Sunday 3rd April 2022
By George Kleanthous
Hard fought win as Farnborough edge out tough opponents
History told us that we set off to John Roan playing fields in Kidbrooke knowing that we had a tough test ahead. Matches against today’s opponents are usually a very close affair with games only being decided by no more than a goal or two and additionally there have been a couple of draws in recent years as well. Today would be no different.
We headed into the weekend with 14 players in the squad but by Sunday morning this number was down to 12 as we lost Peter Harvey and Landy Sakala late on which meant a few adjustments to the pre match preparations.
FOBG Squad: Tom Girling, Aaron McWilliams, Ben McWilliams, Simon Thomas, Giles Foister, Chisa Mkala, George Kleanthous, Sinisa Gracanin, Dave Morgan, Jay Hardy, Kypros Michael SUBS: Andy Ashe
Referee: Yes, there was one.
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.
Manager: George Kleanthous.
Interim Chief Football Correspondent: George Kleanthous.
It was another fine day for football and both teams contributed evenly in what was a well-matched close encounter.
In the first half, it would be fair to say that Avery Hill looked the sharper side, and they probably had the majority of possession which led to them creating a few half chances but nothing clear cut and despite their superiority I think we were dealing with the threat fairly comfortably. The centre back pairing of Sinisa Gracanin and Giles Foister looked solid and they were ably backed up by our fullbacks Simon Thomas and Ben McWilliams.
This was one of those games where you sometimes have to be patient and take your chances when they come. We didn’t create much in the first half-hour and we were playing mostly on the break but there were glimpses of some very neat football where we were able to get the ball down and play and as the half wore on, we began to come into the game more and were now beginning to have more influence on proceedings. It appeared that we had weathered the early storm, and this was giving us the confidence to keep possession better and begin to have Avery Hill on their heels for the first time. We could smell a goal and a goal is exactly what we got after a very fluid passage of play.
There is nothing better for a manager than to see his strikers scoring goals, except maybe for a manager seeing his strikers not only scoring goals but also setting up others to score goals. For our opening goal, Jay Hardy did most of the hard work to create an opportunity and he unselfishly then pulled the ball back across the area for Kypros Michael to be in the right position to finish with a simple side foot into an empty net. As often is the case, Jay not only scores lots of goals but provides many assists as well. A simplistic goal crafted from some very nice team play in the build up which included several good passes and a fair degree of skill to open up a well organised Avery Hill defence.
Half-time arrived and we went into the break holding a slender but hard fought 1-0 lead.
The manner in which we doubled our lead which came early in the second half was not dissimilar to how we notched our first. This time it was Kyps who was able to manufacture an opportunity with some very smart play and although he had sight of goal, he has in the past selected to go for glory and blast a shot from an acute angle which more often than not ends up in row “Oak tree in the car park” he opted for the better odds of sliding the ball across to an unmarked Jay who had the simple task of finishing off a chance from short range to put us up 2-0. Both strikers complementing each other very well and long may that continue. I have been preaching for long enough the importance of making the right decisions at the right time and today both Kyps and Jay were spot on and it led to two goals, one each.
After about an hour, a substitution was made, and Andy Ashe replaced Giles and we reshuffled our back four with Ben moving into a centre back pairing alongside Sini with Aaron dropping back into left back. Giles admitted he was beginning to feel the effects of his lingering injury, so the timing of the change was welcomed by him. Hopefully we have preserved Giles well enough for it not to affect his ongoing availability. It was a welcome sight to see Andy return to the side after quite a few months removed from his previous appearance for us.
On the introduction of a very muscular, well-built and physically strong individual coming on for Avery Hill (he would have looked just as much at home on a rugby pitch as a football pitch) we suddenly found ourselves having to contend with a constant threat and his strength and ability to be very direct with his running were beginning to cause us problems. He was making an immediate impact on the game, and this gave Avery Hill some belief that they could still get something from the game despite being a couple of goals down and they began to turn the screws and re-establish their early dominance. As mentioned previously, they have always been a good side so we shouldn’t have been surprised that they would launch a comeback.
Avery Hill did finally pull a goal back to set up a tense finish…..
The only surprise was the manner in which they got themselves back in the game. After all their huffing and puffing it was only a mistake which handed them the opportunity and gave them the impetus to have belief that they could get something from the game. The catalyst to them pushing extremely hard for an equaliser was created not by them but by us. When I say “us”, I mean Tom. Tom Girling. Our goalkeeper. I know football is a team game and we are all collectively responsible for any goal we either score or concede but there are exceptions to every rule and no provision can be accounted for with what happens when a goalkeeper decides to have an out of body experience, completely leaves his senses and passes the ball uncontested, directly to the opposing forward standing unmarked six yards out, in front of goal and realising that all his Christmases had come at once and scores the easiest goal they will get for many years. In Tom’s defence….no wait, there is no defence, let’s move on quickly. We already know that keepers are a strange breed by design anyway. This just compounds that theory.
On reflection, Tom gave us a glimpse of his “human” side and so we can finally rest easy in the knowledge that he is actually capable of making the odd blunder after all. The one he made today was spectacular and so the saves late on were the least he could do!! He was probably saving his own blushes for a change rather than covering the team’s inefficiencies.
From that moment on the result could have gone either way, however, the result was ultimately once again decided by the actions of our goalkeeper. This is Tom's first season with Farnborough and his contribution has been nothing short of stellar, with him often being the match saviour. He has been almost flawless this season and has performed so consistently one might have begun to wonder if he was superhuman and more akin to a machine than a mere mortal. Today, Tom was once again to play a pivotal role, a role in which he became saviour by performing heroics late on in the game to produce two magnificent saves; one point blank blasted from only a few yards out which he somehow managed to get to and push around the post to preserve Farnborough’s slender 2-1 lead.
Tongue firmly in cheek: good job that he did because the saving of the game was completely unnecessary for the first 80 or so minutes as Farnborough had done an excellent job of containing Avery Hill and had barely looked overly threatened.
There was one very late chance for Avery Hill which nearly came right on the final whistle when the ball dropped to their forward who controlled the ball well but his low drive went agonisingly close but from their perspective whistling just the wrong side of the post. It wasn’t to be, so we ran out winners 2-1.
There were a few very strong performances today, but the voting was mostly between two players and it came down to a single vote majority in favour of Jay Hardy just nicking it from Sinisa Gracanin. Once again, Jay takes the accolade for another top notch bustling performance with skill and steel in equal measure.
Man of the match: Jay Hardy