Sunday 18th April 2021
Senior Vets blow 3-0 lead
This was not quite the tonic we needed after last week’s calamity. Yet, in many ways there was a general feeling that our performance was much better this week. Old friends came back, one new friend was disgruntled but the sun was shining and we got to enjoy a pint or three after a game played in excellent spirit.
FOBG Squad: Matt Angelo, Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Danny Mullins, Andy Osborne, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood
Supporters: Jay Hardy, Hannah and Michelle Kleanthous, Claire Mills-Skinner, Kayleigh Richards, Lorna Stewart.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn (absent but instructions provided)
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
Chief Impact Officer: Phil Anthony
The Eltham Town FC facility in Eltham SE9 2TD was packed today. In fact, it was not clear initially if there would be a pitch available for our game. Eventually, the Sanatogen Vets players and entourage appeared to secure a pitch, even if they did not have the full eleven players to start with. Our opponents featured, as we feared, three or four very skilful individuals we had come across before, including allegedly, a former semi-pro from Barnsley – now a year to eighteen months older but still youthful by our metrics.
Sanatogen made the better start despite being a player short, initially. The first telling move of the game was ours though as Waine Hetherington slid a ball behind the Sanatogen defence to put Kypros Michael through. A crisp low finish into the bottom corner gave us a 1-0 lead after ten minutes that did not feel quite deserved but we were not going to complain. Sanatogen threatened but could not find the final ball to unlock our defence ably marshalled by Michael Hills, Ian Coles and Colin Mant. The Sanatogen artists were full of drag-backs, feints, flicks, stepovers etc. but without end product. A lot of sizzle but no steak, you could say. We threatened sporadically, and comically at times. Matt Angelo booted a long clearance which went left rather than right as intended but this led to a comedy moment as Kypros Michael sought to let the ball drop over his shoulder for him to run on to but he had lost his bearings, bamboozled himself, and the ball landed on the back of his head. If Buster Keaton played football that would be his trademark move.
Soon after the half-hour, Kypros was to redeem himself with a vintage strike that fizzed low across the box and went in off the post. 2-0 flattered us a bit. Patrice Mongelard produced a thirty-yarder, after intercepting a Sanatogen pass, which rolled back at least a decade. With a shade more height and power it would have yielded a top corner finish but it was not to be. The mood at half-time was very positive.
Things got even better as the second half uncoiled itself. We earned a free kick after about ten minutes, in Michael Hills territory. Sanatogen had swapped their keeper at half-time and they would have pondered the wisdom of that move as Michael’s shot, not the most ferocious of what he is capable of, was spilled, sheepishly, by the keeper and trickled into the net. The look on Michael’s face almost convinced us that he was embarrassed to claim the goal. We then had a purple patch of ten minutes or so when we spurned numerous chances to increase the gap but we could not quite seize the moments.
Sanatogen had not given up and their increasing mastery of the midfield and superior fitness would surely yield something. Joe Skinner, ex-Sanatogen player was to be reminded by his former team-mates that the score was 3-0 to Farnborough when he came back on. In the same childish spirit Colin Mant pointed out we were 3-0 up when he came off. Yes, you have guessed it – things went downhill for us after that.
One of the Sanatogen artists got two quick goals with smart finishes. Matt Angelo got a hand to the second strike but as Jay Hardy pointed out “Matt needs to firm those wrists up”. More on Matt’s flippy-floppy wrists later. We were under the cosh. A controversial penalty gave Sanatogen the opportunity to level the score. There was much discussion in the post-match analysis about this. Would VAR have given it? Was Sinisa Gracanin’s hand in an unnatural position? Was he a victim of his posture? It was all academic as the penalty was converted by the Sanatogen player who bagged his hat-trick. He was to score a fourth, the winning goal, with five minutes left (after Michael Hills had hobbled off). There was clearly a lot of innate skill there but also a big mouth from someone who perhaps ought to play more against defenders his own age. We had a final sniff in the dying minutes when George Kleanthous wriggled free to shoot from just inside the box. The ersatz Sanatogen keeper pulled off the save, much to the appreciation of his team. That was it.
A draw would have been a fairer result but the reality was that we had failed to manage the game properly from when we went 3-0 up. There were some grumbles about substitutions, kit was tossed about impetuously. Yes, it mattered but not in the grander scheme of things, as nine of us sat outside to enjoy a beer and catch up with each other in the sunshine. We won in the bar, by a big score. Matt Angelo provided the comedy moment as he spilled his pint with a careless limp-wristed waft of his hand. Most of it went on my trousers – “Has he wet himself?”, asked the barmaid with a tattooed thigh. My bacon sandwich was ruined but I waited for what some felt was an inordinate length of time before inhaling it.
The conversation was as always eclectic and wide-ranging as we discussed lip fillers, prostate examinations, diets for colonic health, the benefits of regular movements, how Elvis met his demise, and the break-up of Yugoslavia. It went on for over two hours. Simon Thomas was late for a barbecue by the same length of time but was told that as an actor he ought to be able to act his way of this predicament. Joe Skinner even bought a round but it was unclear if the cashcard which he used had his name on it.
Next week – it is Riverside Wanderers again, but on our flat turf. A repeat of last Sunday’s score could see even the Director of Football sacked.
Man-of-the-Match: George Kleanthous – again. There is a reason for this. He plays for the team and he earns his votes.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous