Sunday 21st October 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough make heavy weather of it in glorious autumn sunshine
There is something really uplifting and life-enhancing about a sports field bathed in sunshine with the morning dew waiting to moisten one’s boots, in the still air enriched with autumn colours. The Old Dunstonians Sports Club in Beckenham (BR3 3SS) probably sees more rugby than football played going by the evidence of pitch markings and goal posts. Sometimes there is toxophily too, but not today. (Editor's note - that's archery to us mere mortals).
Our squad of sixteen withered to twelve overnight but club stalwarts Luke Johnson and Matt Ellis responded to the call.
Michael Hills, Luke Johnson, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Shoebridge, Obi Ugwumba;
Matt Ellis, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Peter Harvey, Lee Loizou, Simon Thomas.
Supporters: David Orji and Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Before the game started both teams had, separately, a talk from the avuncular referee which was a useful ice-breaker and scene-setter. He noted the angle of the sun, the multi-coloured pitch markings and the difficult jobs that linesmen do. He said he would probably make mistakes but would aim to be fair to both teams. Specifically, he cautioned against bad language given the large number of young children playing rugby on adjacent pitches. He promised to give a tug to anyone who talked dirty. I wondered if he had overheard Michael Hills in the changing room talking about using Vaseline for every time he went down.
It took a while for both teams to get going. We carried more menace but CUACO defended deep and in numbers, and our passing lacked the crispness that we are becoming used to. Kypros Michael looked like he was determined to shake off that monkey on his back by finally getting on the scoresheet. He put a shot against the bar and was looking hungry (not for kebabs or Turkish delight). Our two-time European Golden Boot latched on to a perceptive through ball from Jay Hardy to break through the middle of the CUACO defence but then was taken roughly from behind. Kypros despatched the penalty with aplomb. This settled us down but we could not carve out decent opportunities, despite some stunning long-range Hollywood cross-field balls from Luke Johnson to Matt Ellis. However, Matt earned a free kick on the edge of the box and ignored calls to let Obi Ugwumba take it. It was the right decision as Matt curled an exquisitely crisp right footer into the top corner. The CUACO keeper, who proved to be quite an obstinate obstacle, was powerless on this occasion. Another set piece had come good for us.
We made changes on the half-hour with Peter Harvey, Lee Loizou and Simon Thomas replacing Matt Ellis, Obi Ugwumba and Ian Shoebridge. Matt, Obi and Ian would all come back in the second half. Simon was not the spent force his late coming might have presaged, but immediately settled into his tough-man role on the right to bamboozle the CUACO defence with his quick feet and direct runs. A moment of finesse from Peter Harvey brought Kypros Michael his second goal of the morning as a delicately weighted through ball got, for once and at last, the finish it deserved. I looked forward to brushing macaque fur off Kyp’s shoulders at half-time. There was no finesse though when Peter Harvey was taken out by the CUACO goal keeper just outside the box on the right wing. I confess I worry when Peter goes down (will he be OK to play badminton tomorrow?) and it took him a while to get back on his feet. Nothing came of the free kick – a square ball to Waine Hetherington sent by telegraph, yesterday.
At 3-0 up and seemingly cruising – it became a mystery how we did not go on to consolidate and extend our dominance. We were a tad fortunate that a CUACO goal from a corner was disallowed for interfering with the keeper before half-time. The neutral would have expected Farnborough to grow the score but we were out of sorts. I do not think that the absence of oranges had anything to do with it but I will put my hand up to having forgotten to get them. It is not an item Mrs M reminds me to get in Sainsbury’s on a Saturday morning.
I am not sure what the cause of the malaise was that came over us in the second half. Waine Hetherington took a breather while Ian Shoebridge was back on. Early in the half thanks to the latter, Kypros had a great opportunity, one on one, to bag a hat-trick but the CUACO keeper was not to be beaten again. In fact, he grew into the game. He dived low to stop another Matt Ellis free kick. He made himself big to claw at a ball that Peter Harvey tried to lift over his head after Peter had broken free into the box. He punched several corners away. More than once we got behind the CUACO defence but could not capitalise. An extra touch by Simon Thomas looked extravagant when a square ball to Peter Harvey could have yielded a better dividend. When the ball was used intelligently and unselfishly the finish was not there. The normally precise and crisp Matt Ellis will not want to be reminded, but I will anyway, of his atrocious miss two yards out after Peter Harvey had set him up. The presence of the rugby goals immediately behind the football goals could have confused him but he was not around later in the bar to explain why he went for a drop goal (as Peter Harvey noted). Obi Ugwumba lifted a delicate ball over the CUACO defence for Ian Shoebridge to wallop into the goal but the ball would not come down fast enough for Shoey, and the moment passed.
At the other end Matt Angelo was doing his best to keep up his high eccentricity score. Dodgy clearances, mad dashes off his line, undercooked passes – the full repertoire. We had to defend against a resurgent CUACO, for which they should be given credit. With a quarter of an hour left they scored after an indecently quick free kick whilst we were beginning to consider whether it would be a good idea to have a wall. Ian Shoebridge picked up his usual autumn calf strain and could not see the game out. We even had to bring Jay Hardy back on for Lee Loizou to weather the CUACO resurgence, and Mick O’Flynn replaced the injured Ian Shoebridge for the last ten minutes. In the end our first half display was enough even if we could not embellish it in the second half, as our defence held firm, in no small way thanks to the double athletic presence of Michael Hills and Luke Johnson.
Unfortunately there are no buffet delights to regale you with on this occasion. We saw other people eat on the premises, but we had to make do with crisps and pork scratchings. A CUACO player, a teacher by occupation, came over to our table in a very loud and ample shirt, to admire the length of our fixture list. He apologised for his keeper taking Peter Harvey out in the first half though he said he found it hilarious that none of the Farnborough players rushed over to see if Peter was OK. We found it hilarious when Mick O’Flynn asked him if he was a PE teacher. Luke Johnson also found some of Patrice Mongelard’s jokes hilarious. The one about Jehovah’s witnesses and testicles caused Matt Angelo to splutter, shake and spill his drink badly, more spillage from what should be a safe pair of hands.
Man of the match: Luke Johnson who told his missus he was playing nine holes of golf and ended up with nine votes.
Man of the match: Luke Johnson