Sunday 7th December 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough and Orpington share 6-goal derby thriller
This local derby was in fact played neither in Farnborough nor in Orpington, but in the environs of West Wickham at Langley Park Sports Club. We have a good record there, two wins in two visits last season, but today’s opponents had bested us in our first game of the season. So we were respectful, but not overawed as our recent form had been good. The freezing temperatures of the previous evening had given way to less cold but damper conditions, but the playing surface was excellent. We mustered fifteen – with Steve Palmer playing his first game in goal this season and looking understandably in need of WD40 (Gary Fentiman having been removed from the scene by family business). Another returnee was Stephane Anelli – back from singing in the rain in Japan to playing in the rain, as was Ian Shoebridge who had recovered from injury, now back to rib our opponents.
Patrice Mongelard Ian Lyons Ian Coles Nick Waller
Simon Thomas Colin Mant Sinisa Gracanin Waine Hetherington
Andy Faulks George Kleanthous
Substitutes: Roger French, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge and Stephane Anelli
Supporters : Thomas French, Louie Dwight and Obi Ugwumba Junior
We did not start well. Our play was tentative, disjointed, sloppy and we ceded the initiative to Orpington who looked livelier and more composed. Our display was not helped by an early injury after only five minutes to Nick Waller, who was replaced by Obi Ugwumba in an unfamiliar position at left back. Oddly, we felt we had weathered the initial thrust by Orpington with Ian Lyons and Ian Coles at the heart of our defence, and were gaining a measure of control when they scored first after a quarter of an hour. It was not entirely without our assistance. Sinisa Gracanin failed to clear a ball on the edge of our box, the shot came in, well-placed and although Steve Palmer had it covered he could not hold the ball and only managed to palm it into the path of a nippy Orpington forward who did very well to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle off the base of the post.
Our riposte did not take long – ten minutes later Waine Hetherington picked out George Kleanthous who controlled the ball on his chest, twenty-five yards out, before delivering an exquisite left foot volley that was too good for the Orpington keeper.
On the half hour we made three changes with Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard and Waine Hetherington making way for Stephane Anelli, Ian Shoebridge and Roger French. Once again we had to withstand Orpington pressure and they looked the more likely scorers but we managed to edge in front with a quick break. Andy Faulks had latched on to a through ball from George Kleanthous to create a one on one opportunity which the Orpington keeper saved with his legs only for the ball to fall to Ian Shoebridge twenty-five yards out, wide on the left. Ian was able to curve the ball high into the Orpington net with their keeper unable to prevent it going in despite getting a despairing hand to it.
We led 2-1 at half time – and felt we had done well to reverse the situation but Orpington would have felt hard done by. It did not take long for them to get back in the game. In fact within ten minutes of the restart they were ahead, with two quick and smart goals. Their best player arguably, the dangerous front man had capitalised on a Farnborough defensive lapse to sweep the ball above Steve Palmer from the edge of the box into the back of our onion bag, and restore parity. Five minutes later the same player drew an unnecessary foul just outside our box. What followed was the best goal of the match, a sumptuous free kick arrowed into the top corner of our goal beyond Steve Palmer’s reach. Thankfully it did not take us long to draw level. Obi Ugwumba won the ball on the edge of the Orpington box, in a central position, muscled his way to a shooting position, looked up and lashed the ball home to the beaming delight of Michael Junior. Nick Waller, now showered and hobbling on the touchline, said he knew it was a goal as soon as the ball left Michael’s boot. Footballers just know these things.
With half an hour left we made our final changes with Sinisa Gracanin, Simon Thomas and Obi Ugwumba coming off to allow Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant and Waine Hetherington back in the fray. The neutral will agree that we had the better of the final quarter of the game even though Orpington could be dangerous on the break. We forced several corners, got behind the Orpington defence several times to deliver crosses that almost came off. Ian Shoebridge hit the post from three yards out and Andy Faulks was inches from a telling connection in the Orpington six yard box and took a bit of a knock from the last ditch Orpington saving tackle. I think Orpington would agree that the final whistle would have been a greater relief to them than to us. It was one of the games where footballers intuitively feel that another ten minutes of play would have produced a winner. In other words Farnborough ran out of time to claim all three points. Over the allotted playing time a draw was the right result.
The game was played in excellent spirit once again between our two sides. The referee was very fair we thought. We play Orpington again in three weeks, soon after the three wise men have done their stuff, on 28 December - another thriller like today will do nicely.
Man of the match, the wise George Kleanthous – for whom the day got better as his match subs for next week will now come out of Waine Hetherington’s musty wallet (after George won their bet). Serve Waine right I thought, later, as he had munched his way through all of the only food on show today – a packet of salted peanuts. Not a lot for fifteen people you might think and Nick Waller, the President of the Farnborough Buffet Trenchermen’s Society did well to hide his disappointment. There will be food next week, as we are at home, but the weather might yet intervene on the Farnborough clay. Some will be missing from today’s XV, including Roger French who is rumoured to be putting his family first next Sunday. Others will be back, including, we hope, the Farnborough Old Boys Guild Renaissance man, Mick O’Flynn, to raise the tone of our pre, intra and post match conversations. I cannot believe I wrote that last sentence with a straight face, must be the season of goodwill.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous