Sunday 26th February 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough soar after shaky start
Ten of our original opponents, Santos Vets, were attending a stag do this weekend which meant that there was an opportunity for plucky (I hesitate to say lucky) Eagles Fitter Fans to play us twice this season – this week, and next. We were also on neutral ground at the home of Catford Wanderers as both home pitches in Farnborough were in use. Moreover, we had a later kick off time of 11:00, and Val was doing the food not Pam. Did all these altered circumstances affect our play, in the first fifteen to twenty minutes, I hear you ask? No, we were poor and we were the lucky ones.
The playing surface was immaculate, conditions were a bit overcast but did brighten during the game and there was a fresh breeze which you felt if you stood still. In the week when Claudio Ranieri was sacked FOBG tactical genius Mick O’Flynn opted for a new formation with five in midfield and with our two most potent forwards on the bench. There was a starting role for Buffet Barrel Nick Waller who set a regional record for the number of pints consumed during two rugby matches yesterday afternoon, before a wind-assisted passage up the hill to Orpington station according to a reliable witness. Well almost a starting role – as Peter Harvey played the first three minutes at left back until Nick rolled out of the clubhouse.
Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Phil Anthony, Peter Harvey;
Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba, Sinisa Gracanin, Patrice Mongelard;
Referee: Mick Gearing.
Substitutes: Nick Waller, Kypros Michael.
Supporters: Freya, Kathleen and Thea Anthony and dog Caesar, Obi Ugwumba (Jr).
Strategist and DJ: Mick O’Flynn.
A mixture of Farnborough complacency, conservative play, over-passing and poor finishing gave the Eagles cause for initial optimism. We had a lot of the ball but did not do much with it. Instead in the first quarter of an hour with one lone forward the Eagles hit the post, and had the ball in the net before an offside call was upheld by tantric Mick Gearing. In the same period of time Ian Shoebridge had missed two gilt-edged chances from close range, and Andy Faulks too had reminded us that things were not as they used to be with him. I say missed but that would do the Eagles defence a disservice, in particular their goalkeeper who was outstanding throughout the match, and the other defenders who managed to get their bodies in the way when their keeper was beaten. It took an injury to tip the balance. Paul Parsons could not continue after pulling something big and Patrice Mongelard had to abandon his much longed for holding midfield role in the stampede (joke) to pick up the keeper’s gloves. Andy Faulks was not injured, not visibly so, but he came off at the same time and we switched formation to put our pair of raptors, Harvey and Michael, up front.
It did not take long for the complexion of the game to change with the pace we had injected. Within minutes we had edged ahead from a whipped corner from Peter Harvey which hit Simon Thomas’s forehead with force at point blank range (as Simon was moving his hair out of the way). The next goal was exquisite – a first time volley from Kypros Michael as he connected with a diagonal ball floated across the box from Simon Thomas. The volley made the pass look world class. A cross from the left was then sliced into his own net, by an Eagles defender but inexplicably, at least to the Farnborough contingent, the goal was ruled offside by Mick Gearing. I do not recall us making a fuss about that but even if we had I am not sure Mick would have listened, or heard even. The goals kept coming though. Pete Harvey guided a free kick low into the bottom corner after he had been interfered with from behind on the edge of the box. Some of our players closer to the action than your match reporter (now stranded on the opposite goal line) thought that Sinisa Gracanin had distracted the keeper with an attempted flick which turned into a neat dummy but Pete was not to be denied his goal. Before the half-time whistle he had doubled his tally, this time after good work by Kypros Michael who had forced his way into the box and unleashed a shot which the Eagles keeper could only parry into Peter Harvey’s path. 4-0 at half-time felt harsh but could have been worse if we had made the most of our very early opportunities.
The second half was equally one-sided but yet the Eagles could have had a couple of goals to counterbalance the three we added to the score. We had to wait a bit though before we could increase the gap. The Eagles keeper and a massed defence kept us at bay for quite a while. We still had not broken their resistance by the time Simon Thomas was replaced by Andy Faulks (Simon was back on later in the final stages for Ian Shoebridge). Andy went on to win a controversial penalty for us which was gobbled up by Peter Harvey (no jug avoidance there, no let’s be nice to badminton partner Pat and let him take the penalty – after all he had not expected to play three quarters of the game in goal today). We registered more goals in the last quarter of an hour – Kypros Michael added his second by converting a cross from Peter Harvey. Kypros had scored with his right foot – to the delight of the Paphos taxi drivers betting syndicate at odds of a 1000-1 against. Kypros was up to his old tricks again though as he embarked on a mazy run past five Eagles defenders to get the ball on his left foot before lashing it against the post. Ian Coles pointed out that Kypros had only one foot – in the same way I suppose that Ryan Giggs or Maradona had only one foot. Kypros asked me to add the Maradona reference as it would impress his wife. A wife who would have been unimpressed had she been there would have been Mrs Gracacin as husband Sinisa hit the crossbar from a yard out. She might have left the ground as a result in which case she would have missed his atonement as he scored our final goal after a Peter Harvey header from a corner had created confusion in the Eagles box.
At this point of the match report eagle-eyed readers would be right in pointing out that there was not much happening at the other end. They would be wrong. Patrice Mongelard had to be alert to get down to his right to get his hand to a low shot from inside the box. He then had to pull off a reflex save to keep out a header from his own defender Steve Blanchard. He saved the best until last as he parried a fierce twenty-yarder from the big Eagles centre half onto the post before calmly and nonchalantly collecting the rebound as if he had meant it.
The showers were bracing – enough to put Andy ‘Compo’ Faulks off having one, allegedly. The spread laid on by Val was copious and sumptuous – pizzas, sausages, chips, egg mayonnaise and cheese and onion sandwiches, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, cheddar slices and buttered French baguette. I’ll have more of the same next week please Val. Yes, we are back at the same ground but in order to accommodate live TV schedules (and the Eagles) we are kicking off at 14:00. I expect a tougher outing as more players will be available for the Eagles.
Man of the match: Obi Ugwumba (with one vote missing – his).
Man of the match: Michael Ugwumba