Sunday 28th January 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Kypros Michael crashes Lads of the Village party
After two waterlogged weekends we were very keen to get a game. All sixteen players turned up and we had what the Farnborough Gazette would call a strong bench. We knew from experience that the Stone Recreation Ground near Dartford could cope with rain. In the end we had a dry, mild morning on a surface that was true and conducive to a passing game.
Kypros Michael and Michael Hills were playing their first game since sustaining a broken finger each in the same game on 29 October. It was good to have them back. In fact, Kypros was lucky to not have broken anything else more recently after his car was written off in an accident yesterday which was no fault of his, involving an unmarked police car, chasing someone else according to Kyp. Thankfully all the family came out unharmed, but all were shaken. Sinisa Gracanin was also back after weeks of absence with an ankle injury. We had a debutant in Junior Kadi who turned out to be a very good advertisement for the Football Academy he runs. My team mates did a very good job of hiding their concerns (and their willingness to go in goal) when I put on the keeper’s shirt but the relatively late arrival of Rob Faulkner would have been a great relief to them (though not as great as to me). They certainly cheered Rob when I announced the line-up, and did a shorter than usual team talk in the absence of ill Co-Manager Mick O’Flynn to whom we send our best wishes for a swift recovery (I think).
Steve Blanchard, Martin Zapico, Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Junior Kadi, Ian Shoebridge, Obi Ugwumba;
Michael Hills, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Colin Brazier, Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael.
Supporter: David Orji (Obi Ugwumba’s nephew).
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
We elected to play with the slope in the first half and it is fair to say we enjoyed more possession than our opponents and the flow of the game was more towards their goal but I do not think we created anything in the first quarter of an hour. The Lads' centre half with the long legs was putting them to great use in keeping us at bay. Indeed, the first decent chance of the game fell to the Lads but thankfully Rob was alert and saved with his feet from eight yards. We were fortunate that the connection was not the best. I honestly cannot recall another scare for us in that half. George Kleanthous and Michael Hills were getting behind the Lads defence but our numbers in the Lads' box or the final ball were not ideal. Jay Hardy was a tiger in midfield and Junior Kadi was showing some silky touches and a good football brain. Martin Zapico was a good outlet for goal kicks as we built from the back.
On the half-hour we made five changes with the five substitutes coming on simultaneously for Junior, Obi, Martin, Michael and Colesy. The bench was still strong but now we had a cutting edge in the devilry of Kyp’s left foot. It was not long before Kyp crossed the ball for George to stoop at the far post to give us the lead with a smart header. Kyp just knew that George was waiting for that one. We remained dominant but could not get the cushion of a second goal.
I also wondered if we should worry about the sniper on the QEII bridge in the distance who shot Colin Brazier as he attempted a pass with his right foot. I jest of course, and one should not make fun of one’s team mate. Colin had in fact produced a turn of speed to snuff out potential danger with a covering run.
We knew at-half time that we needed more goals and felt that there would be more of the game in our half in the second period. About ten minutes in, the Greek connection delivered – this time with George providing the assist for Kypros to produce a low finish from close range. I thought to myself this was as smooth as a bead of extra virgin olive oil on the surface of a Kalamata olive. It was 2-0 to us on the hour when the five players who went off on the half-hour came back on with Steve Blanchard, Jay Hardy, George Kleanthous, Patrice Mongelard and Ian Shoebridge making way. From the touchline we witnessed a goal for Lads of the Village from a well-taken corner and a close-range header from an unmarked Lads player in the six-yard box. There was perhaps too much of Colin Brazier in the defining moment but we agreed that he had made a genuine attempt to clear the ball and the fact that it came off his head on the line on its way to the roof of the net was accidental and incidental, and that nobody would mention the words own goal (except me of course).
I will not hide from you that we badly needed a third goal. Michael Hills obliged with a low cross for Kypros Michael who finished emphatically into the top corner. Soon after Kypros rounded the keeper but could not squeeze the ball home – jug avoidance was mentioned. Avoidance is one of the recognised symptoms of PTSD but Kyp was to get his hat-trick after an exquisite through ball from Waine Hetherington.
We could have extended our lead even further had Michael Hills found one of three unmarked team mates waiting for him to cut the ball back after he got through on the right and advanced into the box. I had to remind Michael at that point that he had broken a finger, not a leg. He had one simple job to do – thread the ball away from the keeper. It was not as if there was a defender looking to interfere with him. In the end it did not matter and you could say the third goal had finished the Lads off. One of their players was nearly finished off when he caught the full force of a Sinisa Gracanin pile driver in a place that you could describe as high on the inner thigh.
This was a very good game played in excellent spirit watched by probably the biggest crowd we have had this season, and they knew their football and their compliments for Farnborough at the end were genuine. I should also mention the referee who did an excellent job.
Eight of us made it to the Lads of The Village public house to enjoy the hospitality of our hosts, and lose the usual £1/ticket raffle. Ham and egg mayonnaise sandwiches, chips, sausages and chicken nuggets were swiftly despatched. I will not name the five Farnborough players who were still there when I left at 14:00 but I can tell you they were determined to win in the bar as well.
Man of the match: Kypros Michael with an amazing hat-trick to heal the pain, and who in a careless whisper agreed to take the kit. I asked him to make sure Mrs M washed my No14 shirt by hand. I do not get that at home.
Man of the match: Kypros Michael