Sunday 28th October 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Manty winds the clock back thirteen years to maintain Farnborough run
The mild confusion during the week about the location of today’s away ground, which a well liked and respected member of the squad called near hysteria, resurfaced briefly as one or two players made phone calls less than a hundred yards away from the venue with the clock ticking. It was helpful that the clocks had gone back, not forward. When we got there it was clear that the facilities would be a prime candidate for the sort of financial support which the FA is reportedly considering injecting into grassroots football. It had seen far better days – something you could say about most of the players in Vets football, but the sun was peering behind the passing rain clouds and the pitch looked to be in very good nick. The games between Farnborough and Ashburnham have been close and keenly but fairly fought. The pre-match team talk was curtailed when Mick O’Flynn realised that Ian Shoebridge was not playing and he had to re-work the spreadsheet.
When eventually assembled our squad of fourteen looked like this:
Michael Hills, Mark Friend, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Kypros ‘Romelu’ Michael.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Colin Mant, Mick O’Flynn.
Supporters: David Orji and Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
I confess news had reached us of the 11-0 demolition job Ashburnham had done on West Farleigh Vets a few weeks ago, with one forward scoring eight times. We think that player was playing today but there was no need to let him know we were there, early doors. We enjoyed a good measure of control in the opening stages which gave us heart. When Kypros Michael gave us the lead about ten minutes into the game with a sizzling left foot shot which the Ashburnham keeper could not hold it was with the run of play. So too was the second goal we got a quarter of an hour later when Gordon Thompson and Peter Harvey carved open the Ashburnham defence and Gordon finished the assist from Peter from close range. In between the two goals we had carried a threat winning numerous corners and drawing last ditch tackles from the robust Ashburnham defence. Our own tackling could be on the brusque side and one Ashburnham player did mutter something to me about going to work in the morning. To break the ice, I mentioned I was retired. Kypros Michael had to retire prematurely with a recurrence of the knee trouble that has dogged him this season and Colin Mant was on shortly to sniff the air up front, before the other two half-hour changes were made with Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas making way for Mick O’Flynn and Phil Anthony. This took a bit of flair and pace out of our game. Ashburnham began to exert more pressure on our box, their star player was making his presence felt despite the ministrations of Mark Friend and Michael Hills. With Matt Angelo in goal anything was possible but we thought we would hold on to half-time.
The weather was initially a bit Pearl Harbour but that does not explain the kamikaze defending from Phil Anthony which gifted Ashburnham a way back into the game to make it 2-1. Of course, Phil did not mean to underhit the pass back to Matt Angelo which set up the Ashburnham forward, hitherto starved of service, very nicely to slot the ball past Matt. It was only two weeks ago that Phil played for an opposing team. The clocks went back an hour not two weeks. Time travel today though belonged to Colin Mant.; thirteen years in fact, more on that later. I should say that Phil went on to put that moment behind him and give a more assured performance for the rest of the game.
As is often said in football the next goal was going to be crucial. It did not take long as the second half got underway. We caused dismay in the Ashburnham box from a corner and in the crowd scene that followed the ball fell to Colin Mant in the six-yard box. Colin cleverly disguised the quality of the contact – from the touchline three of us agreed unanimously that he had shinned it, but it appears he was aiming for the underside of the bar beyond the reach of the Ashburnham keeper who had morphed into a different player. On the hour Gordon Thompson and Mark Friend made way for the return of Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas (with Phil Anthony and Mick O’Flynn now gracing the left side of our defence with a solid display).
We all had to work hard as Ashburnham pressed to get back into the game. Their star man produced a shot of great quality to reduce the deficit. He nearly equalised with a pile-driver that Matt Angelo miraculously tipped round the post with an acrobatic gravity-defying save. Things were getting serious and just when we needed it Peter Harvey provided the relief we craved to restore our two goal cushion. I am not sure what was classier, the visionary through ball from Waine Hetherington or the predatory finish from Peter low into the bottom corner which appeared to punch a hole through the net.
Still Ashburnham pressed and Michael Hills and Patrice Mongelard produced a succession of tackles and clearing headers. Patrice Mongelard lifted a peach of a ball over the Ashburnham defence for Colin Mant, the 2005-06 Farnborough Old Boys Guild Vets Golden Boot, to “run” clear through on goal but the finish was not there as he got caught in treacle. It did not matter as five minutes later Colin followed a ball into the Ashburnham box – a defender was ahead of him and the keeper was also coming out to get involved. What followed was, from our point of view, a good thing. The keeper lashed the ball against the back of his defender, the flight of the rebound was kind to Manty, now in a race with the keeper to claim the ball. It looked like Manty was operating in slow motion but that did not matter because the keeper was slower and a tired and elated Manty bundled the ball over the line, for a most improbable but welcome brace.
5-2 was a fair reflection of the match but it was not an easy game, far from it. You only have to ask Peter Harvey, taken roughly from behind repeatedly.
I avoided the showers as the hot water tap could not be activated. I had been thinking of another shower scene, oddly, involving a female player we once played against on our last visit to this ground. I understand food was laid on the Old Tamponians ground just around the corner but I had an appointment with some left over Cantonese fried rice at home, and wall papering with Mrs M.
Man of the match: Michael Hills and Colin Mant could not be separated, a Halloween double act you could say. You decide who is trick and who is treat.
Man of the match: Michael Hills and Colin Mant