Sunday 13th May 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough win after giving hope to opponents
The weather was not as glorious as last week but it stayed dry for our last Sunday home game this season. Our opponents today, Ashburnham Wanderers, had given us a tough game at their place on 29 October which had left two of our players with broken digits in a narrow 3-2 away win, quite by accident (the hurty digits that is not the result). Hopes had been raised overnight that Mick O’Flynn might not be well enough to play. Any disappointment was swept aside by the sight of former player Paul Scotter who had come to watch the game. Paul promised not to cause any crowd trouble, under the watchful eye of Mrs S.
Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas;
Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Mark Friend, Peter Harvey, Michael Hills, Mick O’Flynn, Danny Mullins.
Supporters: Anne and Paul Scotter.
Referee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Director of Football: Mick(aldinho) O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
After the longer than usual warm-up – as we waited for the Ashburnham keeper to arrive, referee Paul Parsons got us under way after he put on a lime green bib to accommodate the black strip of our opponents. Paul’s interactive retro refereeing, delivered with Brian Blessed’s voice, has been much appreciated – this was his ninth assignment with us this season, and there is one more to come in midweek, on Thursday.
We wanted to start with the same intensity and purpose as last Sunday but I am not sure we quite managed it. It was with the run of play that we took the lead about ten minutes into the game. George Kleanthous had turned his marker and created space for a cross which was diverted past the Ashburnham keeper by one of his own players who shinned an attempted clearance. Harry Kane might have claimed a similar goal but George was too honest to do so and OG became our third-highest goal scorer this season. There was an element of good fortune to it but it did not feel undeserved.
Ashburnham reacted well to going behind and nearly got back in the game after Matt Angelo spilled a shot behind him only to be rescued by Ian Coles with a goal line clearance facing the back of the net. This was not the first frisson caused by Matt today, more on that later. We got more luck when Ashburnham pulled their most dangerous player – a bearded wonder on the wing, back into the heart of their defence. That stopped them scoring but it stopped us too.
The half-hour changes were made – with Patrice Mongelard, Sinisa Gracanin, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant and Simon Thomas making way for Mark Friend, Peter Harvey, Michael Hills, Mick O’Flynn and Danny Mullins. Ashburnham will have cast envious eyes at such riches – it is fair to say that their squad was a little threadbare. Ten minutes later we doubled our lead after Peter Harvey had left his marker for dead on the left wing and lifted an exquisite cross to the far post where our smallest player Jay Hardy leapt like the proverbial salmon to power the ball home from a yard out. The 2-0 score felt right at half-time, even if there was a nagging feeling that we had not quite shaken off our opponents.
That feeling grew early in the second half when Mick O’Flynn played one of his legendary back passes (with blue flashing lights) to Matt Angelo as an Ashburnham forward bore down on Matt. Matt’s attempted clearance was 75% fresh air and 25% back spin as he managed to loft the ball behind him but was able to scramble pack to paw the ball out. To say there is never a dull moment with Matt would be an understatement; and I am not telling you what goes on off the pitch. You do not have to be mad to play in goal for the Farnborough Senior Vets but it undoubtedly helps.
Anyway – cometh the hour and we make the final five changes with Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington and Ian Shoebridge making way for the five who went off on the half-hour. Soon after we had a wobble – the Ashburnham bearded wonder was back in their attack and he cut in from the left and unleashed an unstoppable thirty-yarder into the top corner. I was impelled to shake his hand. Ten minutes later Ashburnham punished us again this time from a sweet left-footed free kick that sailed over Matt Angelo into the other corner. By our own standards this was a remarkable turn-around.
With a quarter of an hour left it was not entirely clear who would claim maximum points. We were creating chances but not taking them. We then had a moment which commentators describe as being “straight off the training ground”. We won a free kick just outside the Ashburnham box. Peter Harvey stood over the ball, wrote a telegram saying he would slip the ball to his left to George Kleanthous in splendid isolation, and from there George lifted the ball to the far post where Simon Thomas applied his quiff to it and we were back in the lead. And some people still contend that Simon’s acting contract has a clause which forbids him from heading the ball. There is always radio work I suppose. That was not the end of the excitement. The last five minutes or so were tetchy. Peter Harvey had latched on to a ball over the top, drawn the keeper off his line before lifting the ball into an empty net. The goal was given but that did not prevent a protracted debate between Peter and the Ashburnham left back and others, about the offside law, and who was where when the ball was kicked, and when it bounced, and when it came off an Ashburnham head before reaching Peter. I do not think things were about to get out of hand even when an Ashburnham player said to Peter “You are worse than my wife” – presumably meaning that Peter would not shut up in an argument. A bit tough on the wife I thought.
And that is how it ended at 4-2 to us, and I am pleased to say there was no ill feeling at the end. After all the Ashburnham manager and Mick O’Flynn are former school mates even if he refused our offer to take Mick off our hands next season. Indeed, it was good to see many Ashburnham players and supporters in the bar enjoying our hospitality. It looked they were giving out some of their team awards. I could not see the player who had mentioned his wife to Peter Harvey. Presumably he was under orders to rush back.
The new catering arrangements continue to be a success with crusty rolls and mini meat pasties making a welcome appearance. However, we were ushered out of the club at 14:30 but thankfully the “Woodman” public house next door was open to give refuge to six Farnborough wanderers (where I had the pleasure of watching two Liverpool goals go in). Incidentally, this deprived at least one of my team mates of a source of fun. There is a beer for the first person, who was not there obviously, who correctly identifies the other five of the Woodman Six (excluding me).
I should mention that some of the match subs collected today will be going towards a charity event for the benefit of a former Avery Hill Vets player, Sylvester, who has lost part of his limbs following a blood disorder.
Man of the match – Simon Thomas, owner of the finest quiff in Kent, in Farnborough at least, who tipped the balance when it mattered most.
Man of the match: Simon Thomas