Sunday 3rd December 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Statistics do not lie: Lord of the Rings 4 Farnborough 3
To lose one game 4-3 is unfortunate, to lose two consecutive games by the same score is careless. To lose in the last few minutes after a fantastic comeback might be seen as criminal. But we were up against our Orpington nemesis, Kevin, the ring-tailed tattoed one, who does not score ordinary goals, at least not against us. I should have paid more attention when he said in the clubhouse before the game that he really fancied playing today. And yet we had brought a Deano of our own, and we had two Zs playing for us in Zanelli and Zapico. I am not sure if Zinedine Zidane himself could have won the game for us today.
The weather was not too bad at the start of the game, dry initially, with hardly any wind and the playing surface was a tribute to the drainage at the Beckenham Cricket Club. Despite many injuries we still mustered fourteen players with three new faces in Dean Hawkins, Antonio Plado and Paul Zanelli. We would have had fifteen if Obi Ugwumba had not stretched time. Before the game Phil Anthony, a local, who was the last to arrive, presented the management team of O’Flynn and Mongelard with what he must have thought was an apt present, in the form of a suggestive vegetable, almost as subtle as one of his jokes. I can only describe it as a failed attempt to cross a potato with a coco de mer. Still it looked a fine pair. I got my own back on Phil later by suggesting this was not a very sensitive offering to an Irishman who had lost half his family to the potato famine. I made it up, of course.
Phil Anthony, Ian Lyons, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Dean Hawkins, Antonio Plado, Paul Zanelli, Martin Zapico;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Ian Coles, Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn.
Decorator of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
"What shall we do about Kevin?" was a key part of the pre-match briefing. Within three minutes that was all out of the window as the Farnborough offside trap was sprung, the keeper rounded and the ball stroked into the net by Kevin. It took us a little while to get our passing right and to learn each other’s names but even at an early stage we felt that we were not out of it. Of course, Kevin threatened. He drew a great save from Gary Fentiman who dived at his feet in a one-on-one and was able to palm the ball away as Kevin was about to pull the trigger.
We gave away a sloppy second goal after twenty minutes as we failed to shepherd a ball out deep in our area and the cut-back found the last person we wanted and the finish was emphatic. Tony Plado’s flexibility got us out of trouble with a goal line clearance on the half-hour. Around that time we made three changes with Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles coming on for Dean Hawkins, Phil Anthony and Ian Lyons respectively. These were all positive changes. Consequently, we finished the half strongly. We were unlucky with the clearest scoring opportunity we fashioned with ten minutes left. George Kleanthous slipped Peter Harvey in and Peter’s shot (from fifteen yards out) was angled, powerful, low and had the keeper beaten only to hit the base of the post. Still there was much encouragement to be taken from that even though we trailed by two goals at the turn.
The second half was a cracker, five goals including two fantastic strikes. Ten minutes in Peter Harvey latched on to a lofted ball from Paul Zanelli – controlled it on the run with his head, glided past the defender and lashed the ball home from ten yards out. The runs behind the Orpington defence from Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous and Martin Zapico were promising more joy with intelligent balls from Paul Zanelli, Waine Hetherington and Tony Plado.
Just when we felt we were getting back in the game we conceded a beauty. The ball was crossed into our box from a position adjacent to the corner flag. It looked like the ball had been played behind Kevin but he was able to control it with a deft touch, run away from his marker with his back to our goal before swivelling and lashing the ball into the postage stamp. It was a thing of brutal beauty.
We made further changes on the hour with Dean Hawkins, Phil Anthony and Ian Lyons replacing Tony Plado, Patrice Mongelard and Colin Mant. Colin barely had time to put his top on before responding to Peter Harvey’s call for him to run the line, such was our desire to get back in the game. Our belief grew when Peter Harvey played George Kleanthous in for him to bring us within a goal of Orpington with a smart finish inside the post. At that point Orpington started to ask the referee how long was left – always a sign of fingertips on the ledge. We piled the pressure on – there were bodies all over the place in the Orpington box. I recall in particular there was a corner which nearly yielded that collector’s item – an Ian Coles goal – but the low shot flashed past the post.
With barely five minutes left we got the reward we deserved as George Kleanthous’ constant harrying of the Orpington defence and Peter Harvey’s vision and quick thinking crafted a beauty. We spent some time in the bar afterwards getting the measurements right as Peter can be very sensitive about these things. We all agreed that Peter was only fifty yards out as he guided the ball into an empty net after the Orpington keeper had stranded himself and made a poor attempt at clearing the ball under pressure from George Kleanthous.
We had about three minutes of the game to manage to get a fantastic draw in the drizzle that had now descended upon us. We conceded a free kick on the edge of our box. Ian Lyons and Mick O’Flynn seemed to think they were both responsible (not something to fess up to if you ask me). Kevin stepped up and bent the ball round the wall beyond Gary’s 6ft5 frame. That was it. We scored three goals in the second half and still lost, because one other exceptional player got four goals.
I should record a word of praise for the referee today. He had presence, authority and was scrupulously fair and in return got no trouble from either team.
The showers were good and any fears we might have had about the hot water running out were unfounded. A large tray of sandwiches, sausage rolls and cocktail sausages cheered us up but not as much as the Orpington player who joined us to offer his view that Mick O’Flynn had had a great game. I think he meant for us.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey, with two goals including one that Wayne Rooney copied last week, an assist, and fitbit stats, from his wrist I think, that showed he covered a distance of 7.3 kms, took 11,176 steps and used 1,356 calories in 96 minutes.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey