Sunday 15th March 2015
By Colin Mant
Farnborough made to rue missed opportunities
Mothering Sunday meant that squad numbers were on the low side, in fact, by Saturday, these had depleted further with goalkeeper Steve Palmer pulling out to send us down to a bare 11. With a daunting journey to Reigate, a team that we haven’t had too much luck against in our previous encounters, the longest journey on our calendar looked to be a bit longer. Rog put out an SOS which was answered by Pat Sayer, debuting in goal, and Dave Green, a player that isn’t a stranger to the red and yellow stripes, turning out for us and we thank them both for volunteering at such short notice to give us an (unlucky?) 13. Both players did more than just make up the numbers.
Also missing were the managerial duo Statler and Waldorf, so the baton was passed to the Aardvark/O’Filth wet dream team to organise the troops. In a twist to the norm we had a pre-match team talk to gee each other up, with Captain Colesy leading the rallying call, a role that suits him well and I felt we benefited by having a leader on the pitch. If I miss details in this report I apologise, and it may be short of its usual humour or theme due to being unable to recall specifics!! My eyes were everywhere making sure all our pieces were in the places we needed them to be! This management malarkey ain’t all it’s cracked up to be – no wonder Holloway went round the bend! Reigate had their own ref and linesmen, all kitted out, and the ref gave us a lecture – which went on longer than the team talk – on the offside rule. I reflected that we may wish to deck out Mr Gearing in more fitting attire, maybe a ref onesie for the winter months, and we could also chuck in a whistle!
We lined up as follows: Pat Sayer in goal, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Coles, Paul Scotter and Colin Brazier at the back, Simon Thomas, Colin Mant, Obi Ugwumba and Waine Hetherington in the middle, with Andy Faulks and George Kleanthous up front. Dave Green and Nick Waller waited in the wings. Our support was also depleted and only Obi Ugwumba Jnr and Louie Dwight made it to the terraces.
Early exchanges were pretty even, but it was clear that Reigate were looking to seek out their danger man, who had scored four against us previously. Pat Sayer had to be sharp with his hands and got down well to grasp a stinging effort from their pocket rocket, who had a swift turn of speed. Reigate looked to be up for the battle and some fruity banter at one of their corners was evidence that this was going to be a day when we needed to show character. We then put together a wonderful flowing move and Waine was put in on the left and his cross was deflected wide for a corner. We were holding our own when they again found their striker and Paul Scotter checked his advance on the edge of our area, unfairly according to the ref. I thought it was a bit of a soft decision and it was not to go unpunished. Our wall was in place, but was built by an inebriated brickie, and their striker picked himself up off the deck to lash it into the unguarded corner to give them the lead.
Not content with them taking the lead we upped our game and began to slice them apart. Waine and Colin B were linking well and our opportunities were coming from that direction. One cross from George found its way with pace to Simon at the far post, but he prodded wide. George clipped the woodwork and we were on the front foot. Our retribution was swift and we did not take long to reply as Michael found Compo with a laser-like ball through the left back channel. Options looked short as Compo looked up and with typical deadly intent beat the keeper with an effort from an unlikely angle. One of their players remarked that he wished he could cross it like that. Those of us in the know understand that it was never intended to be a cross.
Disappointingly we fell behind again as Reigate found their main-man who outpaced Paul, rounded Pat, and slipped the ball into the net to put Priory 2-1 up. Again we pressed forward and Waine wriggled through after their midfielder went down injured, but could only win a corner. An ugly scene then ensued with Waine being accused of catching their man from behind, although no contact was made. With a pause in the play while their injured man was carried off, although he would have been sent off for thrusting his forehead towards Waine, we made our substitutions with Colin M and Michael parting for Dave G and Nick. It was a cruel blow indeed when, against the run of play, they worked the ball into their star striker and he volleyed it into the far corner to give them a 3-1 advantage.
Unlike last week though we did not let our heads drop. Chances were coming for us and Andy spooned a one on one wide of the mark. George, threatening all half, had a few chances but woodwork intervened on one occasion and he will know he could have done better with a couple more. The club’s sniper had made the journey and Simon fell into his sights, taking tumble when attempting to drive up the right flank. Dave G then nearly scored with a screamer that defected over off the back of their defender. Our pressure was rewarded when Colin B picked up the ball outside of their box and he unleashed a shot of some venom, from 30 yards (3 yards on the Pat-o-meter) which arrowed in, pinging off the inside of the post on the way in. A beauty, and certainly worthy of making it onto our Goal of the Season shortlist. What a good Cockapoodle!! Down at half-time, but nowhere near out, we gathered our thoughts at the break.
Second-half was not much different from the first and, although they looked dangerous through their one outlet, we looked solid and played great football, everyone was vocal and showing a willingness to work hard. On around 55 minutes we were forced into a tactical change as Paul Scotter had to come off through injury to be replaced by Michael. We switched Nick in at centre-back and it is these genius tactical switches that games are won and lost by. Colin B was out on his feet and breathing lead, but when I informed Waine he was going to have to drop into the left-back spot Colin seemed to get his fourth or fifth wind.
While we did not create such clear cut openings, we were very much the better side, although we couldn't find the equaliser we deserved. With time filtering away, I came on for Simon, more because I was freezing by the time the 70th minute arrived than through any attempt at tactics! With us looking vulnerable to a classic sucker punch as we pushed forward, Reigate broke forward and delivered a teasing ball into our box. It was beyond the resistance of Nick Waller who produced an echo of his effort which mugged off Newton a few weeks ago, launching himself full length to bag his fourth of the season. Two for us, two against us - and his second own goal in two games and he is on a hat-trick. As one wag remarked after the game, one more and the oppo will get to keep him! Cue the ghostly Barry Davies voice…“Look at his face, just look at his face”….bright red with embarrassment I would wager.
Again this did not deter us and we pressured them again. Mick felt a twinge in his groin, which I hope was not an unwanted reaction to eating bananas, and Simon replaced him for the last 10 minutes. It was Simon that provided the pass for our consolation, thrashed home by Andy from the edge of the box. Time ran out and Priory earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory and we were left to reflect on missed chances which, on another day, would see us win comfortably. Handshakes at the end were given warmly and we look forward to playing Priory next season.
One thing that could not be faulted was the commitment and the effort that everyone put in, and there were some great performances today. While it would be unfair to single out individuals today, a special thank you must go to Pat Sayer and Dave Green for coming to our rescue. Pat pulled off some good saves, commanded his box well and would walk into any team as a number one and Dave put in a combative shift in midfield, being energetic, vocal and was unlucky not to score.
So, what did I learn in my week in management? Well, I guess opinions are like a**e holes, everyone has one! I also learnt that there is such a thing as an ‘unwanted erection’. I’ve never had an erection that was unwanted but, then again, I’ve never been to prison. Anyway, I quit! With no buffet on offer we were restricted to liquid refreshment only, although Nick was spotted with a ham sandwich…perhaps a grateful gift? In other news this week the world’s first successful penis transplant took place. This can be the only explanation for Gary Fentiman’s mystery absence, given his vehement denial that he plays for another team (said Waine!). We hope it takes root and wish him many wanted and unwanted erections.
Colin B was rewarded with the honour of being our man of the match today with a performance that contained everything. He distributed warm words of gentle encouragement, defended diligently and supported the attack with a lung bursting effort of sheer guts and determination. We were even treated to the classic “I’m f**king left-footed” and his goal wasn’t half bad either. Okay, scrap the warm words of gentle encouragement, the rest is true! Good doggy….
Man of the match: Colin Brazier