Sunday 18th September 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Groom scores twice almost as Farnborough come from behind in Dulwich
Before we get into the serious business of today’s match – I must mention an even more important matter, another sort of match. On Tuesday evening several of us, some with plus ones, and in Steve Blanchard’s case plus two – had the great pleasure of attending Simon Thomas’ wedding reception to celebrate the fabulous occasion with him and wife Amanda, and many others. The whole team could not be there but we had enough for a six-a-side. The funniest bit we heard in his bro’s (the best man) speech was “Simon plays football”. The saddest point was that the photo show on a big screen for most of the evening did not carry a single FOBG-themed item but every other detail was perfect. The most poignant moment was Simon’s own speech. “When will I be famous?” he might have asked himself – well, he will be famed for this speech. Beneath the quiff there is a huge heart. Today though we needed his legs and lungs, provided he was not feeling too drained, having interrupted his honeymoon to put on the Farnborough shirt.
Numbers had dwindled to fourteen overnight. Des Lindsay had a good reason, being stuck at Edinburgh Airport unlike Andy Faulks who was stuck in St Albans with a Blondie tribute band whilst Kypros Michael was stuck in Watford watching a Man Utd Tribute XI (apologies to Kyp - as a Liverpool fan I could not resist this quip). Special thanks were due to Dave Salako who stepped in at the last minute after potential debutant between the sticks Steve Hazell was unavoidably unavailable for family reasons. Roger French too was putting the family first. We had plenty of time to warm up while our opponents waited for one of their players to retrace part of his journey to get the kit which he had forgotten. Still it was a pleasure to warm up, let alone play, on what is arguably the best surface we play on at the King's College Sports Ground in SE21 7AL. The football was slick too, from both sides.
Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard;
Stephane Anelli, Sinisa Gracanin, Ian Shoebridge, Obi Ugwumba;
Pete Harvey, Simon Thomas.
Referee: SANCO players.
Substitutes: Dave Green, Mick O’Flynn, Colin Mant.
Supporters: Liam O’Flynn, Emma Weare, Obi Ugwumba Jr (also linesman).
Both sides started well, moving the ball about. We provided the greater forward thrust though without creating any clear chances. Both goalkeepers were not exactly overworked in the first quarter of an hour. The most dangerous SANCO player was their centre forward and be was a bundle of energy, good in the air, and making lots of runs down the channels or behind our defence and on the whole we managed to keep him quiet and Dave’s good hands and positioning were always there to help us out. At the other end Pete Harvey and Simon Thomas had the beating of the SANCO defence for pace but our game lacked accuracy in the final third. The midfield was where control of the game would be wrested and we shaded it there with Sinisa Garacanin in particular standing out. Ian Shoebridge was playing his first game in months and was a tad rusty, and in fact had to come off before half-time – to be replaced by Obi Ugwumba. Michael had himself come off on the half hour in the trio of changes we made with Green, O’Flynn and Mant replacing Anthony, Blanchard and Ugwumba. By then we had conceded – a bit against the run of play after Patrice Mongelard lost his footing in the box and was not able to clear the ball and close down the SANCO right winger who managed to squeeze his shot in from close range.
We were level within ten minutes after Simon Thomas – not weighed down by his new wedding ring (some say it gets heavier as time goes by), rounded the last SANCO defender and got his shot away - the SANCO keeper took the sting off the shot but this was Simon’s week and the groom had scored. We finished the half strongly with Harvey shooting when he could, and Anelli beginning to have an impact down the right. We were working hard, pressing SANCO high up the pitch and restricting them to long balls towards their dangerous target man (an ex-Farnborough man I understand who seemed determined to prove the law of the ex).
The half-time talk was stirring analytical stuff from Mick O’Flynn with Dave Salako and Pete Harvey giving further encouragement. It worked – within five minutes of the re-start Anelli had broken through the midfield and found Gracanin on the edge of the SANCO box – one touch with perfect control created the space and bang – the right boot propelled the ball into the top corner of the SANCO net. This was a crisp strike well-executed with class and intent. This was no more than we deserved on the balance of play and the usually large SANCO crowd had been silenced. But of course we knew from having lost our last game against them 5-0 that they demanded respect, and would come back. We had to defend well and work hard collectively to maintain our advantage. Mick O’Flynn’s calf went to join Ian Shoebridge’s and Phil Anthony was back on but he would not see the game out as his calf too went (a bovine threesome in the meadow which in real life would probably be put down for lameness) and Ian Coles was back on to see the game out (having earlier made way for a returning Steve Blanchard on the hour).
We had a scare when a SANCO forward missed a good chance to level the score at the far post and Dave was able to smother the ball with not a little help from Colin Mant. We knew we needed a third goal. We thought we had it when Pete Harvey penetrated the SANCO defence and squared the ball across the box, nay cut it back even, for Simon to score for a second time, so we thought. However, the linesman denied Simon his second moment of Sunday morning glory. We kept knocking on the door – Stephane Anelli had the bit between his teeth (playing his last game for a couple of months) and was giving the SANCO defence a lot to worry about. From his persistence down the right and not giving up on the ball which a SANCO defender wrongly thought would roll over the line, he was able to pick out Pete Harvey who applied the finish the move deserved. At 3-1 we felt SANCO would not get back in the game and so it proved. There were cameos from Pete Harvey beating three players and shooting just over with his right/wrong foot. Patrice Mongelard had a lung-bursting foray deep in the SANCO box, gliding past defenders bar the last one before he could cut the ball back or more likely shoot.
This was a tough game to win and both sides were up for it. There was not a bad tackle in the game, if you set aside the early raised studs which thankfully did no permanent damage to Sinisa Gracanin – and he was to have his revenge later – not far from the spot where he was felled earlier. In the changing room someone thought it would be amusing to text Roger French that we had lost the game 10-0 and we had had four players sent off after a mass brawl. From Roger’s response I think he believed us – briefly and with some regret/incredulity he had not been there. Such is the curse of social media. Our hosts were gracious in defeat and very social as a large plate of chips and hotdogs appeared with condiments and compliments– all the more welcome in the absence of Buffet Wolf Nick Waller.
Man of the match: our midfield maestro – Sinisa Gracanin
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin