Sunday 24th February 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough go marching in
Another glorious day (the warmest February Sunday many could remember) as we welcomed Santos Vets to renew an acquaintance that had dropped off our schedule in recent seasons. This time last year we were bracing ourselves for the Beast from the East – today it seemed more a case of the Pet from the West to borrow an expression from tonight’s Countryfile weather report. We were not quite sure what to expect from our opponents. Games against them have been close in the past. We had expected, or rather entertained the possibility of having fifteen players, but in the end only twelve played, with co-manager Mick O’Flynn directing operations in the changing room and on the touchline. Once again, we drew a very decent crowd for a February game.
Before the game Mick O’Flynn moved as fast as he has this season to find us a replacement kit on account of our opponents playing in red. One of my jobs is to ensure this sort of thing does not happen. As you can imagine a few of the lads reminded me of that ‘one job” I had to do. For a brief moment it looked like I had also failed to secure food after the game but news came during the warm up that all was well and that Leanne Catering Solutions were going to deliver. It was not quite the relief of Mafeking, but welcome news nonetheless. Also welcome were the practical arrangements that Gary Willison had curated for the nets and corner flags including an ingenious metal hook to lift the nets off at the end.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Colin Brazier, Sinisa Gracanin, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Jay Hardy.
Substitute: Kypros Michael.
Referee: Nick Kinnear.
Linesman: Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Supporters: Mick and Jean Gearing, Tony Harvey, George Kleanthous, David Orji, Iggy Okafor, Ian Shoebridge, Michael Ugwumba Jr, Ian Coles and family.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
I cannot say we made the brightest of starts. Like dozy bumblebees emerging in spring weather we lacked zip and urgency. Santos looked more purposeful initially but it was not long before we dominated possession and the flow became predominantly towards the Santos goal. Just when the provenance of our first goal was beginning to look uncertain after the first quarter of an hour Michael Hills took matters into his own feet. He made a forceful run to the edge of the Santos box in a triangular move involving Peter Harvey and Gordon Thompson before collecting a layoff from Gordon in a central position and producing a delicate blend of power, precision and finesse with the outside of his right foot to finally beat the Santos keeper. Contrary to erroneous statistical rumours last Sunday this strike was indeed the 100th goal we had scored this season, and what a worthy specimen it was. There was a little less finesse a little later from Michael when in the second phase of play after a Farnborough corner he attempted the technically challenging and potentially painful move known as a testicular trap in the Santos box. As half time approached, we had more joy in the Santos box after Peter Harvey earned and converted a penalty to double our advantage. By then Peter’s groin was showing signs of overwork and it was not clear if he would finish the game. His shooting and movement were not up to his usual high standard even if his hunger for goals was not diminished, and he was still giving his team mates the benefit of his forceful views. Jay Hardy is another vociferous character – more on him later.
The second half was equally directional towards the Santos goal, if not more so. Peter Harvey settled things down further with a smart finish from another Gordon Thompson assist. Despite his undoubted appetite for the game, and the prospect of a hat-trick in front of dad “Beckenbauer” Tony, Peter listened to his groin and took himself off after an hour. This brought back Obi very soon after he had just vacated the pitch for the return of Colin Brazier. Obi was to have an opportunity to unleash one of his trademark free kicks but he must be getting old as the Santos defender in the wall got up after blocking the shot.
Jay Hardy became the focal point of our attack but he also became a frustrated figure as he spurned decent opportunities and failed to earn a penalty from the muscular attentions of the Santos defence. At one point he even tripped himself up as he fell over in an attempt to control a ball that someone had eventually passed to him. He admitted that he had lost his composure because no one was passing to him. He failed to appreciate a Brazilian cameo from Patrice Mongelard in midfield which our perceptive fans cheered. Out on the right Simon Thomas had his own fan club as a number of Santos supporters felt compelled to ask “pretty boy” what hair care products he used. They were sure he was worth it. Jay Hardy could do with something to disguise his ginger roots.
Back to the game – and in particular the Kypros Michael show. Since his insertion on the half-hour for Colin Brazier we had been treated to missed sitters and half-chances, penetrative bustling runs in the box, feeble headers, utter disregard for better-placed team mates and vicious left foot thunderbolts that stung the keeper’s hands. Finally, midfield maestro Sinisa Gracanin set Kypros free to run in on goal and lash a scorching shot into the net. We were not done – Gordon Thompson slid in from close range to crown a Jay Hardy cutback for our fifth goal and that was it. Simon Thomas had a decent sniff at the end from close range (and I do not mean his shampoo) but the Santos keeper was once again in the right place.
In the end, the score was a fair reflection of the game. Our first clean sheet in twelve matches, since 4 November, was deserved. The Santos keeper made a number of saves that would have made a heavier defeat harsh. Santos competed in most areas but did not trouble our goal as much as they no doubt would have wished. The game was played in excellent spirit and we will look to arrange a second game against them next season.
The cheese and Branston pickle, ham and tuna mayonnaise bread rolls, mini sausage rolls and pasties went down a treat as we basked in the sunshine and got a glimpse of the Jay Hardy on tour in Rotterdam experience with cod Dutch accent and herbal relaxant.
Man of the match – Gordon Thompson with his customary haul of fantasy football points from key contributions, assists and goals.
Man of the match: Gordon Thompson