Sunday 9th September 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Carry On Farnborough as Senior Vets come from behind
Sadly, I must start with a slightly discordant note, despite our victory. There has been a complaint from our Director of Football, Mick O’Flynn, absent today but not really missed, about my recent match reports. He feels these reports have gone downhill because I have let “the puerile aspect slide a little”. So, breaking the habit of a lifetime, I am going to have to lower the tone from now on. To borrow an analogy from the world of film I have been feeding my audience some avant-garde world cinema when in fact all they wanted was some Carry On films. On another sunny morning we had the added bonus of being the only team at home today and so got to use the big pitch. Whether this is now the better of our two pitches is a matter for mass debate. What is not for debate is the sweat that Jay Hardy broke in liberating and wheeling into place the goal posts – apparently all on his own. He reported the wheels had come off one of the goals – but would the wheels come off our bus today after two back to back wins?
Phil Anthony, Mark Friend, Michael Hills;
Jay Hardy, Colin Mant, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson;
George Kleanthous, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Peter Harvey, Patrice Mongelard, Obi Ugwumba.
Supporters: Steve Blanchard, Tony Harvey, David Orji, Michael Ugwumba Jr, Gary Willison.
Refereee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
We did not start well. CUACO had more of the play and kept the ball in our half. They forced a string of early corners, and even had a shout for an early goal in the belief that the ball had crossed our line from a scramble following their second corner. There was a doubt in the referee’s mind as Michael Hills had thrust a sensitive part of his anatomy forward to interrupt the path of the ball. To their credit the CUACO players made no fuss and carried on with the game.
Clear scoring opportunities were as rare as hen’s teeth. George Kleanthous had a left foot drive from the edge of the box that threatened to dip into the net at the far post until the CUACO keeper somehow managed to get his left hand to the ball after an agile contortion. We lacked fluency, the passing was approximate and hurried and we did not always take the best options – which in most cases meant giving the ball to Gordon Thompson or George Kleanthous. Our European Golden Boot Kypros Michael was playing his first game after an extended holiday and lavish birthday celebrations in Cyprus, and it showed. You would be forgiven for thinking he had overdone the kleftiko, souvlaki, moussaka, baklava and Turkish delight on the luxury holiday courtesy of the Paphos Taxi Drivers Betting Syndicate. He would have had a job winning the Golden Pantoufles today. But he will get better and work harder, and to be fair there were fleeting glimpses of the quality that lies beneath. The CUACO defender who got in the way of a Kypros volley will be sore in the morning.
On the half-hour Patrice Mongelard, Peter Harvey and Obi Ugwumba replaced Mark Friend, Ian Shoebridge and George Kleanthous. Peter had been chomping at the bit on the touchline and wasted no time in giving us more up top as they say. However, just as we thought we had contrived to weather the CUACO pressure we conspired to fall behind about seven minutes before half-time. Colin “Kante” Mant aimed an unwise pass across the pitch in front of the defence wide to where Simon Thomas had called for the ball, initially moving back towards his goal, instead of going forward, and then doing little to claim the ball. The pass was undercooked, intercepted and the CUACO player involved drove into the box to place a shot above Rob Faulkner’s head and in off the underside of the bar.
Kypros Michael and Phil Anthony departed at half-time with George Kleanthous and Mark Friend resuming their positions. There was not much to say at half-time – we knew we had goals in our locker and just needed more composure, patience and faith in our abilities. Whatever zephyrs were about were now behind us as we set about clawing our way back into the game with our passing now quicker, crisper and making better use of space. It did not take long. Gordon Thompson teed up Peter Harvey on the edge of the CUACO box for a shot that surprised us because it came from Peter’s right foot, and surprised the CUACO keeper even more as what looked like a tame effort deceived him to slip through his hands and between his legs to roll into the net. It looked a tad fortuitous but it was not against the run of play. We began to earn free kicks in dangerous positions on the edges of the CUACO box. Five minutes later Peter Harvey stood over one such free kick made for a left footer and the resulting shot dipped and bounced over the diving keeper into the bottom corner. Once again, the keeper will be tempted to blame himself for the goal but some credit needs to go to Peter for the intent and execution of the shot.
Now that we had edged ahead we played our most assured football. A third goal duly followed after excellent approach play by Gordon Thompson which led to a shot on goal that the CUACO keeper spilled. Peter Harvey was on the scene quickly, asserted his rights over the ball, glided wide of the keeper and from the tightest of angles claimed his second hat-trick of the season, this one though was witnessed in full and in real time by dad Tony on the touchline. By then CUACO who were playing their first game of the season were breathing heavily and we seemed able to penetrate at will. Simon Thomas engineered a fourth goal for us after one of our corners was not cleared properly. Mark Friend had gone up for the corner was still lurking in the box, and was in the right place to belt Simon’s pull back into the net from a yard out. Mark enjoyed that as he could not remember when he had last scored for Farnborough Vets. Even at 4-1 we did not relent. Ian Shoebridge was back on for Gordon Thompson and was at the heart of several promising moves. We could have gone ahead even further. We knew that this was going to be George Kleanthous’ last game before the ankle operation that will keep him out for the rest of the season and several players tried to get him the goal that his effervescent performance deserved. He flashed a low drive against the post after a through ball from Simon Thomas. Later on, he was put clear on goal but was undecided with only the keeper to beat. Michael Hills found himself unmarked at the far post to receive a cross from Simon Thomas. Michael could have headed the ball in but he had already opted for an acrobatic “Chinese” scissor kick that looked good on the eye even when it failed.
At the other end there was not much for Rob Faulkner to do. I do not recall a single CUACO corner in the second half; yet on a rare incursion they earned a generous penalty with about eight minutes left. Rob Faulkner guessed right, got down low to his right ad parried the shot; however, it looped up and as it came down Rob was like a kitten playing with a ball of string and he palmed the ball into our net. OG had struck for the first time this season. We held on to claim a victory that was the right result. On the way back to the clubhouse after helping Jay Hardy take down the nets – a task that he felt, rightly, that others should have been doing – I was given another opportunity to inhale the thin air of the real football fan’s experience when Peter Harvey showed me his ticket for the Spurs v Liverpool game at Wembley on 15 September.
Leanne MacDonald Catering Services did a sterling job with fifty bread rolls and supporting nibbles, and the job she did cleaning the place up after last night’s birthday party was top notch too.
Man of the match – Peter Harvey, a proud father’s delight, with a hat-trick that turned the game on its head, and a real football fan.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey