of thing too. Simon is still with this club because he sent a picture of his ankle, injured in a Tuesday night 5-a-side.
Belvedere are a good enough side to not need favours from their opponents. But we were generous today. After the gloom of yesterday’s rain-laden day it was pleasant to have a dry, sunlit and still morning to play football. Both teams had a big entourage.
For a brief moment there was a danger that we might have to let the Sunday team have our goal posts for their league fixture on the adjoining pitch. Their posts were tethered and the keys could not be found. It is usual practice for the Vets team to make way in certain circumstances, as we might find out next Sunday. But the danger passed. After ten minutes some of us might well have been wishing those keys had not been found.
Steve Blanchard, Colin Mant, Ian Lyons, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Obi Ugwumba, Waine Hetherington, Ian Shoebridge;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Mick O’Flynn, Robbie Petrozzi.
Supporters: Many Anthonys, Tony Harvey, Michael Hills, Sinisa Gracanin, Many Petrozzis, Michael Ugwumba
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Referee: Paul Parsons
We did not have a good start, to put it mildly. After five minutes the first corner, conceded by Waine Hetherington, had yielded a simple goal for one of the big Belvedere units who had ambled up for the occasion. Gary Fentiman bellowed for the ball, came off his line and never got near it, leaving an empty space for the ball to be propelled into our net. Five minutes later it was the turn of Ian Lyons to be generous to our opposition as he could not get a clearing header away, was inconvenienced by a short, stocky Belvedere forward with a low centre of gravity and an eye for goal who swivelled to lash the ball home from three yards out. It could have been two or four yards as some of the metrical pedants in the team might argue, but there was no doubt about the damage.
To our credit we did not capitulate. We were having as much of the game as our opponents who at one point noted that most of the game was being played in their half. Steve Blanchard produced a balletic moment as he slid in to tackle a Belvedere forward, and then got up in one fluid movement to whisk the ball away, like a matador, thought Ian Lyons. I was thinking more petrol tanker turning like a jet ski but you get the picture. Obi Ugwumba had a long range shot that looked good on the eye which was well saved by the giant Belvedere keeper, a surprisingly agile and dextrous individual with long arms (that would reach outside the box later in the game twice). Soon after, Obi used the force to win a fortuitous penalty. Belvedere were not exactly ecstatic at the decision, but they were certainly delighted with the outcome as Peter Harvey put his kick against the inside of the post and back out and across the goal. We could set a record for penalties missed this season.
Robbie Petrozzi, Mick O’Flynn and Phil Anthony came on for Jay Hardy, Ian Shoebridge and Ian Lyons on the half-hour. That seemed to check our momentum, initially. Belvedere capitalised on the changing dynamic. We went on to concede two more goals before half-time, both similar in design and execution as the Farnborough offside trap was sprung and nippy Belvedere runners did the rest. 4-0 at half-time seemed harsh. It allowed Belvedere to bring on a large number of substitutes.
To say we drew the second half might seem like clutching at straws but we felt we matched Belvedere. Their keeper was certainly busier and was called upon to make some good saves, one from a marauding Peter Harvey was memorable. Obi Ugwumba, George Kleanthous and Patrice Mongelard made way on the hour for the return of Ian Shoebridge, Ian Lyons and hard-running and tackling Jay Hardy,. This time the changes did not unsettle us as much. We could see clearly that we were creating chances even if we were not converting them. Mick O’Flynn will have nightmares about the sliced shot from three yards out, unmarked and with time to control the ball, wave at the crowd and pick his spot. He will probably not get closer to scoring all season. Sustained pressure from Farnborough drew the Belvedere keeper off his line and twice, how shall I put it, his momentum carried him beyond the boundary of his box but with his instinct to handle the ball undimmed. Those of us on the sidelines could not understand why Waine Hetherington took the free kick resulting from one such incident. The direction of the ball will remain a mystery, there did not seem to be much power behind it – yet the ball hit the smallest Belvedere player on the pitch who guided it beyond his own keeper.
Obi and George were back on before the close of play to replace Mick O’Flynn and Robbie Petrozzi, both unable to see the game out with thigh strains. Just when we thought we were going to win the second half Belvedere contrived to “equalise” with a smart shot in the postage stamp that beat Gary Fentiman’s giant reach.
So that was it today for on the pitch business, all conducted in a sporting spirit. We were well beaten but yet had competed well for long periods of the game. I hope I have captured everything. It is hard enough to remember things when one was there. Today I was rebuked mildly for not remembering things when I was not there. It seems I had not given the write-up he deserved to Jay Hardy on 15 October, when he scored two goals and was Man of the Match in our 3-2 win against Inter the Valley. That day I missed some of the game with a serious shoulder injury and it appears I missed a golden fifteen minutes from Jay full of nutmegs, Cruyff turns, lung-busting box to box running and bone-crunching tackles, deft touches, and so on. To Jay and any others I have wronged in this way, and will wrong in the future, I can only apologise.
Four platters of Sainsbury’s assorted sandwiches (fish/meat/vegetarian/classic) (96 quarters) and eight portions of spicy chicken wings (64 items) disappeared quickly, leaving those who had tarried in the changing rooms with something else to be grumpy about. Crisps and nuts from the bar supplemented the diet of athletes. We saw the opposition off in the bar (Jay, Colin, Ian, Steve and Patrice playing a blinder). There was much analysis to be done after the game, though Mrs M could not quite fathom why I had needed an absence of six hours to encapsulate a 90-minute game. It did not seem the right time to play the “responsibilities of management card” as the lager-assisted hole was deep enough.
Man of the match: with half the votes cast, Colin Mant, and I sincerely hope he does not complain about his write-up.
Man of the match: Colin Mant