Sunday 1st March 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Seniors stun Santos in Sunday sunshine
This was yet another “home” game switched to the Beckenham Cricket Club in Foxgrove Road, away from Farrow Marshes due to a clash of fixtures and to avoid the interaction of clay and anticipated precipitation. I would wager that none of us expected the dry and sunny morning that we had. There was a fresh breeze but not enough to remind us of winter, and somehow sunshine feels even better in a setting that accommodates both cricket and tennis.
There were “only” fourteen of us on this occasion, including the player that had come the furthest, Eric Johnson all the way from the USA. Andy Faulks had only come from Chislehurst but he needed two cars – beginning with Sinisa Gracanin’s to take him where he thought he had left his car the night before. Among those missing were George Kleanthous struck again by the Mummy’s curse – more bandages required, this time for broken ribs sustained against West Farleigh on 22 February but we hope this will not be the end of his season – so you could say the Mummy will return. I think George sent a pre-match message to Roger via Colin Mant to wish us well.
Another absentee was the man from TN32 5UB, Colin Brazier; as was the levitating match winner from last week, Nick Waller; our midfield muscle Obi Ugwumba and also Mick O’Flynn celebrating a wedding anniversary (Roger – take note). I say we had fourteen – in fact that number became thirteen after Phil Anthony gallantly offered to play for Santos who had only ten players – and that he was to do with his usual dogged spirit. The referee was Nick Kinnear – a very fair and no nonsense individual who still has drinks bought for him for once sending Roger French off.
Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Ian Lyons;
Paul Scotter, Sinisa Gracanin, Colin Mant, Ian Shoebridge;
Andy Faulks, Waine Hetherington
Substitutes: Roger French, Eric Johnson.
Supporters: Thomas and Isabelle French, Jane Martin, (injured) Simon Thomas and partner Amanda Sim with a little porcelain doll called Daisy, Louie Dwight, Jo and Isabella Mant, Jo Colyer and Toby Manchip.
Santos started the better. They had a dynamic midfield with several technical players who put in a lot of effort to close us down and deny us time and space. They had two quick wide players who also had a physical presence about them and who were not slow to get behind us chasing enormous kicks from their keeper who made the most of the following wind. We struggled to make an impact on the big units in their defence. Andy Faulks was dropping deep to forage for the ball, not a good sign usually. Yet it was Farnborough who fashioned the better early scoring opportunities.
After a quarter of an hour Andy Faulks engineered a one on one which was met by a smart save from the Santos keeper diving low to his left. The keeper was to do even better five minutes later with a triple save. First he stopped a low Farnborough shot, then he got in the way of the follow-up from a yard out from Colin Mant who had pounced on the ball with the energy and urgency of an inflatable. Maybe this is harsh on Colin – but the keeper deserves a lot of credit. The ball was still in play in the Santos box and was struck against the post by Ian Shoebridge, coming back into the centre of goal where Sinisa Gracanin applied the connection but it was not as clean or powerful as he would have liked and the keeper was in the right place to gather the ball.
Not long after that we paid the price for these misses. A good cross into the centre of our box from the powerful right winger who was having a mighty tussle with a bullish Ian Lyons, was glanced smartly beyond Gary in our goal who had until then excelled. The changes we made on the half hour, bringing on Roger French and Eric Johnson for Ian Shoebridge and Paul Scotter, did not do the trick as we fell behind further after Santos pounced on our defensive misdemeanours to squeeze a shot low into the bottom corner. We had an opportunity to reduce the deficit when an exquisite cross from Patrice Mongelard found Andy Faulks in the centre of the Santos box, between their twin towers and Andy’s header found the crossbar with the Santos keeper beaten.
It was not clear at half time how we would get back in the game. We now had the wind in our favour though but the first ten minutes or so of the second half were even. Just before the hour though we had a free kick on the edge of the Santos box, about twenty yards out – ideally suited for a left footer of distinction. We had the man for the job in Waine Hetherington and he delivered the jewel in the crown of our six goals today as he found the top corner, with the ball kissing the underside of the bar as it dropped behind the keeper into the back of the net. This was a thing of great beauty that footballers dream of.
How do you score six goals in half an hour? Quickly. No, it is not, as someone quipped later in the changing room - with Colin Mant off the field. On the hour we brought Ian Shoebridge and Paul Scotter back on for Ian Lyons and Colin Mant. That switch gave us a new energy, shape and purpose particularly in midfield. Our opponents had no subs to bring on and I think that counted against them. It is very true our fortunes improved markedly after Colin departed but any causal relation between the two events is, I think, entirely coincidental. In fact Colin is a team man par excellence, and he will undoubtedly have been delighted to see that three of us today – Patrice Mongelard, Eric Johnson and Sinisa Gracanin, joined what Sini called the exclusive club of players who have scored for us this season. Colin may yet join us.
We blitzed Santos with an avalanche of goals. Our equaliser was struck by Patrice Mongelard, a twenty-yarder from the edge of the box, which Patrice, with the power of thought alone, had convinced the other twenty-one players on the pitch was going to be a cross (With reference to an article by Adam Hurrey entitled They All Count: 101 Ways to Score a Goal (or Not) it was interesting to note the following entry at No 71: Cross-Cum-Shot - Sometimes the dubious phenomenon of being caught in two minds can pay off. Goalkeepers can be left red-faced by a convenient cross-cum-shot, after which the inquest begins over whether the goalscorer meant it or not. - Ed) but the ball sailed into the top corner beyond the reach of the flummoxed Santos keeper. Historians among my readers may recall that we beat Santos 6-2 before, on 9 March 2008 – I was the only FOBG scorer today left from that game. I scored a cracker then and I did today also. See you in 2022.
The goals came quickly: Andy Faulks made the most of a through ball from Ian Shoebridge to lash the ball into the net from the edge of the box. We were now 3-2 up and hungry for more. But it was Santos who were thrown a lifeline as referee Nick Kinnear gave a penalty against Patrice Mongelard. The Santos forward had tangled with Patrice, got away with the ball, taken a stride, looked up, computed his angles, waved at the crowd, fired off his shot, before falling to the ground and that was enough for referee Nick Kinnear. Thankfully – the Santos penalty taker was unnerved by the “Gary, Gary” chants from our young supporters, and his kick was saved brilliantly by Gary who had taken Toby Manchip’s touchline advice to go right. Soon after Eric Johnson, played in behind the Santos defence by Andy Faulks, feinted to shoot with his right foot, dragged the ball back to his left and curled it into the opposite bottom corner. Waine Hetherington was then put through by Patrice Mongelard and after cutting in Wayne produced another classy finish to make it 5-2. There was still time for Sinisa Gracanin to get on the scoresheet with a crisp half volley from the inside the Santos box. Ian Shoebridge nearly made it seven after controlling a lofted pass from Andy Faulks at the far post but he fell over at the point when goalbound contact with the ball was needed.
The après-match conversation in the clubhouse was sparkling as ever – ranging from how many sausages and chips Roger French could eat in the absence of buffet Walrus Nick Waller; to the cultural impact of Renaissance art from a midweek trip to Florence, on Toby Manchip (nil); to the benefits of showering after exertion, to the importance of celebrating wedding anniversaries. I imparted advice on the latter to Roger French (here Mrs M was highly amused to hear later that I had advised putting the family first over football).
There was further joy from the day for myself and Master Thomas French as we watched the Liverpool-Man City game on the big screen in the clubhouse. Thomas clutched his lucky Easter egg throughout.
Man of the match: Waine Hetherington – for two of the smartest finishes you will ever see in a single game (almost just like at Anfield!).
Man of the match: Waine Hetherington