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Match Report

Sunday 22nd September 2019


West Farleigh Vets
0 - 2
Senior Vets
Peter Harvey 2

By Colin Mant

Not a Bridge too Far(leigh) for the Senior Vets few

Similarly, like Dulwich-itis and Reigate-itis, while these ailments won't appear on the World Health Organisation's list of rare illnesses, Farleigh-itis is another of those periodic squad reducing mysteries. Not to say that some avoid travelling to these grounds, but it is indeed a coincidence that our squad is generally reduced. Today we travelled with 12. The few were to be rewarded, although the day started with a mini crisis. Our keeper Matt Angelo realised that he lacked an essential bit of kit for a goalkeeper…gloves. However, Guild players are a resourceful bunch and Matt reserved a pair online at Argos, nipping in when they opened at 10am to collect his order. Phil's solution of gardening gloves and gaffer tape was thankfully not needed. Mick opted for a 4-4-2 formation, mainly dictated by the players at our disposal.

Matt 'Argos' Angelo;

Phil 'DFS' Antony, Colin 'Wall's Sausages' Mant, Michael 'Fosters' (Oz) Daniels, Joe 'Haribo' Skinner;

Gordon 'Mattesons Ham' Thompson, Dan 'Waitrose' Herbert, George 'Stanley Tools' Kleanthous, Simon 'Claire's Accessories' Thomas;

Pete 'Lovehoney' Harvey and Jay 'Victoria's Secret' Hardy.

Sub and Director of football: Mick 'Pasta Express' O'Flynn.

Playing at West Farleigh is a challenge. They have a Deano (ably backed by some mobile and skilful players and they had recruited a youthful big unit to play alongside Deano). Not only do you have to compete against a difficult and fluid team, the pitch is one that you must factor into the play too. We opted to kick 'up' the hill, with the wind against us, the pitch bone dry as the anticipated rain had failed to materialise. If this isn't challenge enough, a sign on one of the gates warned that "dogs worrying the sheep would be shot". Pat would have feared for some of our players if we'd put in a mutt of a performance.

We kicked off and settled into a good rhythm with some nice patterns of play. Pete and Jay were buzzing around making their presence felt and Simon's mate, Dan, was easy on the eye in possession. We forced a few corners although we were reduced to shots from distance. Gordon went lame, forcing a reshape, with Mick dropping into the right-back slot and Joe shifted to the left midfield. With Farleigh looking to get Deano into the channels, Oz had to be alert and cleared his lines on a few occasions and Matt was playing the sweeper-keeper role well. Our pressure going forward paid off and on about thirty minutes Mick put the ball into Pete's feet, a shimmy past the defender bought him the space he required, and he coolly lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper to put us into a well-deserved lead.

Farleigh noticeably upped their tempo and began to get forward in numbers, arguably having their best spell of the game for them. They won a few corners and began to get in behind our lines, either being thwarted by the defence, the pitch, an unseen sniper (no, not Phil) or Matt, who made some superb saves. On one occasion a Farleigh midfielder burst through and went down seemingly under no pressure, but Matt and I had heard the pop of his knee. Obviously, we wish the chap a speedy recovery.

As for Matt's saves, one defied belief as, with Deano and another Farleigh player lurking, Matt managed to save, flick it off Deano's swinging boot, juggle it again while prone, before smothering the ball. To have conceded before half-time may have caused jitters, but a key moment for us came.

Again, Matt thwarted Deano twice from close range, but the ball looped invitingly for their diminutive fox in the box to have the seemingly simple task to nod the ball past a horizontal Matt. Deano projected his head towards the ball two yards out but headed fresh air as I slung my rotund frame to hook the ball off his forehead. Without blowing smoke up my own chuff, sometimes in football there are moments that turn games, possibly win them, although everyone defended with purpose in those moments when it looked we might be breached.

We made it through to half-time with our lead intact, although a disagreement between Pete and Simon threatened to disturb the scene of tranquillity, perhaps even scaring the sheep. As we were warned, those scaring the sheep would be shot. Nevertheless, it was soon forgotten, and we agreed we needed to keep doing what we were doing. Oz had soldiered through to half-time nursing his groin but had put in a great shift, so some minor reshuffling was needed.

The second half, which I'm sure West Farleigh would agree, was largely one-way traffic. With the wind and slope against them now, it's fair to say we played the conditions they now faced much better. We pressed high and they were unable to get the ball forward with any purpose and, when they did, we snuffed out their attacks. Matt had one or two saves to make from memory, but certainly none in the last twenty minutes, and nothing like the workload that the Farleigh keeper had to face. Creditably he pulled off some very good saves and prevented us increasing our lead. Inevitably though the pressure told and Jay broke through the Farleigh defence, unselfishly squaring the ball for Pete to roll into an empty net with around twenty minutes to go.

Farleigh's spirits seemed to sap after this and we could have put some gloss on the scoreline with a couple of opportunities that went begging, but the two goals were enough to give us the win, with the bonus of a clean sheet.

This was by no means an easy win and the workrate of everyone should be commended. We played good football but did the dirty stuff when we needed and there were some lion-hearted performances and, if I may single someone out, (and I will seeing as I'm doing the match report!) our performance was epitomised by Mr Kleanthous in midfield. With each footstep on the hard surface jarring his ankle, he pressed, harried, tracked, passed and broke down their play, never giving up, even in pain. It is this grit that is required to win sometimes, that determination, and today we had it in abundance. Farleigh were gracious in defeat and the handshakes were heartfelt. They'll have better days, but the day belonged to the FOBG few.

Off we went to the Good Intent to do the usual post-match analysis, with about eight of us huddling into the snug. Families with children on nearby tables, perhaps due to the Tourette's Twins (Matt and Jay) hastily left. As Simon sat in 'Bullshit Corner' (a place Pat has sat in on previous trips) I suggested he might write the report. We took part in the scratch-card but one of the opposition won this, picking Millwall, a small crumb of comfort. Mick may have chosen them, had he been there, but he had to listen to concerned residents talking about rubbish collections (no, not the team I watch on Saturdays). Talk was that Matt had secured a deal with Argos to sponsor his kit, although reports that Jacamo would provide him with pants may or may not be something I've completely made up. Plates of food were delivered to tables, but sadly not to ours. I was last to leave, finishing off my pint, having seen off the oppo.

Man of the Match:  Dan Herbert took the plaudits today with a robust debut in midfield. Two good feet, skills, vision and by a mile increasing the Senior Vets' tattoo count.

Man of the match: Dan Herbert