Sunday 1st September 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Artful dodgers from Erith pull off daylight robbery at Farnborough
Farnborough spirits were high before this game. The 3-1 derby win against Orpington last Sunday, the return of old team mates, sunny dry weather with a cooling breeze, borehole-irrigated pitch in good nick, a big squad, old tight-fitting kit handed down from the Sunday team, and quality banter (specimen - “Jay, the 90s called, they want their haircut back”), a team photo by FOBG official photographer Colin Brazier (bizarrely clad in Bodiam chic high vis jacket), and to cap it all the best omen was we now had a Deano in our team and with a tattoo. All of this generated a palpable feel good factor. Things went downhill after that.
FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Rob Faulkner, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey, Simon Harvey, Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous, Ian Lyons, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Joe Skinner, Dean Statham and Gordon Thompson.
Referee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Supporters: Colin Brazier, Tony Harvey, Ian Shoebridge, Nigel Johnstone, Neil Connelly, a couple of random dog walkers.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
It is not often that a visiting team to Farnborough apologise for claiming all the points. To their credit our opponents did today, but we should also recognise their resilience and spirit. It is no exaggeration to say that we could have won this game 10-2. But instead we lost 2-1. Such is football and once against the old truth was manifest - if one team repeatedly does not take its chances when they come, then more often than not they get punished.
The pattern of play was established very early on. We dominated possession, had mastery of the midfield, won numerous corners, got behind the Erith defence and set about testing their keeper. Our shooting left a bit to be desired, however, and in Kypros Michael’s case a lot. He will not enjoy being reminded (I do this with a heavy heart of course but only to help him come to terms with it) of the comedy moment when his right foot nudged the ball away from his shooting left foot, leaving him to swish fresh air, three yards out with the goal at his mercy. Many others had a go – Kypros again (motto: if you don’t shoot you can’t miss), Jay Hardy, Gordon Thompson, Waine Hetherington, Sinisa Gracanin but somehow the final effort, pass or shot did not add up. Of course, the Erith keeper and defence did not make it easy for us. Why would they? However, any neutral watching the game would have expected Farnborough to score first. I heard that club photographer Colin Brazier had set his camera up behind the Erith goal.
It was 0-0 when we made five changes on the half-hour, just saying. Pete Harvey was taken roughly from behind barely a minute after coming on and went on to have a frustrating and fractious hour. With thoughts of half-time forming, Erith made one incursion into our box as we failed to deal with a throw-in, the ball was angled behind our defence, drawing Dean Statham off his line and the clever Erith forward nipped in to guide the ball into an empty net. It was a bitter moment but we thought there was plenty of time to put things right.
Mick O’Flynn’s half-time talk accentuated the positive, with the tactical insight that we needed to speed up the transition phase. It sounded knowledgeable, technical and fluent, usual O’Flynn spiel.
The pattern of the first half continued with a sharper sense of frustration as we got closer to scoring, this time rattling the woodwork repeatedly. I counted five occasions when we hit the posts in that half – the two Harveys and Kypros Michael coming closest. At least three one on ones were thwarted by the Erith keeper. Several corners led to pin ball moments in the Erith box. Steve Blanchard and Ian Lyons had good headers that threatened. At times it looked like we would walk the ball into the net. But there was always a last defender on the line, or the Erith keeper who was immense. We threw the kitchen sink and the bath tub at Erith with Mick O’Flynn shuffling the pack furiously to get as many Farnborough attacking players bearing down on the Erith goal.
The last ten minutes or so were furious and frantic. We were undone by a quick Erith counter which saw a scuffed shot roll into the net beyond Dean Statham’s outstretched hand. Erith joy was unconfined, understandably – smash and grab successfully executed. To make it more interesting with five minutes left we got one back – and even here the football Gods were grudging – a Jay Hardy shot beat the Erith keeper, only to come off the base of the post against the leg of an Erith defender and trickle over the line. In all conscience despite his puppy eyes and boy band ginger fringe the dubious goals committee could not award the goal to Jay Hardy and OG is now joint top scorer. Jay started to give me a hard luck story about how he was robbed of a goal last week (and instead Peter Harvey got to take a penalty). I must have looked like I cared. I have no doubt that Jay will start scoring again, and soon. Form is temporary but class is permanent as football fans know.
We had a couple more sniffs at the Erith goal including a goal bound Joe Skinner header that was cleared off the line. In the end we ran out of time and Erith had ended our short-lived unbeaten run. It felt like daylight robbery but to be honest with you our finishing was so poor that police would suspect an inside job.
This week we had bread rolls, mini pasties and sausage rolls from Leanne which went down well, even proving too much of a temptation for a couple of hungry lads from a visiting team who played our Sunday XI. I do not think we would have minded sharing the little we had, but we did mind that they did not ask first.
The handful of us left at the bitter end were cheered up by the appearance of Sarah Viner bearing a tray of hot sausages and accompanying rolls and condiments. By happy coincidence one of the sausages had turned vegan and was claimed by Mick O’Flynn. Naturally, I had two whilst the group was distracted by the discomfiture of a picnic table unable to cope with the weight of Ian Lyons’ intellect.
Man of the Match – Simon Harvey, who caught dad Tony’s eye in midfield, and who nearly scored, like half our team.
Man of the match: Simon Harvey