Sunday 26th November 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough lose in the sun
My own players are such avid readers of my match reports that I am going to have to introduce a ‘Corrections & Clarifications’ section at the start of each report. It would appear that I failed, dismally, to do justice to the full technical splendour of Peter Harvey’s goal last Sunday. I had utterly failed to appreciate the quality of Peter’s first touch to control the ball and take it in his stride, his sublime second touch to beat the last defender passed me by totally, and the quality of the low fizzing shot to beat the keeper low into the corner was clearly beyond my woeful powers of description. Back to today’s events in sunny Kidbrooke Village at the John Roan Playing Fields where we took on Old Tamponians Super Vets, on a dry, crisp morning with a bright low winter sun which allowed them to put us in the shade, more on that later.
We were still indisposed by injuries but had declined to call on our Younger Vets – without a fixture today, partly out of respect for our opponents, and partly because our younger Vets have superior buffet requirements. So we called on two new debutants in Tadesse “Tadu” Desta and Richard Patience. Steve Blanchard got changed for the third week running without playing because of injury whilst Obinna Ugwumba informed the dictatorial management yesterday that he was taking a break in sunny Malta, from Malta. Obi is fifty years of age on the 29th and that might have something to do with it - (birthday happy wish you we, Obi). Sinisa Gracanin “ran” the line while we wait for his ankle to get better. He had one other job to do today and that was to take the half-time oranges out, but the Issey Miyake in him would not let him carry a Zara paper bag, so I had to do it.
Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Martin Zapico;
Phil Anthony, Tadesse ‘Tadu’ Desta, Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn, Richard Patience;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Substitute: Patrice Mongelard
Supporters: Leanne Bennett, Steve Blanchard, Sinisa Gracanin, Michael Hills
Decorator of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
Once the game got under way it was clear we were in for a memorable one. Both sides were passing the ball well on a good surface with our opponents carrying a bit more threat while we adjusted to a new formation and new faces. Old Tamponians were the first to draw blood. Five minutes had barely elapsed when a quality cross from the right in the corridor of uncertainty eluded any and every Farnborough shirt and was tucked away with a close range header. Our riposte did not take long – ten minutes later Waine Hetherington’s PhD of a left foot released Peter Harvey who advanced before squaring the ball for George Kleanthous. For a moment it looked like the ball had travelled too far but George retrieved it, beat the covering defender and sent the keeper the wrong way before lashing it high into the net. I should say that George was back to his effervescent self today, with fizz, bite and a sharp finish, just like his favourite continental cocktail, the Tongeren Sunrise.
Sadly, Tadu did not last beyond twenty-five minutes and Patrice Mongelard replaced him. We never got to see the quality that Tadu has – as we know from having faced him in matches against Inter the Valley. We hope there will be other opportunities and we wish him a swift recovery.
We were not able to hold back the Old Tamponians flow as they edged ahead with a smartly executed goal from the second of their powerful forwards. He was allowed to run with the ball for some distance, fending off defenders before producing a low angled finish into the bottom corner. The 2-1 score in our opponents’ favour at half time felt right. Although we were matching them all over the pitch we had not really established a presence in the final third.
The second period was to be a different matter. We started it with verve and intent. Five minutes in - Richard Patience’s rangy stride and left foot found space on the edge of the Tamps box and a low shot eluded the diving keeper to draw us level. Our optimism did not last long as soon after we fell behind again. Colin Mant was blinded by the sun and lost the flight of the ball as a high cross dropped nicely for a Tamps forward to poke home nonchalantly from two yards out. The Tamps player could have been wearing shades for all I know.
Still we battled on. There was more desire and urgency in our second half performance. George Kleanthous drew us level again – our third equaliser of the game and his second, with a shot of great complexity – certainly from a descriptive point of view. First he appeared to have gone too wide and there was hardly any angle for him as he looked like he was in line with the goal line, the ball was alive, off the ground, and yet he had the vision and the audacity to shoot. Martin Zapico was closing in fast at the far post but the ball got there first in my view and went in off the post as Martin followed it in. I heard it before I saw it. There was a fleeting moment of doubt in the bar afterwards about the paternity of the goal but it was clear that George was the daddy.
In an ideal world we would have pushed on and the absorbent Old Tamps defence would have crumbled but their resilience and my own ineptitude conspired against us. Yes, I put my hand up for the fourth Old Tamps goal, the winning strike as it turned out. Another cross from the right of our defence came out of the sun. I moved in to make the interception, lost the flight and sight of the ball only for that Old Tamps stalwart Roy to ghost in behind me and make the sweetest of connections to put the ball inside our post. We huffed and puffed mightily for the last ten minutes, with Peter Harvey and Waine Hetherington bossing the midfield, rained crosses and shots on the Old Tamps goal but could not find the final equaliser we craved. Perhaps we should have pushed more players up top as they say (with hindsight). We had lost but felt we had given a good account of ourselves despite the bout of heliophobia in our defence.
Cocktail sausages, crisp roast potatoes and a selection of sandwiches helped ease the disappointment of defeat in the cosy clubhouse where several Vets teams had gathered. I paused on my way out to congratulate a group of Old Tamps players and asked Roy for a few words to describe his goal. His team mates spoke for him to say he had not meant it. I think he had, but perhaps had not expected it would come off. But you know the saying – you have got to be there to miss, and occasionally score, them. Roy now has a memory that will sustain him through the winter, and I am sure he will not tire of telling his team about it.
Finally a word of thanks to the old boy who refereed the game today, with a minimum of fuss, economy of movement, and a maximum of authority and fairness. There was not an iota of trouble or malice from both teams. We play each other again in half of twenty-eight days.
Man of the match: Richard Patience following in Martin Zapico’s footsteps, with an educated left foot that is almost as good as Waine Hetherington’s, or Peter Harvey’s.
Man of the match: Richard Patience