Sunday 7th April 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Both teams emerge with credit from a very good game
Games against Avery Hill are invariably tight affairs and today was no exception. Once again, we were able to draft in some extra bodies from our other Vets team. We would have struggled for numbers otherwise given the heavy toll from injuries with several players missing including ‘Ginger’ Hardy, ‘Messi’ Thompson and ‘Hurty Toe’ Thomas (forty-five goals between them) to name but three. In fact, it was reported that only yesterday at the Millwall v WBA match Mick O;Flynn had been sitting two rows behind Millwall’s Murray Wallace in the crowd and had offered him the opportunity to embellish his CV by turning out for Farnborough Vets. All I can say is that when Murray reads this report he will regret missing this game.
The weather was milder than we expected on a slightly misty, still but overcast morning. It remained dry throughout but the playing surface seemed to have retained moisture from the morning dew and was in fact a pleasure to play on, with both teams striving to play a measured passing game and to take care of the ball.
Michael Hills, Jon Gasson, Patrice Mongelard;
Waine Hetherington, Sinisa Gracanin, Chisa Mkala, Dean Murphy, Damien Preston;
Peter Harvey, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Mark Harrington, Obi Ugwumba.
Supporters: Jay Hardy, Steve and Sarah Hills, Mick O’Flynn, Iggy Okafor, David Orji, Michael Ugwumba Jr (linesman).
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Avery Hill took the lead about ten minutes into the game. Patrice Mongelard was not in the right place to intercept a deep cross whipped in from the right after we had lost the ball. The Avery Hill forward had made enough room and ran in to meet the ball to place a firm and accurate header beyond Rob Faulkner. Our response though was immediate. It took us about two minutes to draw level with a smartly taken low shot from the edge of the box by Peter Harvey who had carried the ball past two defenders and produced a sliding shot that skimmed the surface and had enough pace and placement to beat the otherwise excellent Avery Hill keeper. We noticed that he was quick off his line and adept at shutting down the angles and was almost unbeatable in one on ones – twice Kypros Michael had forced close range saves out of him. Chisa Mkala found the same barrier when he slipped in behind the Avery Hill defence and penetrated their box.
On the half-hour Patrice Mongelard, Dean Murphy and Jon Gasson made way for Phil Anthony, Obi Ugwumba and Mark Harrington. We had a scare soon after when Peter Harvey went down after colliding with the onrushing Avery Hill keeper. At the time Peter was making a darting run through the heart of the Avery Hill defence and was clipped from behind knocking him off balance which meant his feet were off the ground when the keeper connected with him.
We feared we would miss Jon Gasson’s towering presence against what is a taller than average team but with Michael Hills in an imperious mood we survived until half-time when we were able to enjoy oranges supplied by Mark Harrington. This made up for the absence of water bottles (our usual water carrier Colin Mant being unable to join us today).
We remained positive as the general feeling was that we had worked the Avery Hill keeper harder than they had exercised Rob Faulkner. We carried on working the Avery Hill keeper but could not finish the half-chances we were creating. Avery Hill remained dangerous on the break. They had arguably the quickest forward on the pitch as we found out to our cost a little later. Changes were made on the hour with Michael Hills, Waine Hetherington and Damien Preston making way for the return of Jon Gasson, Patrice Mongelard and Dean Murphy. We switched to a back four and almost immediately fell behind. The Avery Hill express managed to shrug off successive tackles from Mark Harrington and Jon Gasson in the centre of our box before lashing the ball high into our net despite Rob’s best efforts. With the quality that Avery Hill had this was always a risk but it felt harsh as it could be said to be against the run of play. For the second time in the game we had to dig deep.
There followed a catalogue of chances, half-chances and misses. Crosses, corners and cut backs rained into the Avery Hill box but lacked the finish we craved. Peter Harvey came close but could not dig the ball out from under his feet twice to produce a clean shot in a crowded box. Chisa Mkala leapt like an impala in the box to produce a close range header that the Avery Hill keeper palmed away. Dean Murphy and Obi Ugwumba had shots that caught the eye but the blue Avery Hill line held.
With ten minutes or so left Mick O’Flynn’s legendary tactical acumen decided to manifest itself. He changed our shape taking off Phil Anthony and bringing back into midfield the craft and guile of Waine Hetherington. A neatly worked free kick involving Peter Harvey and a wily run by Waine almost paid dividends almost immediately.
With less than five minutes left Chisa Mkala produced another bustling run to enter the box from the right. He had muscled his way past the twin towers of the Avery Hill central defence, his touch had taken the ball clean through and as he shaped to angle his body with the ball now progressing towards the goal he was taken roughly from behind. This would have been a stonewall red card in a normal game but all we had was a free kick on the edge of the box in a central position. Mick O’Flynn called for Obi Ugwumba to have it. In front of son Michael Jr and two other supporters he had brought with him, Obi delivered a trademark thunderbolt that had the added sheen of optimum height and destination. The Avery Hill keeper was beaten. There was not much time left after the restart.
Both teams came off the pitch satisfied with their performances and with the feeling that a draw was the right result. It was also notable that the game was played in excellent spirit and there was no bad tackle, or flash of malice that anyone could remember.
A pussy walked into the bar. No this is not the opening line of a Peter Harvey joke. Jay Hardy got all excited but all pussy wanted to do was sniff the kit bags. There was no food that we could share with the cat as the lady that normally does the food at that ground was unavailable. We did not really mind. There were several other Vets teams there that we had played this season and there was plenty of chat to be had and big Steve behind the bar kept the refreshments coming.
Man of the match today – Peter Harvey for a performance full of character, endeavour and desire who let his cultured left foot do more of the talking although we found it hard to shut him up in the changing room afterwards.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey