Sunday 1st April 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough win Easter goal hunt in Norman Park
What a difference a week makes. It is not just that we won today, but the manner in which we went about our business was so much better. It was good to play to get last Sunday out of our system. We played with more confidence and better team work, passed the ball more and the defence, midfield and forward line had more connective tissue. We were generally calmer, and smarter with and without the ball, than last Sunday. Credit is due in equal measure to our opponents who also aimed for a passing game.
At the start of the week our original opponents pulled out and it was not until Wednesday that Baltic Vets (restored to our schedule this season but whom we could not play on 14 January because of a waterlogged pitch) took up our invitation. Easter is a tricky time to get players, and we also had a lot of rain this week and we could not be certain that the Norman Park pitch would be playable despite Meryl Clarke’s efforts. Our numbers dwindled to twelve, after Rob Faulkner injured his back bundling a creature with blonde hair in his car yesterday. We were grateful that Dave Salako agreed to play in goal at very short notice. Otherwise I might well have made a fool of myself again in goal.
Meryl Clarke allocated us a pitch that had not been played on yesterday. Having eight pitches to rotate helps during the monsoon season. Waine Hetherington, Colin Mant and Patrice Mongelard set up the goal nets while Baltic Vets waited for their kit to arrive. Before kick off the Baltic Manager tipped me off that they would at some point put a youngster in goal. What he omitted to tell me was that the lad was a Crystal Palace and Chelsea Youth keeper. I am glad he played because he was very good and made the game interesting.
Ian Coles, Ian Lyons, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Michael Hills, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington.
Substitute: Franco Petrozzi.
Supporters: Tony Harvey, Mick O’Flynn, Michael Ugwumba (Jr), Obi Ugwumba’s nephew Orji.
Linesman: Michael Ugwumba (Jr).
Referee: Nick Kinnear.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Both teams made a measured start, moving the ball about. Our front pairing of Harvey and Hetherington combined well together, whilst Michael Hills and Simon Thomas provided thrust down the sides. Michael Ugwumba was beginning to enjoy the midfield tussle until he had to come off injured after only ten minutes. Franco Petrozzi replaced him with gusto and guile. The early chances fell to Farnborough. Michael Hills punished a poor clearance from the Baltic keeper, who stranded himself in the process, to loft the ball into an empty net from thirty yards out. Peter Harvey spurned a couple of good chances to increase our lead – these were not in the class of Kypros Michael or Colin Mant moments, but Peter will have been disappointed with his efforts. Still he took the opportunity on the half-hour, to put things right with a smartly taken penalty earned by Jay Hardy had been interfered with from behind in the box. Just when some of us had fatefully begun to think of a clean sheet Baltic capitalised on Farnborough hesitancy on the edge of our box to pull a goal back after Dave Salako had parried the initial effort.
We were surprised by the vigour of Baltic’s start to the second half. They put a nippy winger on and moved a big unit to the front (having replaced him with the young maestro in goal) and suddenly they posed more of a threat and started winning corners. Patrice Mongelard cleared off the line from one such corner and we had to work hard to re-establish the flow of the game towards the Baltic goal. When we did get at the Baltic goal their young keeper was equal to it, saving a header from Franco Petrozzi who connected with a corner at the far post, coming off his line to mop up through balls and generally frustrating our efforts, most coming from Peter Harvey and Waine Hetherington. However, the best save of the game belonged to our keeper. Baltic had arrowed a free kick into the top corner of our net. I was not the only one who thought that was the Baltic equaliser until Dave Salako somehow contorted his body and flung a left hand at the ball.
We needed the cushion of a third goal, fast. Peter Harvey, more mobile and hungry this week thought he had scored with a lofted raking shot destined for the top corner until the slender young man in the big yellow shirt tipped the ball onto the bar. It was going to take something special to beat him, and that is exactly what Simon Thomas provided. Baltic did not quite clear the ball from yet another of our corners. The ball rose high on the edge of the Baltic box and as it fell Simon was sharpest to react. He was in fact facing away from the goal, eyes on the ball as it descended to knee height for the sweetest of connections with his left foot, and a trajectory that defied interception into the bottom corner. It was crisp, deadly and just what we needed.
The second half seemed to go on for ever. Perhaps Nick Kinnear was having difficulty reading Mick O’Flynn’s timepiece. There was time for us to craft a goal that was ruled offside. Michael Hills caused more havoc on the left, aided and abetted by a marauding Ian Lyons who slid in to guide the ball just inside the post. However, Lionel was denied by the lino.
I think both teams enjoyed the game in relatively pleasant conditions for the time of year. It was dry, there was no wind, the pitch needed rolling but played better than could have been expected after all the rain we had. The match was contested in excellent spirit and any arguments or raised voices that could be heard were amongst players from the same team, on both sides.
There is not much to report by way of an après-match as we did not have the use of a bar sur place and most people were keen to get home for Sunday roast. It was Easter after all and family comes first (albeit after football). I had been warned that lunch would start without me if I was home any later than 13:30, and Mrs M was not fooling.
Finally, I leave you with a selection of quotes from today: Meryl Clarke “The showers are hot”; Peter Harvey “Pat – you had a brilliant game”; George Kleanthous “My vote goes to Pete Harvey”; Kypros Michael “I’ve been asked to manage my little boy’s team”; Mick O’Flynn “It’s a Cartier watch”. See if you can work out which one is not a poisson d’Avril.
Man of the match – a revelation in midfield, Franco Petrozzi with whom you would be a fool to tangle.
Man of the match: Franco Petrozzi