Sunday 26th March 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough mums happier than Catford mums
A 10:15 kick-off, on Mother’s Day, and on the day the clocks went forward all added to the degree of difficulty today. Of course, it was the same for our opponents. We were missing Kypros Michael and Peter Harvey – piles of goals between them this season. We could not be sure if Andy Faulks had finally learned to tell the time, or if he could remember where he had left his car the night before. We were making additions to the squad late yesterday, and had some subtractions too, as early as this morning. We were also aware that Catford were a much improved outfit, and had added to their squad. On a bright, blustery and sunny day we were expecting a tight game.
Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Mick O’Flynn, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant, Obi Ugwumba;
Simon Thomas, Andy Faulks.
Substitute: Ian Lyons.
Supporter and linesman: Obi Ugwumba Jr.
The early chances fell to Catford. In fact we had reason to be thankful for Dave Salako’s interventions as Catford twice found the woodwork in the opening quarter of an hour, including once via Dave’s hands. We could see though that there was something to get out of the game. We had the incisive running of Andy Faulks and Simon Thomas, and just needed the service from the midfield and defence. Catford lost a key player early doors and some of their early momentum faded as we brought their excellent keeper more into the game. He made some telling saves but could do little after about twenty minutes when Patrice Mongelard provided the inspirational through ball (or panicked clearance depending on Andy’s optic) for Andy Faulks to run on and round the keeper before squeezing the ball home from a tight angle. On the half-hour Ian Lyons came on for Patrice Mongelard. We continued to defend well as we had to, and probed a lot down the right where Mick O’Flynn, Colin Mant and Andy Faulks operated. Our midfield quartet of George Kleanthous, Obi Ugwumba, Colin Mant and Sinisa Gracanin formed a tight ring and were immense today – they seemed to have had some extra motivation.
The referee was excellent today though he came under pressure, mostly from the home team as many decisions were challenged as frustrations mounted. We wondered afterwards how Catford had failed to equalise. There was one glaring miss from three yards which put the ball into the tennis courts. Their long throw-ins were causing us problems and we had to defend in numbers. Catford had one athletic forward, Orrin, who was proving an awkward customer, though well-marshalled by Ian Coles and Steve Blanchard. He was hungry, rangy, all legs and arms, physical but fair, though he had a lot to say and I felt this took something from his game. He wanted as he told everyone, to do the talking, in fact he liked talking, but he could have been so much more fluent if he had let his football do the talking.
At half-time Catford brought on an even more dangerous individual: quick, skillful, much tattooed, with well-groomed facial hair and a lovely sparkling stud earring much admired later by “pensioner” Blanchard (as they exchanged pleasantries after Dave Salako had been barged by said forward “doing his job”). Despite this extra danger we took greater control of the game. Just before the hour Simon Thomas eased our nerves with a nonchalant flick to steer the ball past the Catford keeper after Andy Faulks had spotted his run into space. On the hour Mick O’Flynn had reached the limit of his calves, and Ian Lyons was back on to add weight to our defence.
Although both teams were full of effort and commitment there was not much goalmouth action to report in the last twenty-five minutes or so. Two incidents stand out though. First the goal that gave us a cushion to sit on, as our top striker Peter Harvey would have appreciated. Our players and fans know that Obi Ugwumba has a mule of a piledriver in him and that when he hits them it is best to not get in the way because the ball stays hit. Picture the scene – thirty yards out, in space, Michael receives the ball from Sinisa Gracanin. He controls the ball, turns, faces the goal and lengthens his stride to advance towards the Catford box. An opponent tries to knock Michael off the ball but is out-muscled by our “Joe Frazier” – the right foot is pulled back and released, the contact is clean, the ball does not rise too high, there is a bit of a bend on the trajectory and the net bulges – with the otherwise competent Catford keeper transfixed on his line. This was a Mother’s Day special from Michael, with red roses, chocolate truffles and vintage champagne.
At the other end with about five minutes left the inked one found himself in splendid isolation in the box, with a strong suspicion of offside – but there was no debate about the quality of the finish as he whipped the ball past Dave into the roof of the net from a tight angle. That was almost the last action of the game as the players, including Roger French in Catford colours, shook hands. We could hear Orrin was still talking as we got back to our changing room. The showers were slightly warmer than for our last two visits.
Sadly, there was no buffet spread to describe for you, or for Buffet Mother Lode Nick Waller, today. At is was Mother’s Day Val was being treated to a day out by her family, well deserved I am sure. We still spent a fair amount of time in the bar, munching on crisps and digesting the news that Colin Mant was coming on our football tour to Limburg at the end of May. He had decided to treat Mrs Mant today by announcing he was going on tour. Now we just need to find someone willing to room with him. We noticed he was thick as two tittering schoolboys sitting on a pile of dirty magazines, with Ian Lyons, sharing a keen interest in Terry’s chocolate oranges, and artistic gymnastics.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin whose mum is 80 next year, and who can be very proud of her boy today.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin