Sunday 2nd December 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Derby day honours even for Senior Vets
On a day of several derby matches in football land, the big one in the Farnborough and Orpington Senior Vets universe was Orpington v. Farnborough Old Boys Guild. It did not disappoint.
The goalkeeping net cast upon the Orpington and Farnborough waters during the week had hauled in Toby Manchip, erstwhile self-appointed overall club captain. Once again, a keeper for us was proving as rare as an Orpington buff’s teeth but the lads seemed pleased to be spared a second week of Patrice Mongelard in goal, despite a proper set of gloves having been procured midweek. The pitch at the Beckenham Cricket Club in Foxgrove Road
had coped with the deluges of recent days and was in splendid condition, on a dry and mild, albeit overcast morning.
We had only twelve players when the game kicked off at 10:30. Jay Hardy was still asleep in Grove Park, having knocked himself out watching the boxing. Mick O’Flynn did well to hide his fury when he woke Jay up with his call.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Gordon Thompson.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, and a tardy Jay Hardy.
Supporters pitchside: Danny and baby Ethan Mullins (with mum’s looks).
Supporter in the bar: Steve Blanchard.
Linesman: Ian Coles.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
It was clear from the warm-up that Orpington had assembled a squad to do a job on us today, to avenge their 8-2 defeat in August. New faces, old faces, and a lot of muscle were on display. Their star player Kevin declared himself fit after five hours of sleep (Jay Hardy - take note) to run rings round our defence. Both teams started well, moving the ball about with both defences kept busy. The first scare was ours though as Toby Manchip was called upon to fingertip the ball over the bar. The post came to our rescue on the quarter-hour but before the half-hour we had let in two goals. The first came when Toby parried but did not gather a shot and the ball fell kindly for the tall Orpington forward who used his body to bundle the ball over the line. The same player turned in a cross ten minutes later and confusion ensued. The referee initially ruled the goal out for offside, and play had in fact moved on. But there was a clamour and he was persuaded to speak to linesman Ian Coles who was unable to confirm the offside situation. Ian had one job to do today, one job, and all we can say is that he did it with utter honesty.
In between those two Orpington goals we had what we thought was a clear penalty when Peter Harvey rounded the Orpington keeper and was brought down. The referee was not persuaded by the skid marks inside the box and a likely penalty became a free kick that yielded nothing. On the half-hour Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas made way for Phil Anthony and Jay Hardy who had finally arrived and after some trouble with the zip of his top eventually came on. I think that Jay himself would agree that his usual zip was not there today. At only three days away from his 44th birthday he found that two and a half hours of sleep are not ideal preparation for a derby game. This was confirmed soon after he came on when Jay was put clean through on goal and lifted the ball over the bar as the giant Orpington keeper came at him like a heavyweight boxer.
For the second consecutive game we found ourselves facing a test of character as the second half got under way. Simon Thomas resumed his role on the right as Obi Ugwumba (fifty-one earlier in the week) sat on a wooden bench which was there in honour of a great sportsman called Mick. I could not make out the rest of the inscription. We began to put the Orpington goal under more pressure. Gordon Thompson raised our spirits with a mazy run, beating two defenders before firing narrowly wide. Soon after Simon Thomas almost climaxed a sweeping passing move but his shot was wide from two yards out after he had ghosted in like a phantom behind the Orpington defence.
At the other end Orpington were not creating as many chances. Their forward Kevin was having to drop deep and do a lot of running but there was always a ring of Farnborough players around him. We lost a bit of momentum when Peter Harvey dropped deep and the options up front narrowed but we made the adjustment with changes on the hour with Patrice Mongelard and Obi Ugwumba back on for Colin Mant and Waine Hetherington. With Jay Hardy, Gordon Thompson and Simon Thomas now probing more and deeper we got our reward. Peter Harvey set up Gordon Thompson for a low finish from a narrow angle and it was game on. Five minutes later Sinisa Gracanin was on hand for a left foot finish that drew us level. Sini had two bites at it – his first shot was parried, the ball came back to him, it looked like he played a one-two with an Orpington defender and was perfectly positioned to gather the rebound and produce a composed finish. The emotion of it all was too much for a spent Mick O’Flynn and he ushered Waine Hetherington back on to restore the game management craft that we needed at that point whilst still pushing for a winner.
The last quarter of an hour was packed with incident. We had good chances to win it. Jay Hardy (with a bicycle kick a yard out no less) and Simon Thomas came closest whilst at the other end Orpington were relying on dangerous set pieces – long throws and corners to regain the lead. Toby Manchip produced a couple of cracking saves to deny Orpington. Patrice Mongelard cleared overhead on the line. Waine Hetherington put his head where it hurt between two Orpington players. We finished the game with a great sense of belief.
In the end a draw was the right result – our second draw this season, also 2-2 and away. We probably felt we had done a bit more to claim a moral victory but there was quality and intent in the Orpington side that deserved respect.
The showers were the best we have experienced this season. Sandwiches and sausages were excellent. I was persuaded to eat the last sausage, after I had finished off the sandwiches. Steve Blanchard appeared in the bar to keep Ian Coles company, just like the old days. Ian Coles took delivery of his Managers’ Player of the Year from last season (with correct use of the apostrophe engraved). The club archives recorded this for Ian – “arguably our, most consistent player, always pitted against the big fast units up front, never has a bad game – good in the changing room, and a huge presence in the bar”. We wish Ian a full recovery from injury. There was time for Mick to make eyes at Orpington Kevin, should he ever be looking for another team. Ian Coles said he’d give Kevin a sausage every morning if he played for us.
Man of the match - Sinisa Gracanin with a beacon of a performance, just edging out a black-booted Michael Hills, and five other players who attracted votes including Toby Manchip.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin