Sunday 6th September 2020
Senior Vets come through a stiff examination
Schools went back only this week and it felt a tad early to encounter today’s opponents for what we knew would be a severe test. We had shaded our first encounter with them on 2 February, 3-2, and upon reading the report of that match – a classic, even if I say so myself, as it was the first of our Brexit era, I thought today’s affair promised to be no less challenging. More so, since we were reduced to thirteen players and were bereft of Mick O’Flynn, our self-anointed tactical genius and Director of Football.
The pitch at the Footscray Rugby Club in SE9 was looking very good. The mild sunshine and light breeze made for excellent playing conditions. We did not really miss changing rooms on a day like this.
FOBG Squad: Matt Angelo, Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Andy Osborne, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson and Ricky Young.
Boot Room: Phil Anthony
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood
Supporter: Claire Skinner
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
We knew within moments of the start that we were in for quite a game. Greenwich moved the ball with confidence, taking good care of it with short passes and triangulation. The flow of the game was towards our goal and our wide midfielders Gordon Thompson and Joe Skinner had to put in quite a shift to support the back three of Michael Hills, Colin Mant and Patrice Mongelard. Up front, Ricky Young and Kypros Michael were tussling with tall, mobile defenders who were comfortable on the ball. The midfield was not for the faint-hearted with Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington and George Kleanthous on the deck often and in the wars. Clear scoring chances were not abundant for either side early doors.
We broke the deadlock just after the quarter hour. Peter Harvey swung in a corner of great quality and purpose and Ricky Young was in the right place at the right time to head the ball in, his fourth goal in as many games. Clearly this is golden boot form, and travelling to and from games in the aura of a former Golden Boot, seems to be rubbing off on Ricky (although Manty is too modest to say so). Our lead, which the Greenwich lens will have seen as a little against the run of play, did not last long. In attempting to play the ball out of our defence some five minutes later we lost our way and conceded possession in a dangerous area to one of the more than able Greenwich midfielders who unleashed a fierce shot from twenty-five yards which surprised Matt Angelo in goal with a postage stamp finish.
The introduction of Andy Osborne and Simon Thomas on the half-hour gave us useful height and more of a threat on the right. Either team could have gone in at half-time with a slender lead. Michael Hills had a header saved on the line from one of our corners. At the other end Michael Hills, again, nearly sliced a clearance into his own net and only a diving and scrambling Matt Angelo avoided yet another Hills OG.
The second half was packed with incident. After having a good shout for a penalty turned down, to Simon Thomas’ chagrin, we needed two fingertip saves from Matt Angelo to keep us in it. We carried a threat ourselves. Kypros Michael threatened to get behind the Greenwich defence more than once and when he did the final ball was not quite optimal. Midway through the half, Kypros was bundled to the ground by defensive clumsiness rather than malice in a central position just outside the box. Peter Harvey and Michael Hills clustered around the ball and eventually it was the right foot of Michael Hills that edged the computations. The shot was perfect, with the right amount of power and dip, creating an arc too good for the Greenwich keeper and we had restored our lead.
The rest of the half was not quite the Alamo but Greenwich will feel aggrieved they did not get back into the game. Matt Angelo was busy. In fending off a goalbound header he took a knock and was deemed to be concussed by the referee – "how could he tell", I hear you wonder – and Matt was asked to leave the pitch. Peter Harvey took the gloves until Matt re-appeared for the last ten minutes. Joe Skinner had resumed in defence and brought useful muscularity to the proceedings as did Andy Osborne for set pieces. We needed to be resilient.
In the last quarter of an hour we had at least two gilt-edged chances to extend our lead and ease our nerves. Simon Thomas with a clever run across the box, had unshackled himself from his marker, spun and set up a shooting opportunity about four yards out that would just not curl in at the last. Kypros Michael had an even better opportunity following a characteristic Gordon Thompson through ball but he could only roll the ball inches wide of the base of the post from inside the six-yard box.
It was a relief to hear the final whistle, I will not lie.
This was a hard game, bruising at times, but played in excellent spirit. There was the usual banter – inevitable with competitors like Peter Harvey and Michael Hills on the pitch. There was even the sight of several of our own players arguing with each other because they felt that a very obvious pass to them was overlooked by a stupid and selfish team mate. I suppose it shows they care but on reflection, I know that they regret whatever was said in the heat of the moment.
The referee had a good game. It was not easy out there. He kept things moving, was a bit tantric with the whistle but was even-whistled. He handled the Matt Angelo situation very professionally I thought. He had two notable exchanges with us. One was when he told Simon Thomas, perceptively: “You do not tell me how to referee the game and I will not tell you how to play football”. After the game he came round to say goodbye and apologised for not doing the “social thing” because his wife would kill him. I suggested a couple of my players might save her the trouble. To his credit he took that moment of flippancy very well.
Four of us made it to the bar upstairs for a swift pint where our hosts arranged for a chip butty to come our way. There was time for Simon Thomas to show off his Fitbit – it captures the movements of his wrists apparently.
Man of the match: by a long chalk George Kleanthous, our Duracell.Bunny, with votes going to another five players, and a mention in dispatches for Mad Bunny Matt Angelo.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous