Sunday 17th December 2017
By Mark Harrington
Supporter: Mike O’Flynn
Team: Gary Rosslee, James Clarke, Robin Moody, Frank Pearce, Joe Champ, Dean Wyatt, Dean Murphy, Damien Preston, Simon Davies, Alan Fines, Paul Tanton
Justin Blundell, Barry Grainger, Peter Harvey.
Our home fixture at the start of season against our local rivals was a hard fought and tense game and we came out just on top by the odd goal and so we fully expected this away match to be much the same. If I am honest I was feeling a little nervous that our excellent run would be put under threat especially, as we had a number of injuries and absences to cope with. We have not had to cancel a game so far this season due to lack of players and so having a large pool to call on is certainly justified. We were this weekend without Marcus Allen, Darragh Nott, Neil Pearce, Matti Wright, Jon Redman, Jason Miller, Jon Gasson, Steve Shippey, Rob Mullen, Tom Naughton and Jez Mooney. Eleven players who would walk into any vets side. Whilst we can bemoan injuries we still managed to field 14 players and it was great to have Barry Grainger completing 60 mins and even better to see Justin Blundell making his long awaited return from a broken ankle to give us his first 50 minutes of the season.
Whilst the quality of missing players would hurt any side our squad is blessed with so many good players and this was evident today. The threat to end our winning ways could have come early but Gary again made another super save in a one on one situation and that was as close as it got as this squad is packed not with just ability, skill and technical excellence but with huge amounts of determination to play well, defend in numbers and track back and support each other.
Our local rivals really found us in top form and once the first goal came in the 12th minute from a fine James Clarke cross that the defender headed into his own net the floodgates opened. Whilst the number of goals will grab headlines the football was simply too much for our oppo. I hate to single one player out but much of the good work started from Simon Davies playing in an unfamiliar central midfield role. The big man on his birthday played like a just ever so slightly leaner Jan Molby. His control, passing and calming influence was superb and the Orpington Vets could not handle the triangles being played between Si, both Deans, Tant and Alan. Our second and third goals both came from Alan, one a penalty in the 14th minute when Dean Wyatt had been chopped in the area and the other in the 23rd minute, a smart effort when he rounded the keeper to slot home. Alan completing his fourth hat-trick in 5 games from a penalty after being bundled over and he picked himself up and he sent the keeper the wrong way and but for a saved pen at HSBC he would be ending the year with 5 trebles in a row. Four and a brace is an incredible effort and not bad at the halfway point of the season with a tally of 26 goals! We have shut the book on the Golden Boot award. Sadly super Al pulled a hamstring but hopefully the Christmas and NY break will see him recover in time for our next game.
Our midfield ran the game but our back four were equally impressive and superbly marshalled by Robin Moody who as captain for the day excelled along with Frank and James. Joe is the Denis Irwin of Farnborough. Such quality distribution and you never see him have a bad game. He is an 8 out of 10 in every game.
Unfortunately, Damien Preston who had been giving us good width on the left, felt his calf and so came off injured to be replaced by Peter Harvey (emergency loan from the Senior Vets). Thanks to Peter who proved to be a great outlet and could have scored one or two himself. Of course no one mentioned to him how many he scored in an 11 goal game. In all seriousness, we are grateful to him for offering his services on a day when we encountered a few more nagging pulls and I think he quite enjoyed it in front of his watching manager-come-spy Mike O’Flynn.
In the 38th minute with literally his first touch after coming on, Barry volleyed home a superb cross from Joe Champ for the goal of the day. It has been great to have Barry back and we must now possess the most firepower of the sides we play. Barry’s second touch would have brought the house down if it had gone in or I would have had to run off to trap 3 to contain my excitement. The football was superb with almost everyone in the team playing a part but sadly and thankfully for Mrs H, Barry’s effort just went wide. In the 44th minute Paul Tanton fired into the right hand side of the goal from a scramble to make the half-time score 0-6. A goal Tant fully deserved as he was at the end of every triangle playing simple passes with his back to goal and keeping possession.
I have not even got to the real star of the show yet! Dean ‘Rhino’ Wyatt had an awesome game. Anyone would have thought it was his birthday. If there is a blade of grass not covered by Rhino today then it must have been on the next pitch. He absolutely ran the midfield and his graft allowed the likes of Si and Dean Murphy to play. Rhino tackled, harassed, players bounced off him but he still managed to score two excellent goals in the 55th and 63rd minutes. His second a super cross shot. He did not stop running which is sort of strange for a driving instructor. His energy levels were amazing and he fully deserved the landslide victory for Man of the Match award. On a day when we had 11 players playing superbly it just goes to show how well Rhino played with 12 votes. Dean Murphy played out of position on the right of midfield and on any other day would have got 12 votes for his energy, crossing and Dean got his reward with a super hard and low strike into the net in the 70th minute. The scoring for us was completed when our oppo put through their own net for the second time, one player's clearance hitting another and going straight in.
Orpington Vets are a good bunch and despite the scoreline, did not resort to kicking or turning the game into an ugly affair and they were rewarded with a goal with the very last kick of the game when we for once did not clear our lines and a collision between Gary and Frank, which normally would grace WWE, allowed a simple tap in. The oppo celebrated in good fun and even we could see the funny side. Don’t worry Gary you have three weeks to recover!
We could not quite believe the scoreline and it was hard on Orpington who have probably not encountered such a defeat before. Our games have always been close but today we all clicked and they were on the end of good players coming into form, being confident and whose abilities need no questioning. The only downside was the commentators' curse on Si’s injury. On the sideline we were waxing lyrical on his play when just at that point he missed the ball and pulled his already tender groin. Perhaps no late night birthday celebrations for the big man and his Mrs. Justin also came off as a precaution and we finished the game with 10 men so we hope Si, Al, Damo and Justin are fine with a few weeks rest.
So we completed the year with the 11 wins on the trot and hope to take this into the second half of the season. Whilst wins are great it is the football that has been so enjoyable to watch that shows our progress. Well done to all those who have played in our impressive run. Hopefully, you and your families will have a great Christmas, those nagging injuries will clear and look forward to seeing you in the New Year, if not before in either of our local watering holes.
PS. Don’t forget if any of you want to play in the Club game on the 23rd then do let me know and I’ll let the managers know.
Man of the match: Dean Wyatt