Sunday 29th August 2021
By Patrice Mongelard
Paphos Express back in service
On an overcast and slightly muggy morning we welcomed Erith Vets to christen our new all-red kit. Three players dropped out from last week and this made room for the return of Giles Foister and Kypros Michael and for debutant Andy Ashe. Patrice Mongelard was sitting this one out to rest a sore left knee but was there to make copious notes, raising expectations, in Simon Thomas’ words, of “an accurate report, for once”. More on Simon later.
Our Golden Boot from last season, Kypros Michael, embraced his trophy presented to him with great feeling and respect in the dressing room, and was refreshed from a break in Cyprus where he looked like he had managed to lay off the Turkish Delight.
Erith had signalled that they were struggling for players but to their credit mustered enough bodies for this very long-standing fixture. We reminded ourselves that last season we had beaten them convincingly at home, but lost the away fixture.
FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Andy Ashe, Ian Coles, Giles Foister, Tom Girling, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson.
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood
Referee: Paul Parsons
Supporters: Hannah and Michelle Kleanthous + Cecily and Ed, Danny and Ethan Mullins, Mick O’Flynn Kayleigh Richards and Ethel.
Manager: George Kleanthous
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
Chief Impact Officer: Phil Anthony
We scored very early, in the third or fourth minute after Michael Hills had gone up for a corner swung in by Gordon Thompson. In Michael’s words he should have headed it but the ball hit his foot and came off the underside of the bar to drop behind the line, despite the close attentions of the very young Erith keeper. I have to admit that we were not able to build on this promising start and Erith deserve credit for not letting us. The next half hour was quite even, Erith rallied and our own game got sloppy and disjointed, tempers got frayed. The most convincing Farnborough display at that point was Phil Anthony’s as linesman. Simon Thomas tried a few fancy backheels (the Ronaldo re-signing had gone to his head). Jay Hardy was spitting feathers – everything was winding him up, the grass, the referee, his teammates – so much so that the referee paused the game to have words with Jay and Simon Thomas (after Jay had threatened to re-direct Simon’s acting career towards radio) and to award a free kick to Erith. You might surmise that this was all because Jay had missed his pre-match herbal relaxant. I could not possibly comment.
In the midst of this malaise, Erith had equalised on the half hour with a smart finish after the ball was tickled round the corner for their most dangerous player to steer low into our net beyond the reach of Tom Girling who had until then been quick off his line to snuff out any danger from balls threaded behind our back four. Soon after, Simon Thomas missed what the neutral would call a sitter – prompting the touchline comment from Danny Mullins that his lad Ethan would have scored that. That is stretching it a bit, perhaps, but you get the idea.
Yet, we were able to finish the half as we had started it. The last five minutes or so saw us restore our lead. Waine Hetherington lofted a sublime ball from the centre circle, for Jay Hardy to run on to. Jay outpaced his marker and was able to steer the ball low beyond the onrushing teenage keeper who had dashed off his line to make an interception that never came. The ball rolled against the base of the post and into the net, leaving in its wake a coming together with Jay, interfering with a minor you could say, that left the keeper a bit sore but thankfully he was able to continue.
There was time left before the half-time whistle for more temperamental displays as a third Farnborough goal was chalked off for off-side. Peter Harvey argued that he had crossed the ball back behind him and Jay Hardy had slid in to convert from close range. An Erith off-side flag was upheld by referee Paul Parsons – cue for some fruity exchanges involving Peter Harvey, Jay Hardy (again) and the referee. The proximity of the half-time whistle helped.
The second half brought the insertion of Kypros Michael and Andy Ashe as well as Giles Foister. Peter Harvey left to go to the Spurs game (in what Gary Willison thought were Watford colours). I heard it said that we played better once Peter left – the figures don’t lie, but the introduction of fresh legs certainly helped. It did not feel that way immediately after the re-start when Kypros Michael missed a sitter from a yard out. He was just working on his stats. Thankfully, we did not have to wait long to increase our lead – within five minutes Gordon Thompson had glided into the box to meet an Andy Ashe cutback with a crisp diagonal finish low into the bottom corner. Kypros Michael added our fourth goal two minutes later after a through ball from Jay Hardy.
At the other end – Giles Foister produced a tackle of little finesse, from behind, to bundle an Erith forward to the ground. This left referee Paul Parsons with an easy, and uncontested, decision. However, for the second Sunday running Tom Girling saved a penalty as he palmed the shot onto the bar and a legend was being created.
The last half hour was clearly ours. We added three more goals and Kypros Michael alone missed another four. Kypros bagged our fifth after the young Erith keeper mis-hit a kick that was meant for their right winger but it never got there as Kypros intercepted the ball and moved in to lash the ball from close range. There was the option of squaring the ball to an unmarked Jay Hardy but clearly Golden Boots do not over-share in such situations. Five minutes later, Kypros did square the ball for Jay Hardy and we had our sixth. More trademark Kypros misses followed, at least two one-on-ones, shots that the keeper did well to save but with ten minutes of the game left Kypros was not to be denied his hat-trick as he finished from close range. There was time for a comedy moment as Kypros ran on to a lofted through ball only for the ball to hit him on the back of the head and rebound behind him. By then he, and we, could laugh about it and there was time for another fluffed scoring chance in the 88th minute. In the end it was the right result. I am quite sure that Erith will bounce back and the return match at their place on 26th September will be a tougher affair (like last season).
This home game saw the return of post-match food as a variety of crusty bread rolls with assorted fillings, and mini sausage rolls and meat pasties were washed down. There was even a rather witty comment from Colin Mant as Sinisa Gracanin passed him his plate of food, to the effect that that was “the best pass you made today”. A bit like Simon Thomas telling me I had my best game for Farnborough today Such is the quality of the banter but seriously Sinisa was his usual silky and technical self today with nutmegs, outside of the foot ankle controls and he took the kit home. There were many other good performances for the new unbeaten Manager to appreciate. We dedicate this win to our teammate Colin Brazier, 63 today.
Man-of-the-Match: Jay Hardy – despite his tantrums, who gets a bottle of Gripe water for next Sunday.
Man of the match: Jay Hardy