Sunday 4th November 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Belvedere finally run out of luck against Farnborough
Farnborough Old Boys Guild Senior Vets historians will know that we do not tend to do well against today’s opponents. Indeed, five weeks ago we lost by the odd goal in a five-goal thriller at Belvedere and they commented that we did not usually have much luck at their place. Well today they had no luck at ours. It might have started with the players they had available but we made our luck. The scoreline does not lie. It could have been more if Lady Luck had been truly on our side.
The highlight of the pre-match humour was Peter Harvey’s observation that he was aggressive, negative and cynical. This contrasted with the poster left on the inside of the changing room yesterday which exhorted the away team to be aggressive, positive and clinical. On a dry, mild and overcast day we could not help wonder if our run of form would continue but today’s opponents demanded respect. It had been a few seasons since we had got the better of them. We mustered fourteen players for the latest attempt.
Michael Hills, Mark Friend, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Colin Mant.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Lyons
Referee: Paul “Play-on” Parsons.
Supporters: Kathleen and Thea Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Tony Harvey, David Orji, Ian Shoebridge.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
We started well and had reasons to be optimistic. Belvedere incursions into our box were rare and the bulk of the play was in their half. Jay Hardy broke the deadlock about ten minutes in with a bustling run that took him past three Belvedere players and into the box before he fired low into the bottom corner with a clean strike of the ball. Simon Thomas will still be shaking his head at the free header he missed at the far post two yards from goal soon after. Peter Harvey doubled our lead from the penalty spot by drilling the ball low and hard after he had been taken down from behind. The penalty might have seemed harsh but sportingly Belvedere made nothing of it. Their main threat came from set pieces but we managed to survive a few corners and free kicks.
On the half-hour we made three changes with Phil Anthony, Ian Lyons and Sinisa Gracanin coming on for Patrice Mongelard, Mark Friend and Waine Hetherington. Sinisa’s return from a long layoff from injury was marked with a smart finish when he scored our third with the sort of technical aplomb that Croatians are capable of. He made the most of an assist from Peter Harvey in a crowded box to steer the ball along the ground into the corner of the net – there was more finesse than power (a bit like Luka Modric) and Colin Mant was wondering if he should get the curling broom out as the ball made its way in a stately fashion into the net. Belvedere were showing signs of resurgence as the first half tailed off but Rob Faulkner in our goal produced his normally assured performance to reassure the team.
We carried on in the same vein after half-time. Jay Hardy, a bundle of energy, hard tackling and purposeful running produced a gem about ten minutes after the restart to increase our lead. Another assist from Peter Harvey (a fantasy football favourite) was transformed into a golden moment as Jay placed a twenty-five yarder into the corner well beyond the reach of the Belvedere keeper. With half an hour left Colin Mant, Michael Hills and Obi Ugwumba made way for the return of Mark Friend, Waine Hetherington and Patrice Mongelard. We continued the same brand of passing football but the next goal was pure route one as Rob Faulkner launched another trademark goal kick downfield for Jay Hardy to anticipate and run on to before lifting the ball exquisitely over the Belvedere keeper who had been drawn off his line.
Rob Faulkner then injured himself as he stretched unnecessarily to reach a high ball that was going wide (as helpfully pointed out by some of our players). His calf had gone. I have often wondered where they go. Waine Hetherington took the opportunity to remind everyone of his goalkeeping talent by taking the gloves and going on to produce the best save of the game to preserve our clean sheet. Michael Hills came back on, and was to come as near to scoring as he has been this season.
Mick O’Flynn could not quite last the full ninety minutes and was replaced by Colin Mant to see the game out. The eighty minutes or so he played had been purposeful and dynamic. Some of the lads want the pills Mick has been having. He came close to scoring with a flying header in the second half – if he only had a couple more inches to play with, he would have been in. He would be a terrifying prospect with half a yard of pace. Our sixth and last goal came from a corner with about ten minutes left. Peter Harvey swung it in with his customary vicious intent and Ian Lyons did the rest with a well placed header at the far post. Lionel had gone up with the prophetic words that “one day the ball is going to land on my head”. He grimaced through the celebration because the act of scoring had involved Mark Friend landing on Lionel’s foot as both players vied for position.
To their credit Belvedere, who do not lose often, played the game in the right spirit and they were complimentary about our performance. They did ask the referee at one point if we had more than eleven players on the pitch and Simon Thomas was chided for not launching himself into the bushes to retrieve a ball quickly enough. There was time in the final moments for both Peter Harvey and Michael Hills to hit the woodwork (well it is metal work really but you know what I mean). You could say Belvedere had a bit of luck after all. It was lucky for them too that a theatrical Simon Thomas did not connect with the ball while executing an acrobatic scissor kick at the far post.
There is not much shower action to report this week. Our showers malfunctioned and could only produce a thin drizzle, marginally better than the showers we did not experience last Sunday. Mick O’Flynn visited one of the other changing rooms to see what a big one looked like, and to have his small one laughed at, a sound system that is. I fear we have not seen the last of a huge speaker on wheels with flashing lights. People will still complain about the play list I expect, never mind the size of the organ.
Fifty crusty bread rolls and three packs each of sausage rolls and mini pasties did not last long. The lads thought it would be hilarious to give the last few sausage rolls and mini meat pasties that I had my eye on, and in fact had started consuming, to the people on an adjoining table. Still they had excellent manners and thanked me, including when I was in the act of reimbursing Leanne for the food. We must get news to our guests that we are not playing at home next Sunday.
There was a lot of analysis to be done after the game and several jugs appeared, including from hat-trick boy Jay Hardy, and a nostalgic Steve Blanchard. We discussed the availability of a masseuse for the forthcoming tour of Prague next May, gave Simon Thomas firm marital advice not least because he took the kit home, and agreed with Leanne that the clubhouse hoover sucked.
Man of the match: On a day of surprises Jay Hardy and Mick O’Flynn could not be separated initially, but a casting vote from Paul Parsons was registered in Mick’s favour. Paul might have been charitable to the elderly but he is playing with fire if you ask me.
Man of the match: Mick O'Flynn