Sunday 28th April 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough cling on for narrow win
Two weeks ago, we clawed our way back to earn a well-deserved 3-3 draw against today’s opponents, who will surely have thought they were about to do the same to us. In the end they ran out of time. We had run out of ideas long before the final whistle.
On an overcast and occasionally blustery day, punctuated by a Spitfire flypast, we mustered fourteen players, boosted in particular by the return for the first time this season, of Ian Coles. Another revenant was “Hurty Toe” Thomas. We hoped that the presence of attacking talent Jay Hardy, Kypros Michael, and Gordon Thompson, all absent two weeks ago, would tip the balance in our favour. So it did but only just. Non-playing co-manager Patrice Mongelard watched proceedings, making notes, as usual.
Phil Anthony, Michael Hills, Colin Mant;
Waine Hetherington, Sinisa Gracanin, Danny Mullins, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson;
Jay hardy, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Ian Coles, Peter Harvey, Ahmed Lafia.
Referee: Chris Coulbourn.
Supporters: Tony Harvey, Ian Shoebridge.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
I cannot claim that we made the best of starts. There was a moment about five minutes into the game which encapsulated perfectly our disarray. Kypros Michael had got behind his marker and seemingly had a clear run on goal. Words to describe what happened next fail me. I cannot say it was entirely unexpected, but surely there was a supernatural agency involved. After two gratuitous step overs Kypros nutmegged himself twice, left the ball behind and was tackled viciously by two blades of over-grown grass, bundled himself to the ground and was held there by embarrassment and the mocking jeers of his team mates.
On a more serious note we had trouble moving the ball and struggled to get out of our half. Passes were going astray, we kept giving the ball away in unwise areas and seemed intent on playing ourselves into trouble. Only the calm assurance of Rob Faulkner in goal held a glimmer of hope. It was no surprise when Riverside took the lead after ten minutes. It was not one of their forwards but their left back with a low centre of gravity, given the freedom of Farnborough, invited by hand-delivered embossed vellum, to advance fifty yards unchallenged, walk through our non-existent defence and lash the ball low into our net (for only his third goal this season). I am not sure that the Riverside keeper had touched the ball by then.
Yet in a flash, Gordon Thompson dragged us back into the game barely two minutes later. His Messi-esque steps and sinuous run had bewitched his markers, twice, as he cut in from the left to work a shooting opportunity with his right foot. In one graceful and fluid movement he had set himself free and his eye for goal and deadly right foot did the rest. His powerful shot from inside the box could not be kept out. The Riverside keeper still had not touched the ball.
We wrestled a degree of control which, whilst was not absolute, yielded two more goals. Kypros Michael gave us the lead with a surprise of a right foot shot that bamboozled the Riverside keeper. I am not sure we knew Kypros had that in his locker. It was most welcome. Not long afterwards Sinisa Gracanin arrowed a corner to the far post where it was met by a stooping Kypros Michael to double our advantage. Riverside must have missed the highlights of our match against Sanatogen last Sunday – when we scored an identical goal. This was the high point of our dominance – changes made on the half-hour with the introduction of Peter Harvey, Ahmed Lafia and Ian Coles (and the withdrawal of Jay Hardy, Simon Thomas and Phil Anthony) gave our opponents more to worry about.
Once again for a second consecutive Sunday the crowd demanded a Kypros Michael hat-trick – he had until the 60th minute to do this before leaving early on the Greek Orthodox Church Easter, to go and set up the barbecue at home (no other FOBG Senior Vets at the feast but I have been promised a photo of the fatted calf). We thought the moment had arrived when a corner swung in by Peter Harvey reached his head five minutes before half-time but Kypros was overcome by a tortoise reflex just then, and he retracted his head on the goal line.
We kept trying and the early exchanges in the second half brought some good scoring opportunities for Kypros. One of these in particular drew a stunning point blank save from the Riverside keeper that deserved a point at least. Once these early chances came and went, Riverside began to ask questions of their own. The symptoms that had afflicted us very early in the game returned. The final round of substitutions with Jay Hardy, Simon Thomas and Phil Anthony returning on the hour for the retreating Kypros Michael, Gordon Thompson and Colin Mant had emboldened Riverside further. It was not long before they narrowed the gap with a penalty conceded by Michael Hills for a tackle that was just as late as it was superfluous. A powerful left foot strike went in off the base of the post with Rob Faulkner going the right way. Whether the team was going the right way was in doubt. The feeling that this would not be our day grew after one of those misses that Harry Redknapp claimed his Mrs would score. Jay Hardy had squared the ball inside the box for Danny Mullins in splendid isolation, with not a single Riverside player within two yards. Danny did not take a touch to steady himself and instead shanked the ball high above the bar from ten feet with the Riverside keeper embalmed on his line.
Yet, as if my miracle we held on. But Riverside had given us quite a scare. We thought they would tire in the second half but instead we were the ones that faded. We could have paid the price for all those missed chances and in the end our relief was great as the final whistle blew.
The post-match bread rolls were excellent and some were shared with the Sunday team.
As we sat there in the clubhouse, discussing the art of the trombone, and watching the London Marathon runners finish their race I naively hoped to catch a glimpse of Ian Lyons. A little sadder and wiser, I was informed that Lionel was running the Beckenham half Marathon, or possibly the Chislehurst fun run, or was it the Beckenham Harris Primary Academy egg and spoon race.
Phil Anthony was reunited with clothes he had left at the club several weeks ago. None of the charity shops in the Farnborough and Orpington would take the stuff. The bad news is that the clothes are coming on tour to Rotterdam. Talking of the tour it was great to have Ian Coles back, a huge presence in the bar, sharing some hilarious memories of our previous European adventures (even if the python-like toilet habits and meaningful looks of some individuals should have remained secret). Another secret is the identity of the owner of the bottle Pantene Pro-V Smooth & Sleek conditioner (just what a quiff needs if you ask me) left in the changing room.
Man of the match – Sinisa Gracanin, at times an oasis of Croatian calm and class in midfield chaos.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin