Sunday 9th October 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Climax Early and Late in Sunday Morning Glory
We are always up for this game against opponents who are no longer a soft touch, on a fantastic pitch in a wondrous historic setting. Injuries having taken their toll early in the season we were carrying a few walking wounded but hoped we had enough big guns to enhance our performance. We were in our away kit, a sort of Viagra blue if you like. On a beautiful Sunday morning in front of James Wyatt’s Royal Artillery Barracks off Ha Ha Road in SE18 we arranged our forces like this.
Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Phil Anthony;
Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge, Kypros Michael;
Pete Harvey, Des Lindsay.
Substitutes: Rob Faulkner, Simon Harvey.
Supporters: Max Harvey, Obi Ugwumba Jr (also linesman).
Strategist and cameo appearance: Mick O’Flynn.
It looked like Inter Vyagra too had a bit of a recruitment crisis, and they drafted a couple of cadets in but we did not mind. They also supplied an excellent referee who was fair and got no trouble at all from any of the players from both sides. In fact the game was played in excellent spirit, and there were some very sporting moments when players took a knock, or when corners and free kicks were conceded.
We took advantage of the breeze to apply the early pressure and there had been hardly any foreplay before we notched our first goal. I think it was after only five minutes and from the first corner we forced. Pete Harvey’s left foot corner arrowed in on goal and the young keeper must have misread the flight of the ball as he got a hand to it but could not prevent the ball from entering the net. This was to be the last and only mistake from the Inter Vyagra keeper and he certainly made up for that early error later. This was an unexpected bonus and we braced ourselves for a reaction, in particular from the two nippy Inter Vyagra forwards; however, as all forwards are fond of saying it is all about the service and we had a good measure of control in the midfield in spite of the youngest and flashiest player on show wearing the home colours of orange and black. Inter Vyagra could not penetrate our defence and we looked the team most likely to score again, either from a corner, or an incision into their box from our left wing wizard Kypros Michael. Twice he was released with clear runs on goal which he carried deep into the Inter Vyagra box before shooting over from three or four yards out. You could say the excitement had got to him, a bit more control and composure, a less premature finish, and we could have been looking at the joy of six today.
I recall only one corner for Inter Vyagra in the first half (I conceded it) whereas we had several at the other end. From one of those Colin Mant had drifted in to “cause havoc in the box” as he described it later, lathering himself with Lynx Excite in the shower, and he hooked the ball narrowly wide. Obi Ugwumba and Des Lindsay made way for Simon Harvey and Rob Faulkner on the half hour and the flow of the game continued as before. Rob was unlucky when he crashed a close range header against the underside of the bar soon after arriving on the scene.
The absence of a second goal was a concern raised in our half-time talk (but (counter-intuitively perhaps) we still took Pete Harvey off temporarily as Des Lindsay got back on. Inter Vyagra had the players up front to capitalise on mistakes and we needed that cushion. The half did not start well for me personally as I was carrying an injury and had to come off. Still Mrs M thought my 50 minutes were a triumph of mind over matter. Pete Harvey was back on quickly doing what he does best and we regained our cutting edge up front whilst Simon Harvey dropped back to stiffen our defence. Obi Ugwumba would add muscle to the midfield ten minutes or so later when he replaced Rob Faulkner and was seen making one or two powerful runs in the Inter Vyagra box, with opposition players bouncing off the brick edifice that Michael is.
On the hour, Lynx Mant was to get his reward. From one of the several corners we were to force in that half Des Lindsay headed the ball down and up for a conversion until Colin Mant hooked the ball inside the net this time. Elated and dishevelled Colin fancifully described his move as a bicycle kick, and for a moment the dubious goals committee thought it might have to adjudicate as Kypros thought that the ball had brushed against one of his follicles after leaving Colin’s boot. There was much relief all round. We had a number of chances to edge further ahead but the Inter Vyagra keeper came into his own – pulling off several saves, including a point blank one from Des Lindsay who had shown eel-like properties in matters not just pecuniary, to escape the attentions of his marker and create space for a shot.
I am not sure if we got complacent and thought it was only a matter of time before we would score again. Instead we had a reminder from Inter Vyagra that there was life in the old dog yet as their two nippy forwards combined to pull one back. At that point I will be honest we were a tad anxious – the sun had gone in, the skies had darkened, and we were still looking vainly for that third goal that would surely see the game out. At one point Pete Harvey concluded that the only way we were going to score from the excellent crosses he kept raining into the box was if he could get himself at the end of his own crosses (that observation came after an attempted Colin Mant header at the far post whose geometry defies description). The Kypros Michael/Pete Harvey combination is starting to prove to be our most potent weapon and this time Kypros was able to apply the climax the pass from Pete deserved by wrong-footing the Inter Vyagra keeper. As there were less than five minutes to go there was time for a cameo appearance from Mick O’Flynn before the final whistle to add rigor mortis, sorry rigour, to our midfield.
The mood in the bar was friendly and relaxed as our hosts produced a vast amount of sausages, mini sausage rolls, French bread, cheese, Branston pickle, mustard and other condiments to feed the troops, in the absence of Buffet Big Bertha Nick Waller. Money was collected from all but one slippery customer, and man of the match votes were cast democratically, without the sort of scuffles seen in the corridors of the European Parliament.
Man of the match: Pete Harvey – who was involved in our best moves, and did more than most to earn a full game next week.
Man of the match: Pete Harvey