Sunday 16th October 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough bell tolls four times for Inter the Valley
It was almost exactly five months ago on 17 May that we first encountered Inter the Valley, a genial team of Charlton fans, who garnered the headline “Inter The Valley bury Farnborough at the death”. The result that day, 2-1 to them, remains an unsolved robbery in the annals of Farnborough football. There was no doubt about today’s result – we administered the last rites, but a more fitting score on the headstone could well have been 8-3 rather than 4-2.
Despite the gloomy overcast leaden skies we were keen to get this game on as a line of Farnborough-driven cars waited for an elderly gentleman, who ambled up the road weighed down by a huge bunch of keys, to open the gate, or rather lift the barrier into the Catford Wanderers Ground where today’s fixture was taking place. There was then a pause while the same gentleman found the keys to the changing rooms. This gave Kypros Michael time to call Val to order the buffet.
We had started delving into the kit bag for our yellow and red livery but upon checking next door took the view that it was best to avoid a clash of reds and so we changed into our Viagra blue away kit which was fortuitously with us. What was less fortuitous was the news that Rob Faulkner could not play after all – his calf had flared up in the warm up. I cannot help feeling that the Farnborough Senior Vets need a calf strategy, more on that later. We were in effect down to twelve players. Quality not quantity I hear you say – yes, but you also need equality of numbers and we nearly came a cropper today.
Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Phil Anthony;
Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge, Kypros Michael, Andy Faulks;
Pete Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Substitute: Chris Bourlet
Supporters: Freya, Kathleen and Thea Anthony and dog Caesar, Obi Ugwumba Jr (also linesman).
Our opponents had the better start. We looked like a team of strangers thrown together for the first time. There was no composure, our touch was poor and we had a lucky escape when the most dangerous and only Inter forward hit the crossbar after making space in the box. He had no choice but to shoot from a tight angle as none of his team mates had had the time to come up in support. There was a farcical bit of Sunday morning football involving a prostrate Paul Parsons and alleged former ballroom star Colin Mant who got his legs in quite a tangle, with Paul’s head between them, in our six-yard box as the ball squirmed out but we got away with it. Inter packed the midfield and it took us a while before we could start to play through them, to release Kypros Michael and Pete Harvey down the channels. Inter had some big units at the back and they took turns to take Pete Harvey roughly from behind. Pete must have felt he was playing with a double wardrobe strapped to his back at times.
The referee – the Inter Manager did a good job keeping things calm, fair and ticking over. He was particular about throw-ins and I was caught out twice, as were others, including from Inter.
We got our breakthrough after about twenty minutes when a neat one-two between Kypros Michael and George Kleanthous, our Hellenic Connection, released Kypros to round the keeper and slot the ball home. This improved our game and we began to relieve the pressure on our back four and take the game into the Inter half. Kypros was proving a thorn in Inter’s side and he drew good saves from their keeper at close range, even when a pass inside to Pete Harvey was the better option. Forwards are very selfish I understand so I won’t go there. We thought we had doubled our lead when Pete Harvey slotted the ball home but the referee had blown for a foul on George Kleanthous micro-seconds before. Andy Faulks was finding his feet and his range and gave us one or two reminders of his eye for goal. On the half hour Chris Bourlet had replaced Phil Anthony. However Phil barely had time to walk his dog Caesar round the field when he was called back into action. You could say it was a case of Caesar interruptus. Obi Ugwumba had succumbed to the curse of the calf and we had only eleven “fit” players for the last hour. Inter came back at us but without carving a clear chance as we held on to our slim advantage.
Five goals were scored in the second half. We got the first three of them, deservedly with the run of play. The half was about ten minutes old when Andy Faulks placed a shot low into the bottom corner after a lay-off from George Kleanthous. We then had a purple patch of about twenty minutes. Our third goal was the best – one minute we were defending a corner with an Andy Faulks header which found Pete Harvey midway inside our half. Pete advanced to the halfway line before releasing Kyp down the left who then crossed low for George Kleanthous to caress the ball into the net from a tight angle at the far post. It was incisive, one-touch stuff and all seemed to take place in the blink of an eye. Our fourth goal was not as pretty on the eye but they all count. From one of the several corners we forced in that half, Colin Mant was at it again, causing havoc and fear in the box (and there are still a few weeks to go to Halloween) and he arranged for the ball to hit Chris Bourlet and go in.
This was more like it. It could have been more. The profligacy of Kypros Michael in front of goal is legendary, and the talk of many taxi drivers on the island of Cyprus (as Mick O’Flynn found this week where he had gone to, you guessed it, nurse his calf) and today Kyp added copiously to the legend. I cannot explain how one misses three gilt-edged chances from three yards out – though I must credit the keeper with at least one great save in that sequence. Inter were down but not buried. They pulled one back with a cross-cum-shot that took Paul Parsons and another twenty players by surprise. The goal was not the most intended but it was deserved on the balance of play. We could even afford the luxury of a missed penalty by Pete Harvey after Kyp had been upended one too many times in the box after giving his marker the Kyp shuffle. The last ten minutes were a tense affair, unnecessarily perhaps, although we had not forgotten what Inter did to us five months ago and Ian Shoebridge was now hobbling in the centre circle with, you have guessed it, a calf injury. Inter pulled another goal back, a deserved strike from their most dangerous player but he was himself to exit with a twisted knee five minutes from the end.
Val produced a sumptuous buffet – bread, cheese, sausages, chicken nuggets, sausage rolls, pizzas, cucumber, tomato, crisps all in the absence of Buffet Undertaker Mick Waller (and big Charlton fan). I complimented Val on her wonderful spread and she invited me to come again.
Man of the match: Andy Faulks, rejuvenated in an unaccustomed role which he made his own, in the centre of midfield, no longer a peripheral frustrated figure, using his pace and ability to thread a pass, and to shoot. He deserved his goal today and more will follow – with bonfire night approaching Faulks is about to catch fire.
Man of the match: Andy Faulks