Sunday 18th February 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Visitors happier than Farnborough with a point
The week started with us not knowing if we would have a pitch for this game, then we did not have a referee, and on the day itself we did not have a goalkeeper and we had no food (more on the latter later). In the end we had an entertaining game in morning sunshine, in dry mild weather, on a pitch that was as good as we had played on in weeks, and we had a qualified referee from our midst in the shape of Waine Hetherington who did an excellent job. This was only our third game in 2018. We remain unbeaten this year but today it was more a case of two points dropped than a point gained.
Although our home pitch in Farnborough Village was miraculously playable today we had decided (prematurely or wisely – answers on a postcard) earlier in the week to switch the game to Norman Park, in the care of Meryl Clarke. Sadly, it meant we could not reciprocate the hospitality we have enjoyed from our visitors from West Farleigh but both teams were glad to get a game today, played in excellent spirit.
The early shift of Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard, Ian Shoebridge and Michael Ugwumba put up the nets before others arrived.
Obi “Clean sheet” Ugwumba;
Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Michael Hills, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Ian Coles, Franco Petrozzi.
Referee: Waine Hetherington.
Linesman: Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Supporters: Tony Harvey, Mick O’Flynn, Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
We dominated the game from the off, with most of the play in the West Farleigh half. Our West Farleigh nemesis, Deano, was not on the pitch from the start and by the time he came on fifteen minutes or so into the game I was not the only one to rue the chances we had already missed. Kypros Michael and Peter Harvey were looking dangerous and it seemed only a matter of time before they would craft a breakthrough. Kypros, not showing any ill effects from that second helping of Valentine’s Day moussaka, had created the first clear opportunity by having his powerful shot parried by the West Farleigh keeper (who might have hurt his hand in the process) into the path of Simon Thomas three yards out with an empty net, only for Simon, playing his first game in months, to find the crossbar. Simon will, I know, have been disappointed with his effort but his sharpness will return, eventually.
At the other end a diving save from Obi Ugwumba low to his left caught the eye before we took the lead after twenty minutes or so. Patrice Mongelard found Peter Harvey on the edge of the West Farleigh box and Peter’s cross-cum-shot deceived the West Farleigh keeper who let the ball trickle through his hands into the net. I think the keeper came off soon after and the West Farleigh centre forward went in goal – I think you could say without fear of contradiction that this was a turning point in the game.
Despite our dominance we never got a second goal. We had several corners that yielded nothing. I do not recall a single West Farleigh corner in the first half. The introduction of Franco Petrozzi and Ian Coles on the half-hour had stiffened our defence and enhanced our dominance but it was up front that things did not quite click. Michael Hills had several long-range efforts that were more aesthetic than effective. We could not find the decisive final pass and when we created danger the replacement West Farleigh keeper was more than equal to it. Jay Hardy was a constant threat from midfield – aided and abetted by Michael Hills and the tireless Ian Shoebridge but West Farleigh were resilient, with some big units at the back and a faux keeper who was proving to be the real deal. The mood at half-time was positive – we had nullified Deano, we were creating scoring opportunities, and even the prospect of Patrice Mongelard in goal for the second period did not appear to disturb anyone.
The second half was not too different from the first. We weathered some initial West Farleigh pressure before re-establishing the pattern of the first half. I lost count of the number of times when we could have scored, had it not been for the dazzling display by the West Farleigh keeper. Time and again he came off his line to parry shots, narrow angles and save with his legs and so on and that was when other West Farleigh bodies were not in the way. West Farleigh were reduced to playing on the break looking for Deano but he was usually well marshalled by the fleet Ian Coles and the muscular presence of Steve Blanchard and Franco Petrozzi. Set pieces were the best chance they had to score we thought and so it proved to be.
I was feeling rather good about myself midway through the half after pulling off a double point blank save; however, fifteen minutes from the end we were undone by a West Farleigh corner. Our shortest player went up against their tallest and then Phil Anthony on the post helped the ball over the line as it came off the underside of the bar on his head. Things got frantic as we pressed for a winner. We even re-introduced Kypros Michael for the last ten minutes (after he had made way on the hour) but it was not to be our day. Jay Hardy, Ian Shoebridge, Kypros and Peter Harvey all had decent chances which came and went. The longer it went on the more belief West Farleigh accrued and they held out for a draw which was not quite daylight robbery, more a gentle mugging in the environs of Bromley.
Six of us made our way back to our club in Farnborough Village. Mick O’Flynn had one job to do and that was to order three pizzas. Had they turned up we would have shared vegetarian, Hawaiian and pepperoni pizza. I wish I could have described them in a bit more sensory detail. I have Mick’s credit card code (which he wrote down) for future use but would have preferred the pizza. When I got home the other side of half past four, and explained the nutritional ordeal I had just experienced, Mrs M remarked that the Famished Farnborough Six could have gone to Pizza Hut for a meal in the inordinate amount of time we had taken for “analysis”.
Man of the match – our dynamic midfield duo of Jay Hardy and Ian Shoebridge could not be separated, receiving the accolades of their team mates in equal measure.
Man of the match: Jay Hardy and Ian Shoebridge