Sunday 27th February 2022
By George Kleanthous
Comfortable win but game ends prematurely on sour note
We were at home again and thankfully the rain let up enough to ensure we had a fixture to play. We had 11 players going into the weekend, but we were able to draft in some late help, so I have to give a mention of gratitude to James Rutter and Simon Thomas who helped me procure two excellent players for the day in the shape of Sean Blackwell and Neil Pearce who was making an appearance for the first time in a long time. This meant we managed to muster a squad of 13 which as it turned out was seemingly way more than we needed as our opposition could only get 10 players themselves. This would turn out to be an issue as the game unfolded.
FOBG Squad: Tom Girling (GK), Colin Mant, Peter Harvey, Giles Foister, Waine Hetherington, Dave Morgan, George Kleanthous, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Simon Thomas, Kypros Michael, SUBS: Neil Pearce, Sean Blackwell.
Referee: Paul Parsons. Another solid performance from the man in the middle and handled the game extremely well, albeit there may have been a hint of Paul’s softer side unveiled. Some of his offside calls in the second half may have been “mercy calls” in a peacekeeping effort to keep the score down in what was fast becoming an uncomfortable rout.
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.
Manager: George Kleanthous.
Interim Chief Football Correspondent: George Kleanthous.
The day didn’t start well for our opposition as they arrived with only 10 players after having another 10 players unavailable and the word from their manager was that the 10 not available were all probably as capable as the 10 he had left. Nonetheless, we had to play what was in front of us and although we were asked if one of our subs could even up the numbers and play 11 vs 11, I felt that because we had one of our players carrying a significant knock and not sure how long he would last and one of our subs making his first match appearance in a long time so wanted to be eased in gently, we had to decline and this would turn out to be a catalyst to some disappointing discussion from our opposition later in the game.
The game therefore started 11 vs 10 but despite this, Lads of the Village were more than holding their own against us and were defending stoutly and making it difficult for us to find much room in behind them. Although they didn’t create much in an attacking sense, they were comfortably ensuring that our opportunities were limited. The first real chance of the game fell inevitably to Kypros Michael but although he did well to jink past a defender and take it round the keeper, his final touch let him down and he skewed the ball high and wide from maybe 6 or 7 yards out.
A significant fact was that as we had an extra man, we were unsurprisingly having the majority of possession and were controlling the game and it did seem like just a matter of time before we opened the scoring. After a few half chances, the manner in which the first goal did finally come was fairly fortunate. It has been said that Waine Hetherington has a lovely left foot and his passing and shooting with this left foot is usually accurate and effective. On the other hand, his right leg really has been no more than a balancing tool to prevent himself from toppling over. It was a surprise then that Waine dribbled a fairly pedestrian paced shot towards goal with his right foot but it somehow managed to take a slight deflection and found its way into the net. A rare occurrence but one that we were grateful to witness. Lads of the Village did carve out one chance for themselves but Tom Girling came out bravely and smothered the shot well but he did get a heavy whack in the face which fortunately did not rearrange his facial features too much more than maybe a bit of soreness.
This first goal seemed to settle us even more and we didn’t have to wait long to double our lead. Jay Hardy is probably our most relaxed finisher of the three forwards we played with today (we changed formation to a 3-4-3 and had Jay, Peter and Kyps all playing as forwards) and it was no surprise that when the ball broke back out to him from a clearance he nonchalantly lobbed the ball back towards goal from a significant distance over the head of the defenders and keeper and into the goal. We had doubled our lead and went into half-time 2-0 up.
What happened next is hard to fathom and it must be reported that it was probably the least enjoyable 25 minutes of football I have been involved in for many years. The fighting spirit that Lads of the Village showed so well in the first half seemed to disappear completely after we scored an early second half goal to go 3-0 up. Kyps got his feet right this time and opened his account for the day. We were suddenly presented with a completely different challenge and that was one whereby our opposition seemed to switch off in footballing terms and we were beginning to find it very easy to get through them. We scored another two goals in quick succession and the score had escalated to 5-0. Kyps managed to net both of these therefore completing his hat-trick, the fourth time this season he has achieved this.
Between us scoring the 5th and 6th goal, which came courtesy of Sean Blackwell on his first game for the Senior Vets, the tone of the game had changed considerably. Every tackle seemed to have an edge to it and Peter Harvey was clattered into several times by some robust defending and as I watched more and more tackles like this coming in, I began to have more concerns for the welfare of our players than actually continuing the game. Additionally, there appeared to be a significant increase in the volume of displeasure coming from both our opponents on the pitch and their supporters watching on from the side-line. It was established that this stemmed from us not giving them a player at the start of the match and one of their contingent was heard saying we only did that because we wanted to thrash them. That comment is both unfair and completely untrue. We didn’t plan for them to turn up with only 10 men and nor did we plan for them to get a couple of injuries which left them with only 8 men. My primary concern will always be doing what is right for our players and unfortunately this did not match what our opponents expected. We had by then offered them players but they rejected our offer. The only thing we look forward to each Sunday is for every game to be played in good spirit and just as importantly be competitive, win lose or draw. Sadly, today turned into a nightmare and beating up on a struggling team is no fun at all. So much so that with 15-20 minutes still left to play, in the best interest of competitive spirit, I asked our opponents to call the game and they gratefully accepted. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it seemed that maybe we should have stepped off the gas and not tried as hard to score as many against a team with less players than us.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the way the game ended, there were a couple of highlight reel comedy moments worth mentioning. Firstly, Giles Foister had a moment were there was a cross-over of sports as I think he forgot he was playing football and decided to try a bit of wrestling. Giles got entangled with one of the opposition and literally slam dunked him to the turf. Referee Paul Parsons was heard muttering that he had seen a move very similar to that in a sumo event he had once witnessed. Not to be outdone, Colin Mant decided to show just how committed he is to defending when he inadvertently slipped over and with the ball on the floor by his head, he decided to risk getting it kicked off by trying to head the ball clear while still on the floor. He missed but the attempt was akin to a salmon attempting to propel itself forward against the tide. An impossible task but an A+ for effort.
A Kypros Michael hat-trick was enough for Kyps to take this week’s accolade
Man of the match: Kypros Michael