Sunday 2nd November 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
The only 40-goal-a-season striker in the village grabs a fine pair
Today was technically a home game for us but three teams cannot go into two pitches at Farrow Fields so we ended up playing this match at Goals in Eltham. Referee Mick Gearing also travelled from Farnborough Village today. There were plenty of parking bays for everyone even if Mick found his not deep enough as he could not go all the way in.
And what a pleasant surprise this place was. Our last visit to this facility a few years ago when it was under different ownership and management caused me to coin the word stalagshite. Today we experienced superb facilities, helpful staff, and excellent pitches even in difficult playing conditions. We should have guessed things were on the up for us as we also had five new match balls, and a full set of new water bottles.
We also had five substitutes. Overnight our number had increased – usually it goes down. Obi Ugwumba, a man of impeccable judgement in my view, had declared himself fit to play after a long absence due to injury, and he brought a muscular presence to our midfield. Thankfully our performance matched these improvements and we recorded our first clean sheet this season. Our last clean sheet was on 30th March.
In the thin drizzle, once we had pitched the French tent to keep our things, and the French enfants, dry - we faced the elements like this:
Paul Scotter Steve Blanchard Ian Coles Patrice Mongelard
Simon Thomas Colin Mant Ian Shoebridge Colin Brazier
Andy Faulks George Kleanthous
Linesman: Paul Parsons (influenced by one of the hottest and sunniest Halloween's in recent history to come along and watch kindly offered to run the line for the whole game and ended up having to sit on a plastic bag for the drive home having got completely and utterly soaked)
Substitutes: Roger French, Nick Waller, Ian Lyons, Obi Ugwumba, Phil Anthony.
Supporters: Isabelle & Thomas French; (briefly) Jane Martin and Rebecca Coles.
Our opponents made a bright start with fluent passing mostly in their half. But once we got a grip of the game we started creating chances. George Kleanthous and Andy Faulks were a real threat, aided and abetted by our midfielders down both flanks and through the middle. Lads of the Village were playing on the break and they had midfielders who could thread a ball but our offside trap worked well to the dismay of the Albanian forward on the other side, who had a lot of trouble with it, despite Paul Scotter’s translation. After fifteen minutes a slick passing move saw George Kleanthous tee up Andy Faulks in a central position on the edge of the box. Andy’s smooth finish did the rest and we thought more goals would come in the now teeming rain.
Colin Brazier, Andy Faulks, George Kleanthous, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas were all buzzing in and out of our opponents’ box and all had shots on target. Several good crosses went begging. It is a mystery how we failed to increase our lead but the fact is that the goalkeeper and defence facing us were no village idiots. It is also a mystery how Simon Thomas managed to squeeze through the railings to retrieve a ball that had gone over the 8 foot fencing. Only two of our sixteen players today could probably do this. Nick Waller agreed he was not the other one. Ian Lyons came on for Steve Blanchard to give us three Ians, (on top of two Colins), midway through the first half, and had some initial trouble finding his feet but we got away with it. It remained to be seen whether we would be made to pay for not taking more of the opportunities we had created, not least as we made five changes at half time:
OFF - George Kleanthous, Patrice Mongelard. Ian Shoebridge, Paul Scotter and Ian Coles;
ON - Steve Blanchard, Roger French, Obi Ugwumba, Nick Waller and Phil “sniper” Anthony.
The sniper takes out forwards when they get within Phil’s range.
These changes unsettled us and for a third of an hour an equaliser must have seemed within grasp for Lads of the Village, especially when we kept missing chances. Roger French put the ball over from three yards out with his wrong foot. Andy Faulks rolled the ball against the base of the post. Simon Thomas forced two good close range saves from the keeper. Roger French had cunningly disguised a lay-off by appearing to fall over when he set Andy Faulks up for a twenty-five yarder that went just over. At the other end Steve Blanchard in particular helped us weather the storm.
Once again the explosive Faulks provided relief – with twenty-five minutes of the second half gone Andy capitalised on a defensive error and rounded the keeper to give us a two-goal cushion from a tight angle. Seconds later the same ruthless substitutions policy that saw Roger French replace George Kleanthous up front, saw Andy Faulks yanked off, like some unsuitable undergarment.
We made final changes to our line up returning Ian Shoebridge, George Kleanthous, Patrice Mongelard and Paul Scotter, in lieu of Colin Mant, Colin Brazier, Andy Faulks and Simon Thomas. That seemed to finish our opponents off, who lacked our resources to bring on subs of their own, and our game once again became assured and we set about creating new chances.
Ian Shoebridge and George Kleanthous in particular gave us fresh impetus with their direct running and busy style. It was no surprise when they combined, with George flicking the ball expertly into Ian’s path, for him to burst into the box and deftly lift the ball over the keeper from a yard out. Ian also forced a great one-handed save from the keeper who dived to his left to keep a piledriver out. There was time for Roger French to connect well with a corner from Patrice Mongelard at the near post, this time with the right (left) foot but the keeper saved it.
Today we had our first sense that football is a winter game as we stood shivering in the heavy rain on the touchline. This made the hot showers even more welcome and we were all quite long in the showers. Colin Brazier wins the prize for taking home the heaviest kit of season. It took two of us to heave it to his car. Colin resisted the temptation to go to the huge Topps Tiles opposite the ground and instead went for the beefburgers, pizza slices and hot dogs in the comfy sports bar.
After a dogged performance at right back in the second half Phil Anthony did go to the shop, in this case the adjoining Pets at Home, to get Caesar (who was at home) a new lead as he keeps chewing them. We have often choked on a lead but not today. When all the food was gone, I left, just as a stewards' enquiry started into the single man-of-the match vote awarded to Patrice Mongelard – a tad mean I thought on my 461st appearance for Farnborough Vets – but then I’ll admit to ruffling a feather or two in my match reports.
Next week we are back at Farrow Fields where Colin Mant once played cricket. We will have a bit longer to find our way there, as it will be an 11:02 kick off on Remembrance Sunday. We may get to see Mick Gearing’s war medals. I hope to see some chicken legs. Before then there will be bonfire night. Today our own Faulks was on fire in the rain.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge for a great engine in driving rain, and a smart Shoey shuffle that made the score line emphatic.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge