Sunday 2nd December 2018
By Mark Harrington
Venue: HSBC Sport ground, Lennard Road Beckenham.
Team: Gary Rosslee, Mark Harrington, Jon Gasson (Capt), Neil Pearce, Frank Pearce, Dean Murphy, Justin Blundell, Damian Preston, Paul Tanton, Matt Kerby, Simon Davies, Dean Wyatt, Jason Miller, Matti Wright, Jez Mooney.
This fixture is probably the one we look forward to the most, not just because of the excellent facilities but the HSBC team are a fair bunch of lads.
The deluge of rain may have put many a game off however, the pitch is so well kept that it was never in doubt and the pre-match chat centred on two things, the fact that if you cannot play football on that surface then we might as well pack up but more importantly would Marcus see the game through? Through is probably the wrong word to use as any hint of a return to playing was scuppered by a dodgy chicken dhansak from Rajdoot the night before. Any stretching would have left a nasty stain on an otherwise friendly match, it was played in the right spirit. My own pant warmer from the same establishment caused no such problems and some could argue only helped my performance. The Japanese flag was flying high in the after showers.
For the second week we had an official with a badge so I guess we can say a qualified ref but in truth, it wasn’t a match that required the highest level of officiating, if there ever is such a thing.
Marcus’s team talk was brief and to the point and the excellent facilities at HSBC are not so as we speak and the hardest worker in this fixture will no doubt be the cleaner who is in for a real treat.
Marcus wanted us to be patient, pass the ball, use the width and keep our discipline. For once we followed instructions and for the first 45 minutes, we looked like Ajax despite not scoring. Ajax will be in heavy demand this afternoon! We had a number of chances but a mixture of good defending and sharp goalkeeping meant we were scoreless at half-time. Gary was rarely troubled and some of our defenders even had time to venture forward on the odd occasion. Personally I followed the manager's instructions and remained disciplined. Why they are all suddenly calling me Farnborough’s Cafu I have no idea. It was also lost on my strike partner Matt Kerby who again had a fine game in being a complete nuisance to the opposition's back four.
We had a good squad to choose from, which is pleasing and at half-time we were able to make four changes. The bench was strong with Jason, Matti, Jez and Rhino to come on for Justin, Tant, Matt and Frank. All four were straight into the action and within five minutes we had taken the lead. Jason had an excellent 45 minutes and his cross was nodded in at the far post by fellow sub Dean Wyatt.
The game was still tight and our opposition tried to find an equaliser but the back three held firm. Jon, Neil and Matti repelled each attack and I occasionally dropped back to help out and on one occasion, having witnessed Neil’s dummy from the week before, decided to equally mug off a forward. We discussed in the bar which was the finer “Lollipop” and I’d probably go with Neil’s as he’s not renowned for skill!
A super ball across the box by, I think by Jason, saw Kerbs score a super first time shot into the bottom right had corner of the goal. Keeper no chance and a well deserved goal for all his efforts.
Dean Murphy forced a fine save from the keeper from 25 yards that looked in all the way but our oppo keeper managed to divert around the post. The resulting corner came to nothing and our hosts decided to attack but the alert Matti Wright intercepted and played a peach of a ball through to Jez Mooney who rounded the keeper to roll in number three. A good return from injury for Jez. Nice to see you back!
Frank had a great game in deputising for the absent Joe in an unfamiliar left back role and after winning the ball with a fine tackle and running 40 yards his legs couldn’t believe he could run that far and so his hamstring pulled the escape cord and he was lame and his game was up. Hopefully only a minor pull and he will be back within two weeks.
Justin and Dean controlled the midfield, Si was everywhere and unselfish in dropping from his forward position to bolster the midfield when needed. Tant and Damien were great outlets on either wing and Jon and Neil are forming a great partnership at the heart of the defence.
We could have scored more goals and Jason and Jez caused all sorts of problems from our right side. Jason and myself were even compared by Marcus to Beckham and Gary Neville in their pomp. I preferred the Cafu resemblance and if we are all honest, we all love a Brazilian.
Gary was rarely troubled but again when called upon, swept up when the ball was beyond the back line. It has been great to have him back in the WhatsApp group from his self-imposed ban providing much needed morale boosting material.
So a fine team performance of patience, passing and discipline. We kept a clean sheet which is more than Mrs Allen can say this afternoon!
Comedy moment of the match has to go to Tant, who in trying to control a cross-field ball managed to slip and go down in instalments. ‘He fell over’ was the chant but on the dance floor would have resembled one of those old fashioned break dancers. As usual Tant took it in good spirits and appealed for a foul.
As well as the facilities the grub is always top notch. This time out it resembled a visit to Nando’s as we were treated to spicy chicken drumsticks and chips. As far as we are aware, Marcus made it back to the Village without a stain on his erm.....character.
Charlton Rangers away next week. A good week to you all.
Man of the match: Cafu, AKA Mark Harrington