Sunday 29th January 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Lads are the Only Winners in the Village
2017 started so well. General winter claimed the last two Sundays but today many of us hurried to the Stone Recreation Ground near Dartford to take on the Lads of the Village Super Vets. It was less cold than of late but the cup of tea we got from the burger van was very welcome. We even resisted the temptation of a bacon sandwich, yes even Nick Waller, but that may have been simply because he was not as early as some of us, or that he knew he would find our biggest shirt quite constricting. Between us we had two post codes for the ground and Pete Harvey used the one where the kids were playing (where parking might have been easier).
We had fourteen players on Friday but by kick-off we could only muster twelve. Understandably, Ian Shoebridge had pulled out to look after mum Pam who sustained a fall on Friday. Thankfully, there was nothing broken and all the Senior Vets send their good wishes to Pam. There are no good wishes, however, for Andy Faulks. His text at 10:10 this morning to say he was not turning up was a disappointment for a management team that has kept faith with Andy. Two of his meagre six goals this season had come in a 4-2 win against today’s opponents on 30 October.
Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier;
Mick O’Flynn, Obi Ugwumba, Colin Mant, Stephane Anelli;
Simon Thomas, Pete Harvey.
Substitute: Nick Waller.
Supporter and linesman: Obi Ugwumba (Jr).
Strategist, DJ, and midfield domino: Mick O’Flynn.
There were several familiar names missing and players like Stephane Anelli and Nick Waller/Colin Brazier who had not featured for quite some time, were playing their fourth and fifth games only this season respectively. We realised that it was going to be a struggle particularly in midfield where without naming anyone it felt like some of our players were playing in diving suits or treacle boots. Just how much of a struggle became clear after only ten minutes when Lads of the Village took the lead with a well-struck shot from the edge of our box after overrunning our midfield and a neat lay-off on the edge of the box.
We responded quickly with Pete Harvey latching on to a through ball from Simon Thomas to lob the keeper from the edge of the box. The trajectory of the ball did not appear entirely true but when questioned by the dubious goals committee Pete said he fully intended to lob the keeper but there might have been a bobble as he applied leather to leather. We had a measure of control at the back – we could not recall a single corner for our opponents in the first half; and yet on the half-hour we fell behind again, direct from a free kick conceded on the edge of the box. It was a good shot but we were disappointed that neither the defensive wall nor Paul Parsons could impede the trajectory of the ball. Nick Waller had come on for Obi Ugwumba after twenty five minutes but this had not enhanced our mobility in midfield on what is quite a wide pitch.
2-1 at half-time seemed a fair reflection of the game. We had not created too many chances but neither had the Lads of the Village though they had their noses in front.
When the second half started we had the sun (yes that is correct, the sun) and the slope in our favour. The early pressure was ours and we pressed hard for a second equaliser. We began to win corners and free kicks from which to threaten the Lads’ goal. Pete Harvey’s whipped corners were raising our hopes and we cannot explain how Steve Blanchard did not connect with the ball running in at the far post. Patrice Mongelard had a free kick which caused a Lads defender to head the ball against his crossbar but we could not capitalise on the rebound. On the hour though we back on level terms and what a splendid strike it was. A cross from Patrice Mongelard had found Nick Waller in a good position to have a pop at goal himself but he cleverly disguised his intervention by playing the ball to Pete Harvey who unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner from fifteen yards out. At 2-2 and with the prevailing direction of travel the neutral might have favoured Farnborough to claim all the "points". Yet with about ten minutes left we conceded a soft goal, with due credit to the big Lads of the Village forward who never gave up chasing a ball into our box that he just managed to toe poke past Paul Parsons (who seemed to have checked his run off his line).
This was a bitter blow on the break, against the run of play but that’s football. So I suppose was the sharp exchange of words between Colin Mant and Obi Ugwumba about the art of midfield play. Michael had replaced Mick O’Flynn midway through the half and did not seem to have fully recovered from the injury sustained before Christmas. We pressed hard for a third equaliser – even bringing out of the locker the lesser-spotted overhead kick in the Lads of the Village box from Ian Coles which was on target. We nearly got caught on the break by the Lads of the Village substitute, Albanian I think, with a still poor grasp of the offside rule, but Ian Coles was able to clear the ball before it trickled over the line. The final effort on goal was ours, in the dying seconds as the Lads of the Village keeper spilled a shot from Colin Brazier which Stephane Anelli was a whisker away from tucking away. That would have a fair shake from the football gods.
At the end both teams shook hands, after a well-contested game, refereed very fairly, and without a cross word or bad tackle in it. After tantric showers eight of us made our way to the Lads of the Village Public House where our hosts produced piping hot chicken nuggets, sausages and sausage rolls as well as ham sandwiches, much to the delight of Buffet Boa Nick Waller who paid his tribute. We took part in a raffle which was also won by one of the Lads of the Village lads.
Man of the match: Pete Harvey who took home three quarters of the twelve votes cast.
Man of the match: Pete Harvey