Sunday 24th September 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Double Trouble as Senior Vets Fail Again
One half of the management duo returned to relieve Peter and Colin at the helm, with Pat still sunning himself in Mexico. It was for Mick O’Flynn to really soothe our battered and bruised egos after a hideous start to the season, with no wins from the first five games. Whether we could unlock the West Farleigh defence to make it sixth time lucky was to be seen, but the first hurdle to negotiate was the gate to the car park, with Waine’s car parked in front of it. Gary Fentiman was one of the earlier arrivals and it was great to see the big man back for an all too rare appearance, hopefully not the last this season.
As time ticked on towards the 10.30 kick-off, with all of our squad assembled outside the said car park, concerns grew whether the fixture was going to be played at all. The team brain cell, Simon (see, he’s not just a pretty face), then revealed that the fixture was scheduled for an 11 o'clock kick-off on the board outside their clubhouse. The newly crowned brain of Farnborough then tried the gate to the car park to find it wasn’t locked so we all streamed in. We of course admonished Waine for not trying the gate although, as a landlord, he may be more used to lock-ins than lock-outs! The clubhouse was also unlocked so we made ourselves at home while we waited. The strong early-autumn sun was more July than late September and the squad was assembled as follows;
Mick O’Flynn, Ian Coles, Sinisa Gracanin and Colin Mant;
Simon Thomas, Peter Harvey, Obi Ugwumba, Waine Hetherington;
Des Lindsay and Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Jay Hardy, Michael Hills and Mark Kendrick.
Supporters: Michael Hills’ mate and Obi Ugwumba Jnr running the line.
We started off by trying to keep things tight, which proved effective. The shape was good and when we didn’t have the ball we defended in numbers. West Farleigh enjoyed a lot of possession but each attack was thwarted, with Deano not getting the space to exploit. We were intent on catching them on the break, with the pace of the Pathos Express. However Kyp’s stabilisers on his boots kept failing and he spent more time on the grass than on his feet. As Simon sagely observed at half-time, there has to be someone within 10 yards to be fouled. Des had a gilt-edged chance to put us ahead, but his shot after getting in a premium position failed to trouble the Farleigh keeper.
We had applied some pressure, winning a couple of corners and pressing West Farleigh into rushing passes and giving the ball away. On around 25 minutes Simon was given space to, in cricket parlance, put the ball in the corridor of uncertainty. With Farnborough players in attendance the Farleigh defender could only head powerfully, with Waller-like panache, into his own net. It was a lead we arguably deserved, not necessarily on the balance of play but in the way we had stuck to our prescribed tactics and work rate, each player giving their all.
We changed things on 30 minutes with Jay, Michael Hills and Mark coming on for Waine, Simon and Michael U. They also made changes, crucially bringing on a youthful (although everyone looks youthful at our age!) left winger who began to make runs behind our defence and Michael Hills did a lot of tracking to restrict his progress. Gary was rarely troubled so far, which is an event in itself in this game. Waine exited only for 5 minutes as Des went limp (or limping. What’s the difference?) and Waine was then relieved himself by Simon. With half-time upon us Farleigh humped the ball towards Deano and Sini, in a centre-back role, took a fatal touch. With Gary unable to gather the ball which ricocheted between him, Sini and Deano, the latter prodded the ball home to bring parity. It was literally the last kick of the half and the whistle blew immediately after we took the centre. It wasn't the last kick then...(ed.).
The second half brought more good football from us and we were giving Farleigh a good game, although they began to stretch us on their large pitch. Their nippy winger had switched flanks and was seeing a lot of the ball. We failed to heed the warnings from our previous games and started to push our back line too far up. A ball was put over the top for Deano, who was strolling back from an offside position, for which we appealed, but Deano was not interested. Michael Junior rightly kept the flag down as their now left winger (Karim) raced onto the ball and finished smartly past Gary. At this point we should give a special mention (and thanks) to Michael Junior who accompanies his Pa to games, selflessly running the line, sometimes getting fearful abuse from the opposition – even called a cheat – which is undeserved as he calls it as he sees it. It was good to hear the Farleigh players complementing him on his correct decision, a decision that was impossible for us to argue.
This spurred us on and we intensified our attacks, moving the ball well. We made our final two substitutions with Waine and Michael coming back for Mick and Kyp. Jay broke forward and caused a melee in the Farleigh box, with two defenders having to prevent him from getting off a shot from close range, but in doing so one defender scooped the ball away with his hand and the very fair Farleigh ref blew for a penalty. There was a delay and much concern as Jay lay prone for some time, having to be assisted off the pitch in much pain. Fortunately the later prognosis looked less serious, but the knee injury may take a little time to recover from. Kyp came on to replace him and Peter Harvey stepped up to share top spot for the golden boot with ‘OG’, despatching the penalty confidently.
There was to be no happy ending though and the defensive high line and lack of pressure on the ball in midfield proved our undoing again and Farleigh bagged two quick goals. Firstly Deano was played in to round Gary and Karim was put through to slot across Gary into the far corner, giving the Farleigh pair a double apiece and they were both the thorn in our side today – hence the headline. It was a harsh scoreline, as lopsided as the pitch we had played on one could suggest as we had given a good account of ourselves, but our few mistakes were punished. Like other teams we had already faced this season, Farleigh possessed a clinical edge in front of goal (the CUACO goal aside) and if we could have taken our chances today, much like our previous games, our wins column would perhaps be looking healthier. Sadly, football is cruel and we remain winless.
Nevertheless we were made welcome at the Good Intent, a short drive from the ground. Sausages, triple cooked chips and nuggets were washed down with drinks of choice. The mood was not one of doom and gloom as we had played well and we must lift ourselves for Belvedere next, a team that we can match on our day, if we can negotiate the slope. Des’ jazz-pants attracted attention from one lady, who may have been the Belgian Bananarama’s mum, although it did not deter our annual subs dodger from rubbing inside his trouser pockets vigorously.
Eight players were awarded Man of the Match votes today, perhaps reflecting the effort everyone gave. It was Pete Harvey though, our Golden Boot holder, who was asked to sacrifice his normal place up front to run the FOBG engine room that came top of the octet.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey