Sunday 1st December 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough snatch draw from jaws of victory, just like in the good old days
On a cold, dry and crisp day most players would, like Prince Andrew, find it hard to sweat except Phil “Sniper” Anthony who has overactive glands. With the new management team having lasted a tad longer than Leroy Rosenior, Mick O’Flynn sauntered back out of retirement in the adjacent road to restore the emanations from his homo footballus brain, and the velvet touch of the Blarney Stone, to our Sunday mornings. Our games against Orpington are rarely dull affairs and today was no exception, with the appearance of Toby Manchip in goal providing added ambience.
FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey, Simon Harvey, Michael Hills, Louis Hussey, Toby Manchip, Joe Skinner, Peter Sofoluke, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson, Bram Wouters.
Supporters: Steve Blanchard, Ian Lyons, Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Kayleigh Richards, Dave Salako.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
The pitch at the Beckenham Sports Club in Foxgrove Road (BR3 5AR) is our favourite surface, arguably, and the repository of many memories. The clubhouse is not without considerable charm and we know we can always expect a tough assignment against Orpington. To the quality of the experience today was added an excellent display from a firm and fair referee. There was even a retro band rehearsing in the clubhouse to mark Mick O’Flynn’s restoration.
We surprised ourselves with the quality of our display in the first half hour. The passing was short, assured and the system felt right. Even the reshuffling of players was felicitous. Orpington could not penetrate our box and it felt like it would be only a matter of time before we would breach their lines. On the quarter hour Peter Harvey was taken roughly from behind in the box and there was no dispute about the award of a penalty. Toby Manchip crafted a comedy moment by appearing to stride forward to take the spot kick but wild horses would not have kept Peter Harvey from the job. A classy finish in the top corner ensued and it was with the run of play. Barely five minutes later our King of Assists Gordon Thompson put a peach of a cross onto Jay Hardy’s forehead at the far post and our ginger fox in the box doubled our lead. At that point it felt like it would be our day. A volley on the spin with his back to goal that fizzed narrowly wide from Peter Harvey brought shouts of “Class, Class” from the crowd, well from Patrice Mongelard, who spent the game encouraging his team mates in his unique way.
Of course, football has a habit of reversing fortunes in a flash. As Toby Manchip himself observed in the bar afterwards – the first half-hour had been among the best half-hour he had seen from a Farnborough Vets team and then he got involved. I think he was being a tad harsh on himself. Changes on the half-hour might have affected our rhythm but there was always enough quality in this Orpington side to cause us problems. They hit the post with a low drive from the edge of the box and began to cause problems with what seemed like their weapon of choice – the long throw-in hurled into our box from clearings in the trees, after “worse encroachment than in Rhodesia”. The dendrophobe taking these long throws kept asking himself to watch the trees, which appeared to cramp his style. I would not get him a chainsaw for Christmas. Orpington corners and free kicks mounted and the inevitable happened about ten minutes from half-time. We failed to clear a free kick and hesitancy afflicted both Michael Hills and Toby Manchip at a crucial moment as the ball was headed across our goal. Toby flapped like a seal and Orpington halved the deficit with a close-range header. That they did not draw level from the last corner of the half owed much to the presence of Michael Hills who made a point-blank goal-saving headed clearance on the line.
There was much to ponder at half-time and Mick O’Flynn’s legendary tactical acumen was being severely tested. The second half was barely a couple of minutes old when Mick asked me to make a note as Peter Sofoluke, making a very encouraging debut, nearly scored following what Mick called a tactical switch. The problem was that Orpington too had made a tactical switch and put on a new keeper who proved to be more than useful and could kick like a mule.
Our passing game was to some extent restored but we never really created clear-cut opportunities. A couple of times it looked like Gordon Thompson would glide into the box with the ball glued to his boot but he overran the ball. As we pressed forward there was always the danger of Orpington danger man Kevin ”Lord of the Rings” punishing us on the break. In reality both defences were coping well and both midfields were putting in quite a shift. An Orpington free kick was tipped onto the bar by Toby Manchip with about five minutes left and we thought we had weathered the storm. But it was not to be. With barely a minute left an Orpington corner was allowed to travel a long way to reach an Orpington head in the middle of ten Farnborough players and that was it. It was not quite daylight robbery but Orpington were happier than we were with the point. It was a fair result in the end. We failed to capitalise when we were on top and for all our passing and cohesive play, we could not find the cutting edge as often as we would have liked. The opposition had something to do with that, of course.
The mood in the clubhouse was very good, with excellent hospitality from our hosts, and a universal feelgood factor to have Mick O’Flynn back in our midst, seemingly in good health. I had not realised that watching football could make Dave Salako so hungry. I dread to think what would have happened if had been there for the full ninety minutes. An assortment of sandwiches, cocktail sausages and a what looked like an apple and cinnamon traybake got the Salako seal of approval. The quality of the post-match analysis and conversation was enhanced by the presence of Toby Manchip, I think, wryly observing that his two games for the Senior Vets had cost him nearly “a ton”. I think too that Joe Skinner got over me crumpling his dry-cleaned olive-green shirt which he had left behind in the changing room. I was only thinking, foolishly perhaps, that someone might nick the shirt. Even Simon Thomas forgave me for asking him to focus on the game and to quiff the ball properly from the touchline. There was petulance in his youthful rejoinder but I will rise above it. I know actors can be over-sensitive about criticism.
Man of the Match – Lou Hussey, health and poise restored from last week, with nine out of fifteen votes cast, holding the midfield together with the efficiency of a silent assassin.
Man of the match: Louis Hussey