Sunday 25th November 2018
By Mark Harrington
Venue: Farleigh Rovers Football Club, Harrow Road, Warlingham, CR6 9EX
Team: Gary Rosslee, Mark Harrington, Jon Gasson, Neil Pearce, Joe Champ, Justin Blundell, Dean Murphy, Damian Preston, Paul Tanton, Matt Kerby, Barry Grainger, Jamie Titford, Rob Mullen, Kevin Analuwa , Robin Moody.
Well what a week it has been.....Brexit agreed, Strictly scoreboard went all disaster darling and old Dilly Ding Dilly Dong back managing in the Premier League. Lots of similarities between Ranieri and our own boss. Grey hair, tinkers, no one understands a word he says and his team scores three goals.
Sadly this was not a match dominated by the managers or the teams but a rather strange man in black. No not the grim reaper but the referee who clearly thought the day was all about him. I have never seen the 6 second rule or a yellow card in vets football or a 10 minute prep talk before a match from a ref. Why he didn’t do it, if it was required at all, on the pitch instead of in the changing rooms was beyond all of us but even stranger that he told us he would enforce the 6 second rule on the keeper and he would over rule any linesman decisions. He was true to his word but more on that later.
I would prefer to concentrate on the fabulous effort the boys put in than moan about a referee but for a qualified ref, which we do not hardly ever get, to be this bad and I say that for both teams was simply unacceptable. The sad part was he was rushing off afterwards to ref another game and ruin someone else’s afternoon.
Anyway, Mrs H says that having started an outfield game for the first time in two years my blood pressure is probably high “so let it go and let the sad little fella enjoy his moment of joy”. She is of course correct and I don’t usually have a go at refs as anyone who has run a game knows it is not easy. Nevertheless you can make it easier for yourself. So after three paragraphs I’ll turn my attention to the game.
It was a bit of a shock to see Grainger and Harrington in the starting 11 and the first aid kit was being readied even in the warm up. We thought that as the ground was locked and the home team couldn’t open it, we would have little problem in them trying to open up our defence. Eventually we got in and then found ourselves two nil down despite being the better team. Again we missed chances and were caught by two quick breaks.
We still continued to play good football on a boggy playing surface but our reward came when Barry Grainger’s shot put us back in the game and but for a good save by the oppo keeper it could have been all square at the break.
A number of changes made with new signing Kevin Analuma (had to rely on Jon Gasson for the spelling - sorry Kev !) and Jamie Titford, Robin Moody and Rob Mullen entering the action. Kevin looks a great signing with many tackles made and covered a lot of ground. Jamie played for us previously and with a bit of luck could have been on the scoresheet. The changes hardly had time to warm up before a through ball and in truth, a good lob put the hosts 3-1 up. We didn’t panic and soon after pulled a goal back from a corner that the keeper spilled and Capt Gasson tapped in from two yards. The oppo screamed for a foul but the keeper simply let it slip.
Justin, Damien and myself returned for the final 20 minutes and it was Damo’s run into the box that the left back simply couldn’t resist having a dig at and down he went for the obvious penalty. Their linesman protested and in truth the ref got this wrong, not for the pen but there was a foul leading up to the attack on their player but again he proved how utterly useless he was but at least it went in our favour although, the hosts were hard done by.
Matt Kerby struck the pen hard and low to the keeper's left to pull us deservedly level. We were in the ascendancy and chances came and went and with two minutes remaining, our friend dispelled any remaining doubts of his lack of ability by completely ignoring the linesman’s flag, not just for the first ball but also the second and the striker finished, as you would do if you are clean through. The flag stayed up, the linesman explained the situation and we thought all would be well but oh no, the Warlingham village idiot gave the goal. Even our hosts were embarrassed. There was no time to respond and the ref left the field to go and ruin someone else’s afternoon.
There were moments of football gold to smile about, in the second half Gary wrapped himself around a post in making a save and he spent so much time on the pole I was ready with my quid for the glass. He now wants to be called Candy. Neil’s shimmy and dummy fooled the chasing striker and we had to open the gate for him and apparently he is still going on his way to Gatwick as we speak. The keeper moaning that an offside decision wasn’t but only for the whole of his team to tell him to shut it.
So lots of positives on the day eg..style of play, Barry and me starting and playing a long part of the game, the performance of new boy Kevin and the excellent game by Man of the Match Joe Champ. One surging run saw him pull the ball onto his left foot and strike a 25 yarder that smacked the inside of the post and sadly run along the line and out of harm's way. An absolute cracker of an effort and if it had gone in, would be our goal of the season. Anyway it wasn’t to be.
Notable performances from not only Joe but Kevin, Damien, Jon Gasson, Justin and Neil. I tested the knee and took on Frank’s role as the Downham Destroyer in tackles although, I’m not from Downham and I got the ball so I cannot really take his crown. Matt Kerby also had a fine game as our front man, he chased everything and dropped deep to win the ball on many occasions and also held it up well allowing others to roam forward.
If we continue to play like today we will no doubt win many more than we lose, especially if we never have that ref again.......Oh get over it !
Away to HSBC next week lads and I for one cannot wait.
A super week to you all.
Man of the match: Joe Champ