Sunday 14th February 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough come out smelling of roses
Another home game, time to wander off again to a firmer pitch, as we returned to the Catford Wanderers ground for the second consecutive week, hoping for a different result from last week’s, obviously. Injuries and something called Valentine’s day had reduced our numbers to thirteen, and overnight Andy Faulks developed a mystery ailment since the game he played yesterday (with Gary Fentiman). Young Farnborough Vet Pete Harvey, who is actually older than Andy came to our rescue as his game was called off. Our usual referee Mick Gearing who is, I think, older than Simon Thomas + any other Senior Vet, was having a day off for yet another birthday. So we added to the expense of the day by getting another referee who arrived in the nick of time, a little ahead of Steve Blanchard, who power-walked to the changing rooms as we were about to kick off. We welcomed back Stephane Anelli after an absence of over three months, to add much needed thrust to our midfield. Talking of thrust Mick O’Flynn brought along a photographic illustration of how to enter a bush for Roger French. Today, on the Feast of St Valentine, Roger was wisely keeping well away from bushes.
Colin Mant, Steve Blanchard, Patrice Mongelard, Roger French;
Nick Waller, Obi Ugwumba, Simon Thomas, Rob Lipscomb, Waine Hetherington;
Substitutes: Colin Brazier, Stephane Anelli;
Supporter/linesman: Obi Ugwumba Jr.
Despite the heavy pitch and greasy surface both teams made a good start and an even contest took shape early doors. Both sides had a cutting edge up front, the midfield was congested and both defences were managing to get out of trouble when threatened. Our keeper was marginally busier in the early quarter of an hour (but his handling was assured then and throughout) whilst Waine Hetherington and Pete Harvey were finding their range. The breakthrough, midway through the half, came from a mistake. Colin Mant was adjudged to have handled the ball in our box, harshly perhaps, conceding yet another penalty, and we fell behind. The Catford lead did not last long. Colin Mant atoned with a volleyed through ball to Waine Hetherington after a poor Catford goal kick; and Waine lofted an exquisite ball over the Catford keeper who was stranded off his line.
Soon after on the half hour Waine Hetherington and Simon Thomas came off for Stephane Anelli and Colin Brazier. That was a tipping point I felt as we finished the half strongly. We turned the game round with a Obi Ugwumba shot from the edge of the box. The connection was not entirely right and with only a fraction of the power Michael is capable of, but the direction and the ambition were enough to get the ball over the line. At that point we felt we could go on to get a third. Pete Harvey came closest when a lofted through ball from Obi Ugwumba dropped invitingly for Pete who controlled the ball first time on his chest and advanced on goal. Pete’s trusty left peg from three yards out did not do the job on this rare occasion but the warning to Catford was clear.
At half-time Roger French swapped sides and Waine Hetherington resumed his attacking midfield role with Colin Brazier dropping back in defence to douse the Catford fire. We dominated possession in the second half and created several shooting chances and good positions crying out for a good final ball but Catford had changed their keeper and the new one, who was in fact their most dangerous forward in the first half, gave an excellent account of himself. The pattern of the second half saw Catford playing mostly on the break whilst we kept probing for an opening and kept crossing and shooting. We felt we needed the extra daylight of a third goal but it never came. We mixed things up a bit on the hour by taking Rob Lipscomb off and restoring Simon Thomas on our right wing, to continue his smouldering Rudolf Valentino impressions. Pete Harvey and Stephane Anelli looked our most likely source of a third goal. At the other end we could be a danger to ourselves – Patrice Mongelard and Colin Mant got into each other’s way chasing a Catford through ball. This prompted Patrice to ask Colin if he was deaf as well as dumb, whilst Colin politely enquired of Patrice’s how his Tourette’s had gone undiagnosed for so long. As it was Valentine’s Day they kissed and made up.
Colin Brazier on the other hand was not going to be doing any kissing today in Bodiam, as his match was cut short when he pulled his groin hard, today of all days. Rob Lipscomb came back on as Colin hobbled off, to help us see the game out. Stephane Anelli came close to giving us the cushion we wanted but his shot from six yards hit the base of the post and rolled invitingly across goal. We were not entirely in control though as Catford pressed hard for an equaliser. Our game management nearly came a cropper as Catford fashioned a good one on one opportunity only to be frustrated by Gary’s reflexes from close range, and in the dying minutes they had a shot which looked very good on the eye until it swerved wide of the postage stamp. There was time for Roger French to thwart Pete Harvey in the Catford box.
We played better than we have been doing in recent weeks but only in patches, helped in no small way by relatively fresh faces Stephane Anelli and Pete Harvey. Catford are a much improved outfit these days, and a draw might have been the fairer result but we did well to come from behind on Valentine’s day, and dug deep to hold on, just.
This week we made sure that the excellent buffet rustled up by the Catford Wanderers bar staff was fully enjoyed by Farnborough players. Buffet Valentine Nick Waller did not go short – sausage rolls, sausages, garlic bread, quiche, pizza, chips, French bread, ham, cheese, crisps, cherry tomatoes and cucumber were shown a lot of love.
Man of the match: the Senior Vets’ Valentine was Stephane Anelli, back after an absence of over three months to show us what we have been missing. He also felt he could get away with taking the kit home – I suppose today is a good day as any to test a loved one with the Farnborough Senior Vets kit after a sweaty mud bath. He is a far braver man than I am.
Man of the match: Stephane Anelli