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Match Report

Sunday 25th April 2021

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Senior Vets
0 - 6
Riverside Wanderers

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Senior Vets blown away by Riverside, again

First, a clarification pertaining to last week’s report. Mrs M asked, not unreasonably, how I knew about the barmaid’s tattooed thigh. Simon Thomas is the one with the professional eye for bar staff, but I could not drop him in it. So, I explained it was a hot day and the barmaid had a micro-skirt. Crucially, Mrs M accepted my defence that I never saw the whole tattoo. I never saw the whole of today’s game either, more on that later. 


We had played Riverside at their place only a fortnight ago and lost 7-0. It was clearly too much to expect we could win today but you could say the figures do not lie and we were marginally better today.  For our first home game since 6 December, we had the socially-distanced use of one changing room but no showers.  The shelter was welcome as there was a cold gusty breeze that induced shivers and made a mockery of the spring sunshine. There was the usual kit roulette – we had switched to our blue kit, thinking we would have enough but in the end, we were one shirt short for a squad of sixteen, as the team photo curated by Colin Brazier captured for posterity will show. It was good to see the return of Mick “Gravesen” O’Flynn after a long lay-off. 


FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Brett Cox, Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Andy Osborne, James Rutter, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas.


Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.


Supporters: Peter Harvey, Claire Mills-Skinner, Lorna Stewart, Matt, and Pringle the cockapoo.


Referee:  Paul Parsons.


Director of Football:  Mick O’Flynn.


Chief Football Correspondent:  Patrice Mongelard.


Chief Impact Officer:  Phil Anthony.


Match Photographer:  Colin Brazier.


Riverside hit the bar within two minutes of the start, from a corner.  Five minutes later Brett Cox, in our goal, pulled off the first of several stupendous saves by palming the ball onto the underside of the bar and retaining the presence of mind to swat it away while prone on the ground. We thought we were holding our own for the first quarter of an hour but then Riverside scored three quick goals. The first came after we failed to clear the ball out of defence and the ball fell nicely to a Riverside forward two yards out in a central position in the box. The second was a stupendous volley on the run by a 35-year-old who was very chuffed with himself, against a back four that collectively had clocked two hundred and thirty-four years between them. The third was a trademark run from midfield into space on the edge of our box crowned by a well-executed shot.  At that point I was not the only one thinking that we should do something about our fixtures and leave younger teams to our younger Vets.  A counter view is that we need to be challenged and we certainly were in our two games against Riverside. 


I cannot recall any clear opportunities for us in that opening half hour. We had our share of the ball but could not find a cutting edge. We could not get behind them down the flanks, partly as our wide players had to defend so much. We were up against a very well-organised collective with runners all over the place who could outnumber us anywhere on the pitch and who took care of the ball. I cannot blame the pitch for our performance. Both teams played on it and it affected one team more than the other; but it was one of those windswept, bone-hard pitches where the ball runs away from you. 


We kept the score to just the three goals until half-time. We had the wind in our favour in the second half and for a while we held our own. Ten minutes in, a fourth Riverside goal followed after a free kick from the left wind eluded about three Farnborough heads to travel to the far post where a Riverside player nodded the ball and Brett Cox into the net. 


By then it was clear from the team-sheet that I would not be coming back on and I had seen enough. As I walked back to the changing room, I saw a fifth Riverside goal go in. After finding the door locked, I trudged back to the pitch to watch the rest of the game.  A sixth Riverside goal had been registered; yet the last quarter of an hour saw some good passing moves from Farnborough and a few shots on goal.  Kypros Michael hit the post with a left foot shot and produced an even better acrobatic volley that the Riverside keeper did very well to keep out.  There may well have been other Farnborough moments – earlier but I missed them, so apologies to my team-mates.  Riverside could have grown the score even further but a combination of Brett Cox and, for once, less than clinical finishing on their part, saved us. 


The best part of the day was the post-match drinks in the sunshine despite the gusty icy wind which made Steve Blanchard’s hair go wild to the extent that he out-quiffed Simon Thomas. We won handsomely in the bar with six or seven of us, augmented by others including Andy Osborne’s partner, Peter Harvey, the referee “Play On” Paul Parsons (who had his usual no-nonsense game), Gary Willison, the Eddlestons, Danny and Miss Saines.  A bit of impromptu football saw barmaid Leanne produce the best Farnborough shot of the day.   


Simon bought a drink for granddad much to the amusement of the bar staff. Colin Brazier and Joe Skinner discussed alice bands as a male fashion accessory (and Jay Hardy was not even there).  Surely, alice band sales have gone through the roof in lockdown. There was an exchange that went like this: “What time do you want to go home?”  “I don’t”.  I found out that Joe Skinner was willing to sort out our fixtures for next season if I would or could not do it.  Best to put that to a vote I think but credit to the lad for being willing.  By the end, the social therapy offered by our football experience, win or lose, had reasserted itself over the sting of defeat.  I very much appreciated the efforts of several individuals to cheer me up with some of our 2017 tour memories, among others, and whatever bruised feelings I had, vanished like a snowflake in the spring sunshine.  “So, I suppose that means you are playing next week”, opined Mrs M, when I gave her a synopsis. 


Man-of-the-Match:  not GK, but Brett Cox, who kept the score respectable, who had a good kick on him and who according to one player who will remain nameless, was not “out with the fairies”.

Man of the match: Brett Cox