Sunday 15th April 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough escape burial in Norman Park long grass
Grass grows fast at this time of year but the Norman Park surface was lusher than expected because the tractors had not been able to get on to cut the grass during the week. Still Meryl Clarke has promised a trim wicket for next week. The Farnborough Senior Vets team had been shorn, however, and absentees included magic Mike O’Flynn who was seeking relief, from the pressures of management, studying frescoes of nude Greco-Roman wrestling in Crete (and he had sent us a picture from the beach). Michael Hills could not help notice the uncanny resemblance of the sandy expanse with Broadstairs.
In Mick’s absence it fell to Peter Harvey (promoted to officer class for the day) to provide the strategic input for team disposition, substitutions etc. for the thirteen players that we mustered on an overcast, still and dry morning. Three of the thirteen, Waine Hetherington, Patrice Mongelard and Ian Shoebridge put the nets up before some of their team mates arrived.
Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey, Michael Hills, Simon Thomas;
Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Ian Lyons, Ian Shoebridge.
Supporters: Sam Kleanthous, Danny and Ethan Mullins,
Referee: Paul Parsons
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
Games against Inter the Valley are usually tight affairs and so it proved today. Enormous units at the back, bags of skill in the midfield and bustling pace up front is their trademark and today was no different. They started better than we did and the early chances were theirs and twice in the opening ten minutes Matt Angelo came off his line to thwart Inter forwards intent on burying us. They appeared to have adapted to the surface more quickly than we did and looked more likely to score first. We were more tentative and could not find the cutting edge despite the pace we had down the wings in Michael Hills and Simon Thomas. But, of course, pace is not enough and the greater degree of control, care of the ball, purposeful movement and the menace of a marauding forward who put himself about a fair bit belonged to our opponents. We contrived to lose the ball on the edge of our area, were outnumbered and Inter’s ‘Jonjo Shelvey’ impersonator finished the move with a low drive that beat Matt Angelo.
I cannot say we were creating many chances. In fact, arguably, we did not truly settle and develop a pattern of play until the half-hour when Ian Lyons and Ian Shoebridge came on for Michael Hills and Waine Hetherington. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that the players who went off were doing a poor job (in fact they both came back on to great effect later). No, it was more a case of us improving the positional deployment of our assets. Peter Harvey took his fire and energy up front, Ian Shoebridge stabilised the midfield with much-needed support for Jay Hardy, and Ian Lyons gave us a left midfield player with a left foot and a more defensive mindset.
Earlier in the week George Kleanthous had promised to mark his fiftieth birthday by scoring for Farnborough. He must have consulted the Delphi Oracle. Around the fortieth minute he chased a ball from Peter Harvey into the box, harrying the last Inter defender in the way he does, going all the way to put pressure on the Inter keeper. The latter was confused and partly impeded by his own defender before fluffing his intervention. George was left with a tap-in. It might have looked a simple matter from distance but it was vintage George, all hunger and desire and tireless running. The icing on his birthday cake was that his brother was there to see it happen. We were back on level terms.
The second half was even tougher. Matt Angelo pulled off a couple of amazing saves, airborne, last-minute, finger-tip interventions that defied gravity. We had to defend many corners. Several players went down with knocks, at one point we had two players down at the same time. Still we held on. I am not sure that we came very close to scoring ourselves in the second half. We had good possession moved the ball well but it was peripheral. We never really penetrated and when we did the Inter keeper (not bigger than our own) was there. A volley from Ian Lyons caught the eye.
On the hour Patrice Mongelard and Phil Anthony made way for the return of Michael Hills and Waine Hetherington. Michael, in particular, was called upon at left back to use his pace to thwart Inter more than once. Jay Hardy and Ian Shoebridge held firm in midfield and whenever the balance looked like it was tipping Inter’s way our third Ian – Ian Coles, in the wars today, was there.
In the end a draw was a fair result. It was a tough game, marshalled very well by Paul Parsons, from which both teams emerged with credit.
The repaired showers did their job. It was in there that I caught a glimpse of Simon Thomas’ boot brush – an artefact which Jay Hardy applied elsewhere (don’t ask – here is a clue, it begins with the same two letters).
Five of us made it back to the Farnborough Old Boys Guild clubhouse looking great after renovation (the club house that is) for extensive analysis, and the care of barmaid Leanne (our new caterer). Colin Mant declared himself to be “tour-ready”. He also defended his minimalist match reports on the grounds that “Pat watches the game, I don’t”. I was too hurt and (more to the point) hungry to argue.
Some of our Young Vets were there – including legend Paul Tanton (Farnborough’s all-time top goal scorer with over four hundred goals for the club) who reported a 5-4 win (after being 4-0 down with thirty-five minutes left). Paul kindly offered to see if we could have their home pitch next week.
Man of the match – our guardian angel today, Matt Angelo, who got home at 7:30 this morning. At this rate we’ll be sponsoring his nights out.
Man of the match: Matt Angelo