Sunday 29th May 2022
By George Kleanthous
They think it's all over...it is now!
We travelled back to John Roan Playing Fields in Kidbrooke for a second successive week and we were looking forward to closing out the season on a high. Once again, the pitch was in immaculate condition and allowed for a good competitive game of football to take place. We may have been disappointed with the result, but the performance was much better than last week and we played a lot of good football today. A win would have capped off the season nicely, but we can take away a good performance and are already looking forward to next season.
FOBG Squad: Tom Girling, Ben McWilliams, Sinisa Gracanin, Simon Thomas, Dave Morgan, Aaron McWilliams, George Kleanthous, Waine Hetherington, Danny Mullins, Peter Harvey, Kypros Michael.
Subs: Brett Chandler.
Referee: Jim Grimley: Steady, fair and consistent. Attributes that Jim shows every time he has taken charge of our games.
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.
Manager: George Kleanthous.
Interim Chief Football Correspondent: George Kleanthous.
This is the first time we have faced Cudham and after a tight competitive contest, we will endeavour to keep them on our fixture list every year.
The message before the game was similar to last week in that we should go out and enjoy the game and try and play decent football. The fact that it was to be the last game of the season meant that we should give everything and leave it on the pitch as we would have a well-deserved 12 week break before it all starts again.
Things started well and we settled in quickly to a nice rhythm. For the second week running, our opponents seemed to be playing with 3 central midfield players so despite being outnumbered in the middle of the park we seemed to be containing them and this did provide us more space when we were on the ball. We were moving the ball well and a few early moves got us down the wings (especially down the right hand side) and behind the Cudham back line, but Cudham cleared their lines effectively with some calm defending. Our first clear cut chance of the game fell to Kypros Michael and if he was going to catch Jay Hardy for the golden boot he would need to make the most of every opportunity which fell his way. Unfortunately, with Kyps only a few yards out and the goal at his mercy, he somehow managed to skew his shot wide of the right-hand post and the chance was gone. Cudham were a very well organised side and we were going to have to come up with something special to break them down. Regular readers of these match reports are about to encounter a bout of déjà vu.
Step forward Waine Hetherington.
Waine doesn’t get many goals as he tends to sit in the holding midfield role and let others foray forward more often than he does. Waine doesn’t need to get forward if he is going to continue to provide incredible top class strikes like the one he hit today. Last week he scored a brilliant goal from 30 yards out but in comparison, it felt like a dress rehearsal for the main event which was served up in the shape of today's 30-yard thunderbolt that flew into the top corner. It was an absolute scorcher and I’m not sure any keeper in the world would have kept it out. Such was the quality and precision of the strike, not even Courtois with his Champions League heroics against Liverpool would have got to it. After these back-to-back worldies, Waine was heard asking If we could play at John Roan every week as it was clear that this was turning out to be his lucky ground. That won’t be possible, however, I hereby give Waine full consent to score similar goals wherever we play.
There was a moment where I thought I would be reporting on 2 absolute corkers today as Dave Morgan went on a surging run and followed it up by hitting a rasping drive from 30 yards out which had the keeper beaten but alas, it whistled just over the top.
The equaliser came against the run of play and with the first real moment of danger to our goal, caused by a long ball played over the top, we lost concentration and allowed their player to get in behind us and slide the ball across goal to a team mate who had not been tracked back and he had the easy job of tapping the ball home from a yard out.
This seemed to give Cudham some confidence and the game suddenly became much more even. They were now having a bit more success with their forward play and there were a couple of times where some last-ditch defending was necessary to prevent us falling behind. We rode out the mini storm and were then unlucky not to take the lead when a good run by Danny Mullins took him to the edge of the area where he cut in, drove to the by line and with a pinpoint pass picked out an unmarked Peter Harvey at the back post and it seemed that he only needed to make contact to score but he didn’t quite get enough on it and somehow the ball hit the post and the score remained 1-1.
We were to rue that miss as Cudham then went straight up the other end and made us pay by scoring a second. Again, the goal came from a long ball played upfield, we didn’t quite get to grips with clearing the ball and from suddenly being comfortable at 1-0 up we found ourselves going in at the break 1-2 down.
The half-time team talk consisted of reminding the team that we were playing most of the decent football and only some tardy finishing on what looked like fairly straight forward chances was the difference in the score line being in our favour. If we were not making chances, then that would be an issue, but the positive message being reinforced was that we were making them and just needed to convert them.
We needed to get on the front foot and pressure Cudham if we were to get back into the game but as we pressed forward we were likely to leave gaps at the back and Cudham were playing the ball around the pitch nicely and were able to exploit the spaces well. They had some good players getting on the ball and once again with us on our heels and short on players getting back defensively they got behind us and with only Ben McWilliams far enough back to put a challenge in, he couldn’t be in two places at once and so the player crossed the ball to the back post where their attacker controlled the ball well and finished nicely to put them 3-1 up.
It was going to be a tall order to salvage a result from here and Cudham nearly added a fourth when they sprung through again, but this time Tom Girling did well to make a smart save and keep the deficit to only 2 goals.
At the other end we were unlucky not to get a goal back when Brett Chandler put an excellent cross into the box from a free kick and George Kleanthous got across the defenders first but flicked his header just wide of the post. Brett had come on at half-time and had injected some much-needed quality with his passing and delivery and was now offering a real threat to Cudham. He definitely made a positive contribution after coming on. A big thank you to Brett for helping us out at short notice.
As the second half wore on George almost scored Farnborough’s second goal when he was positioned on the edge of the area and when the ball broke to him he chipped the ball back over the keeper and a whole raft of players and it looked destined to drop just under the crossbar but somehow a miraculous foot appeared from nowhere about 5 foot high from the ground and tipped the edge of the defender's boot and deflected the ball agonisingly over the crossbar. It was beginning to feel like it might not be our day. This feeling was compounded when George also hit a shot from outside the area, directing the ball to what he thought was an empty goal but straight into the arms of the keeper who seemed to be hiding right by his left hand post. Had the shot been towards the other side or even the centre of the goal it would definitely have gone in.
We lost Peter to what looked like a nasty leg injury after a 50-50 challenge from one of Cudham's centre backs. Peter has always been one of our more committed members of the team when it comes to tackling and he is not one known for shirking out of any challenge and his view was that the player should have been penalised. Unfortunately, the referee saw it differently and adjudged that it was just an unfortunate coming together of 2 committed players trying to win the ball and gave a drop ball to Cudham. This did not please Peter one bit and he continued to remonstrate his displeasure as he hobbled to the side-line. There will always be a difference of opinion on certain events and it’s safe to say that this was definitely one that only the players involved will know what their true intention was going into the tackle. The silver lining in this cloud is that the season is over so there will be plenty of recovery time for Peter to heal and be ready to play in time for the start of next season.
With 4 minutes left we did finally get a second goal to set up a tense finish. Aaron McWilliams got himself into a good position, cut a ball back into the path of Danny Mullins who swung his right foot perfectly to stroke the ball past the keeper. Would we or could we create one last chance and get out of jail? Truth be told, almost all of the last 4 minutes was controlled by Cudham and we gave away 2 or 3 clumsy free kicks to help them whittle away the time. However, with one last attack Aaron did get into Cudham's area where he had half a sight of goal from the edge of the 6-yard box, there were a couple of players screaming for the ball to be played square with the prospect of a tap-in to snatch a draw but Aaron had burst his lungs to get to the position he found himself and he unfortunately ran out of gas and only managed to scuff the ball high and wide. The full-time whistle blew and we had come up just short. Aaron was disappointed that he couldn’t deliver the necessary final ball, however, it was quickly pointed out that we didn’t lose the game on the back of that one missed opportunity, there had been a cumulative series of chances not taken that cost us today and secondly, with the luck we had experienced already during the game, there were no guarantees that even if he had delivered the ball, we would have finished it off.
There were a few players who shared the votes today, but Danny just nicked the majority with 4 votes. He had a solid game and scored a goal to give us a chance of getting a result. He started a lot of good moves for the team today and his strength and direct style of play caused Cudham some real problems. Danny doesn’t play for us every week, but he is one player that we wish was a regular for us as every time he plays he is a real asset and always gives a positive contribution.
Man of the match: Danny Mullins
End of Season Summary:
We lost a few experienced players and club legends during this season in Colin Mant, Ian Coles, Mick O’Flynn, Pat Mongelard and Phil Anthony through a mixture of retirement and moving on to pastures new and I would like to take the opportunity in thanking them all for the years of service to this club not just in a playing capacity but for all the other elements they contributed to through the years. Replacing these stalwarts was always going to be one of the biggest challenges this season but as Pat wrote in the last match report of the previous season it was a necessary task to recruit more players, younger players. It has been a work in progress all season, but I think we have managed to successfully fulfil the task and looking forward to next season and beyond, we now have a great core of players to take us forward.
With the addition of mainstay regulars Tom Girling, Aaron McWilliams, his brother Ben and Dave Morgan sprinkled in with the occasional appearances of Diccon Kaenzig and Landy Sakala we have unearthed 6 very good players that have made their debut for us this season. Rumour has it that all 6 will return next season. The future is bright, the future is Farnborough Senior Vets!
With the season now over, we only have to wait until 21st August 2022 for next season to kick off and we will play right through to 28th May 2023. This should give us a schedule of potentially 40 games. We hope it will be just as enjoyable as this season was. I would like to thank every player who made an appearance for us, I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer and I will be in touch with regards to next season in the coming weeks.
Man of the match: Danny Mullins