Sunday 28th September 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
A chequered performance as Farnborough Senior Vets wilt in West Farleigh
This away game is probably the furthest away from home on our fixtures list but none the less one that we look forward to greatly not least because of the picturesque pitch in the Kentish Weald, and also the quality and demeanour of the opposition.
Surprisingly perhaps we all arrived in good time and without fuss though with at least one very loud shirt, to enjoy the setting, livestock included, and the superb weather. Once we had changed, and made our way through three sets of gates across well-fertilised fields, we took in the expanse of the pitch, felt the sun on our backs, enjoyed the company of a young cocker spaniel (sadly not Caesar), and those who had moulded footwear would have felt wise on the green but firm pitch.
The Farnborough contingent was arranged like this:
Paul Scotter Ian Coles Steve Blanchard Patrice Mongelard
Simon Thomas Ian Lyons Nick Waller Waine Hetherington
Andy Faulks Colin Mant
Substitutes: Roger French, George Kleanthous, Mick O’Flynn.
Supporters: Sinisa Gracanin, Jane Martin, Rebecca Coles, Isabelle and Thomas French, Louie Dwight.
We were expecting a tough but fair game and that is what we got. The opening exchanges were even with defences on top, the midfield congested and the goal keepers untroubled. West Farleigh had two quick and mobile forwards (arguably their two best players) supplied by a midfield who could play a bit, ahead of a good defence.
We took the lead after a quarter of an hour with a trade mark strike from Andy Faulks. He controlled a cross field ball from Simon Thomas on the edge of the penalty box, cut inside his marker and unleashed a crisp twenty-yarder that curved beyond the keeper into the top corner. This was vintage “Compo”. Alas this was to be our brightest moment.
Five minutes later we lost midfield anchor Ian Lyons to an aggravated calf injury. George Kleanthous came off the bench (that should be beach perhaps) and we re-arranged the deck chairs on the Titanic, so to speak. Slowly West Farleigh tightened their grip in midfield and began to probe the right of our defence in particular, with Gary pulling off a couple of very good saves to preserve our slim advantage.
Colin Mant then did an uncool thing in checking the momentum of a West Farleigh forward in our box and the penalty was awarded. We were not entirely convinced about the decision and, as footballers do, felt justice was done when the spot kick was blasted high and wide.
Our relief did not last long as yet another injury occurred on the half hour and Ian Coles shuffled off, and Mick O’Flynn, himself just out of convalescence, arrived on the scene. Five minutes before half time Mick O’Flynn and Nick Waller attempted some trigonometry on the edge of our box which did not go as planned. The ball was intercepted, recycled quickly by West Farleigh and their equaliser was struck with barely five minutes to go to half time.
We were thirsty and flustered at half time. We felt that we had matched West Farleigh but for a final ball to make the difference. The absence of water bottles for yet another week was particularly noticeable given the scorcher of a day. It is a mystery why a club like ours cannot obtain a set of water bottles in over two weeks and more so perhaps why the players cannot do something about it. I had brought two bottles of water and six Jaffa oranges. We had Jaffa cakes though. Jane also had the stylish thermos flask awarded a few seasons ago for her loyal support with her but it did not hold sufficient tea to quench everybody’s thirst.
Roger French came on at half time for Colin Mant as our only “fit” substitute. Whatever hopes we might have had as the second half got under way were dashed fairly quickly.
Naturally we pressed forward and in one such move on the right Mick O’Flynn, lively but unlucky perhaps, lost the ball and the West Farleigh Express, quick, ginger, feisty – I have referred to him as TinTin in previous encounters, took over with a thirty yard dash and hit a superb twenty-yard shot beyond Gary’s hands which made contact with the ball, into the top corner.
Five minutes later a West Farleigh midfielder contrived to lob our 6 ft 3 Gary from the edge of our box and that was it. We had another half of an hour to endure and by then Paul Scotter had left the field, yet another injury, and we were down to the bare XI with Colin Mant returning. Our bench now had four injured players on it – all out like the patients of some cottage hospital in the Kent countryside wheeled out, by nurse Jane Martin, to enjoy the morning sun,
The last hour was actually quite well-contested. Our heads did not go down. Our defending got more last-ditch than composed. Yet we played some good stuff but the final ball was never there – for example we seemed reluctant to cross the ball from the right when in good positions after clever approach play (it was all sizzle like the weather, but no steak). I cannot recall a clear scoring opportunity for us in the second half. West Farleigh had made the most of their few chances and in the end they were worthy winners who made home advantage tell.
The après-match was centred on the Good Intent public house. Roger French joined us even though his associate Simon Thomas had lost his car keys and was left alone with his worries, to retrace his steps, possibly to find the cowpat that held the object of his desire. Roger seemed more concerned about getting at the hot food, worried perhaps by the ravenous presence of Nick Waller in the buffet area. No doubt Roger was relieved to see Simon arrive in his car or maybe he was just happy inserting his hot sausage in two onion rings. Yes, hot sausages, chips and onion rings had been brought out with Colin Mant providing the table cloth. He and Paul Scotter had arrived together like the Blues brothers gingham style (certainly not gangnam despite the shades) and we were greatly cheered by this – thanks lads – keep up your crimes against fashion.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous, refreshed after his long and unexpected holiday.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous