Sunday 19th October 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets morale high despite harsh score line against much younger opposition
This was our second trip to sunny Dulwich this autumn and without disrespect to our previous opponents, today we travelled with less hope. Our new opponents, Peckam Rye Vets had had the better of our Young Vets twice narrowly in recent times. We all arrived on time though in reality looking at our opponents we felt we were, on average, ten to fifteen years late for this game. We have played younger teams before but we expected a lot of savoir-faire to face us, and so it came to pass.
When the referee started proceedings between the yellow and blues, and the yellow and reds we were arranged like this:
Mick O’Flynn Steve Blanchard Ian Coles Patrice Mongelard
Simon Thomas Colin Mant Ian Shoebridge Waine Hetherington
Andy Faulks George Kleanthous
Substitute: Roger French, Stephane Anelli, Phil Anthony, Paul Scotter
Supporters: Isabelle and Thomas French. Louie Dwight
Our worst fears were confirmed after only ten minutes when Peckham Rye took the lead as we failed to clear the ball from a corner. The shot was tame but had been well-placed and it looked like it had taken Gary by surprise as he gave the clear impression that he thought it was going wide.
In those first ten minutes the pattern of play had been set. We packed the midfield but our younger and quicker opponents found time and space to move the ball about. They had a couple of forwards who were quick on their feet, and even quicker with the ball, which kept our defence busy and anxious.
The next half hour though was evenly contested, in the midst of which we introduced Stephane Anelli and Paul Scotter for Ian Shoebridge and Ian Coles. True we were limited to isolated raids and their back four had a lot of composure and could pass their way out of a paper bag. Gary was the busier keeper undoubtedly and Peckham had at least one fine example of woeful finishing but it was not a one-sided affair.
Mick O’Flynn combining well with Simon Thomas on the right almost got through and Andy Faulks had a decent shout for a penalty midway through the half. Colin Mant threw himself heroically, kitchen sink/crown jewels and all, to block a shot on the edge of our box (this earned him at least one man of the match vote I believe).
The fact that it took Peckham another half hour before they could score again gave us a lot of heart. Steve Blanchard had cut out a through ball acrobatically only for the ball to fall in the no-Farnborough-midfielder’s land in front of our back four, and the resulting Peckham shot was low and again well-placed but Gary would have been disappointed to get a good hand on it but not divert it around the post.
Roger French, Phil Antony, Ian Coles and Ian Shoebridge came on at half time as Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Andy Faulks and Waine Hetherington took a breather. We were all pleasantly surprised that we set about making a contest of it – George Kleanthous was immense in his new, self-financed, special edition No 13 shirt.
Roger “Pickfords” French set about introducing the Peckham whippet on the wing – who sported a ginger beard to make him look older, to the fine art of the forklift truck defence – that is when a forward is not only hit by a truck but there is also lifting action which can relocate the forward in time and space. But there was no ill-feeling.
In fact the only bad tackle came with a quarter of an hour left when Phil Anthony was the victim of a two-footed lunge that ended his participation (and brought Steve Blanchard back). Good thing that Phil’s dog, Caesar was not there or we could have had the curious incident of the dog in Dulwich - Caesar had thoughtfully sent some of his biscuits for Patrice Mongelard.
The second half was a tad different from the first with Peckham perhaps lacking the cutting edge of the first half and we were able to play more of the game in their half. We made more changes midway with Patrice Mongelard, Waine Hetherington, Andy Faulks and Mick O’Flynn coming back on for Simon Thomas, Colin Mant and Steve Blanchard. Yes you read this right it was four for three and for a brief minute we played with twelve men such was George Kleanthous’ appetite for the game that he did not hear the call to step down.
George was not out of the game for long as a few minutes later he was back on for Ian Shoebridge, and harried the Peckham Rye centre half who was showboating a bit, into an error and Andy Faulks was on hand to intercept the ball and beat the young Peckham Rye keeper (in front of his watching dad). For a brief while we dared hope that we could get an equaliser.
It was not to be – we were undone by two very good bits of finishing in a space of five minutes towards the end as we pressed to get something out of the game. The big unit leading the Peckham Rye line showed great finesse first in lobbing Gary from the edge of our box, and then curling a shot against the inside of the post to give a final score line that was a tad harsh on us. Yet there was a spring in our step at the end. We did not even mind the cold showers – it was twenty degrees outside after all, on 19 October.
The platter of chips, sausages and buttered isosceles slices of white bread without crust did not last long even though buffet Czar Nick Waller was not there. I had no need to chew on Caesar’s biscuits as my positioning for the buffet was as usual excellent.
The man of the match voting seemed more tactical on this occasion but, I think, not Zimbabwean in any way, and in the end we had two of them: Roger French and George Kleanthous, that’s democracy for you.
Man of the match: Roger French and George Kleanthous