Sunday 31st March 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough too generous on Mother’s Day
Most of us went to bed probably thinking we did not mind losing an hour’s sleep a long as we could have yesterday’s sunshine for this game. Instead of going forward an hour it felt like we had gone back two seasons. It did not rain during the game but there was a general dampness that seeped into the soul and the wind was blowing in straight from the set of Game of Thrones beyond the Wall. Still no one was late. Our numbers dwindled overnight to thirteen with co-manager Mick O’Flynn too unwell to travel. In fact, Colin Mant had to travel to Beckenham before the game, to collect the kit from Mick. He was greeted by the sight of Mick in striped pyjamas and he confided later that he felt like one of the liberators at Dachau. The day was to prove more eventful for Colin. Mother’s Day is always tricky for squad numbers but we were able to draft in three extra bodies from our other Vets team, in the shapes of Mark Harrington, Jon Gasson and Dean Murphy. It looked like Baltic too had reached out - their goalkeeper was a different class and era, his name was either Dorian Gray or he was just emerging from the onset of puberty.
Colin Mant, Jon Gasson, Patrice Mongelard;
Mark Harrington, Simon Harvey, Sinisa Gracanin, Dean Murphy, Obi Ugwumba;
Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony and Gary Mason.
Referee; Nick Kinnear (who waived his match fee).
Supporters: Tony Harvey, Simon and Daisy Thomas.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
The game was barely five minutes old when Farnborough heads were left shaking ruefully. Colin Mant had cut out a through ball but was left facing his own goal and the obvious and sensible thing to do was to roll the ball back to Rob Faulkner. So, Colin put the right amount of pace and the correct angle to favour Rob’s best (right) foot – but just at the moment when Rob decided to dash off his line. The result was not quite a Steve Blanchard classic but still suicidal. Rob could not readjust his position in time and the ball nestled into the bottom corner. It felt harsh. We had had more of the initial play and had begun to test the youthful Baltic keeper. This pattern continued until the next Baltic goal – a quick break, the nippiest forward on show lashing a twenty-yarder beyond the outstretched arms of our keeper. A great strike.
We then had one of those moments that will live long in the memory. If 2-0 felt a tad harsh, worse was to follow. We signalled to the referee that we were going to make two substitutions. Patrice Mongelard and Obi Ugwumba made their way off the pitch whilst Phil Anthony and Gary Mason were in the process of coming on. It is not clear what happened but the referee seemed not have realised what was occurring. Farnborough players all stopped whilst Baltic players carried on and the ball was punted goalward from thirty-five yards. Rob Faulkner was well off his line, taking a drink from a bottle and the ball sailed into the net. Our protestations came to no avail but what was more galling was that Baltic accepted the goal, rather unsportingly. I had not expected that from them as I made clear to them at half-time. I was disappointed that a man of Des Lindsay’s sporting pedigree (and possibly a man of God too) felt that was OK. As Jay Hardy said to him later “You let yourself down there” but I would be very surprised if Des had trouble sleeping tonight.
It did not take long for Gary to signal that all was not well with his groin. But there was a silver lining. Five minutes before the break Dean Murphy curated a twenty-five-yard free kick into the top corner which amazingly the Baltic keeper got a hand to, diverting the ball against the post, only for the ball to fall invitingly to Jay Hardy to poke home from close range.
Our spirits rose even higher when Jay Hardy poached another goal from close range after excellent approach play from Dean Murphy and Peter Harvey, Surely, it was only a matter of time before we would draw level. The neutral would have thought so certainly as chances kept coming for Farnborough. Jay Hardy will feel he missed the best of them as he controlled a ball, looked like he could have walked it into the net only to flash his shot wide from two yards out. Dean Murphy will wonder for days how the exquisite crosses he put on Jon Gasson’s and Peter Harvey’s heads at the far post could not be glanced home. Obi Ugwumba crashed a long range shot against the crossbar. The Baltic keeper saved smartly from Dean Murphy as he applied a deft flick to a cross from the right.
Baltic were not out of it. On more than one occasion we did not apply the right amount of challenge and bite in the midfield (Gary Mason had limped off with Obi returning on the hour) and they had runners to get behind us. Sinisa Gracanin and Simon Harvey were channelling their efforts down the flanks and Dean Murphy, doing the work of two players in central midfield could not be everywhere. Moreover, Baltic had more tall players than we did and set pieces could we know pose problems for us. And so it proved with five minutes left after Baltic forced a corner. We could not clear the first ball. A Baltic header came off the bar and rebounded on the wrong side for us and Baltic had the numbers and the physical presence in the box to restore their two goal advantage. In the midst of this disappointment there was a moment of dark humour as Colin Mant, running the line, called for Patrice Mongelard to be taken off (the two players had swapped places for the final ten minutes or so).
Baltic did to us what we did to them at their place in January. This was game twenty-nine for us this season and it is all taking a toll. We were missing a few regulars from injury, and for other reasons and there is a sense we are limping towards the line (Jay Hardy certainly was by the end of today and he said he ought really to have rested today to allow himself time to recover from the muscular attentions he received last Sunday). It is Avery Hill next week, another testing physical challenge in prospect. There is no prospect, I think, of Simon “Hurty Toe” Thomas being back for this one, even though according to the banter he played his best game for us today and some even queried why he could not take the kit given his low Dot Cotton score this season.
The number of players who were able to stay behind, from both teams, was lower than usual and as a consequence it looked like we had over-catered, despite the presence of Des Lindsay.in the Baltic ranks. The Sunday Reserves, the cleaning ladies and our caterer Leanne all helped out with the crusty rolls (tuna/cheese/ham), mini pasties and sausage rolls. We even had an appearance from Toby Manchip, whose sustenance took liquid form. He was there to hear Peter Harvey confide that he was rather fond of Mother’s Day, and that it was really Father’s Day that worried him as he gets cards from people he does not know on that day. Not a bad piece of Pete Harvey bingo that.
After the game it was revealed that Phil (Borat) Anthony had left his clothes behind in the changing room. What did he wear on the way home you might well ask (but you do not really want to know)? I wish to apologise here and now to any mothers in the Beckenham environs who might have glimpsed something disturbing, distressing or distasteful from the top of a bus between the hours of 13:00 and 14:00 today.
Man of the match today – Mummy’s boy today was Dean Murphy for a tireless performance, full of running, guile and neat touches – and yet more evidence that we badly need a Deano in our team.
Man of the match: Dean Murphy