Sunday 11th January 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Senior Vets come twice from behind to frustrate Inter Vyagra
And so we turned up, fifteen of us, to play our first game of 2015, unbeaten this year, hoping to avoid the despondency of our last visit to what has become our second home pitch in Foxgrove Road in Beckenham. The day was cold, bright, dry, and with a bit of a breeze. The playing surface was excellent, much better than usually encountered at this time of year, or at Farrow Fields in Farnborough (the richest village in Kent according to a Wellcome Vet who wondered why the millionaires of Farnborough could not look after our pitch). Inter Vyagra are much harder opposition these days – our last encounter almost exactly three months ago had ended in a draw. We had been a bit limp on that day and obviously hoped to perform better today.
Paul Scotter Steve Blanchard Ian Coles Patrice Mongelard
Simon Thomas Obi Ugwumba Colin Mant Ian Shoebridge
Waine Hetherington George Kleanthous
Substitutes: Roger French, Nick Waller, Colin Brazier, Andy Faulks.
Supporter: Louie Dwight; Isabelle & Thomas French, Obi Ugwumba Jr and Jo Colyer.
Ian Coles did the talking before referee Mick Gearing blew his whistle, mainly to stiffen the defence. This seemed to work as we took the game to Inter Vygara in the opening exchanges. Waine Hetherington and George Kleanthous linked up well in our attack and the Inter Vyagra keeper was busier than ours. We found out quite quickly how good he was - he looked a bit like a younger version of our own keeper, and we all felt after the game that without him, you could have been reading about Farnborough experiencing the joy of six against Inter Vyagra. I expect he was their man of the match, and deservedly so.
The early chances were ours, with Waine and George testing the keeper. Simon Thomas probed down the right to good effect and most of the play was in the Inter Vyagra half but without the sort of penetration we wanted. We forced a few corners and from one such set piece Patrice Mongelard produced a volley from the edge of the box that drifted a yard wide of the post with the keeper elsewhere. Even though we were playing against the wind we applied the greater pressure. Of course we had to be vigilant because Inter Vygara were not without a threat of their own from their nippy forward and compact midfield. They had some muscle in there too as we were astounded to see our own Michael “Akinfenwa” Ugwumba brushed aside with ease.
Defences were generally on top for the first twenty five minutes or so. We made four changes at that point with Andy Faulks, Roger French, Nick Waller and Colin Brazier coming on for Waine Hetherington, Patrice Mongelard, Simon Thomas and Ian Shoebridge. Things livened up quite quickly from then. Almost immediately we contrived to score an own goal as Steve Blanchard guided a ball back towards our goal just as Steve Palmer had started moving into the other direction after calling for the ball . We watched agonisingly as Steve’s deft touch carried the ball over the line without an Inter Vyagra player within ten yards.
More dangerous times followed five minutes before half time as Roger French (no doubt eschewing any New Year resolutions having to do with world peace) got tangled up with two Inter Vyagra players after a Norman Hunter special. Thankfully wiser heads prevailed as others stepped in to prevent more unseemly scenes as the red mist dissipated in the morning zephyrs. Roger French accepted referee Mick Gearing’s invitation to go to the sin bin, and Waine Hetherington came back on. This was technically a red card, not good for Roger’s OPTA stats, and whether there will be more of them this year for Roger is probably a no brainer, you might think. I couldn’t possibly comment.
From there we went to finish the half very strongly. We equalised after George Kleanthous applied an exquisite touch to volley an Andy Faulks cross over the Inter Vyagra keeper for a classy finish. Far less classy was the touch that Colin Mant applied when he sent the ball crashing against the bar from three yards out, with an empty goal and a stranded keeper at his mercy after excellent work on the left from Waine and George. Andy Faulks had another good opportunity to give us the lead as he latched on to a through ball to race clear of the Inter Vyagra defence but his touch was heavy, and the opportunity was gone.
We started the second half more brightly and had more cause to rue the excellence of the Inter Vyagra keeper as he pulled off top notch saves to deny Andy Faulks and George Kleanthous from close range. Obi Ugwumba had a pile driver saved on the line and we forced a string of corners. However, with a quarter of an hour gone Inter Vyagra re-took the lead from a simple corner which was nodded in by one of the smallest players on the pitch at the near post. The Farnborough defence had switched into Easter Island mode.
More changes were made on the hour as Paul Scotter, Colin Mant and Obi Ugwumba made way for the returning Patrice Mongelard, Simon Thomas and Ian Shoebridge. We continued to search for an equaliser even when Roger French came back on for Waine Hetherington with twenty minutes left. It is to their credit that Inter Vyagra did not object to Roger’s return. Lesser teams might have done. They also took it well when Patrice Mongelard produced a vigorous lateral thrust to take their nippy winger down roughly.
Some of the more juvenile members of the team had wondered before the match if Colin Mant would be taken roughly from behind by defenders like most Sundays but I am glad to say he was not interfered with. Inter Vyagra kept us at bay and as the final minutes ticked away we roused ourselves for a final attack. A throw-in from Patrice Mongelard was helped on by Ian Shoebridge, George Kleanthous and Nick Waller – and the ball landed in central space twenty yards from goal, just right for the predatory Andy Faulks who moved sharply, not slowed down by his beard (what he calls his winter coat) and drove the ball home beyond the Inter Vyagra keeper. This was a great climax. There was barely time to re-start the match as we snatched a deserved draw from the jaws of harsh defeat.
The changing rooms were busy with four Vets team vying for space and there were no ladies from the Beckenham Cricket Club hockey team in the showers (but you could see them in that setting au naturel, on their calendar behind the bar). The buffet would have been very nice I expect. I arrived late from the showers, as did buffet Czar Nick Waller, to find a virtually empty platter, save for one chip and a solitary sausage, The lads made a great show of having left the sausage “for Pat” but in the end Andy Faulks’ predilection for a buttered sausage got the better of him, with girlfriend Jo close by. I was left to the comfort of a few crumbs from a packet of Honey Mustard & Onion pretzel pieces (from Snyder’s of Hanover - America’s pretzel bakery since 1909).
Man of the match – a fine pair – in the form of Ian Coles and George Kleanthous.
Man of the match: Ian Coles & George Kleanthous