Sunday 22nd October 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough snatch draw from jaws of despair
Who could forget Sunday 10 September 2017 when CUACO Vets won 1-0 at our place, after we hit the woodwork four times and missed not one but two penalties? Today was our chance to put that right; however, any sense we might have had that what happened six weeks ago was a fluke, was quickly knocked out of us, and we had to confront the reality of our decline, juxtaposed alongside the progress made by our opponents.
Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier, Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Michael Hills, Obi Ugwumba;
Kypros Michael, Simon Thomas.
Substitutes: Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Colin Mant, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Shoebridge.
Supporters: Leanne Bennett, Ian Lyons, Obi Ugwumba (linesman).
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
The first thing that struck us at the Old Dunstonians Sports Club in BR3 3SS today was how long the grass was. I know it has rained a bit recently but to football conspiracy theorists this over-fertilised and hirsute surface had been prepared to stifle our passing game. So thought the fantasists among us because it is the same for both teams and these days you get more passes in a tough Mastermind round than in 90 minutes of our football, or as it was today, 80.
We started well enough, carried the greater initial threat even though the cutting edge was not quite there. The first two or three corners were ours. The CUACO defence was robust, very tactile and occasionally on the referee’s blind side. No game against CUACO is complete without us hitting the bar and Michael Hills duly obliged with a twenty-yarder. CUACO were looking to hit us on the break and make the most of set pieces.
One particular worry we had was that our Paphos Express, Kypros Michael, had morphed into the Paphos Escargot. Some say that the lethargy and poor touch were down to a reaction to Man Utd’s defeat yesterday. If true, then I will start praying for Man U draws (and this something from a Liverpool fan).
After twenty minutes we were punished. A looping cross was pumped into the box after we had headed a corner clear. The ball was fed into what would normally be defined as the corridor of uncertainty between keeper and defence but today we extended the space into a sea of uncertainty as Dave Salako stayed rooted to his line and called for a defender who had moved away five minutes ago, it seemed. The ball was bundled in from a yard out despite Michael Hills’ attempt to clear the danger. This felt very much like the game on 10 September. There was a pattern forming. We would have more possession but do little with it whilst CUACO soaked the pressure and frustrated us. Frustration would boil over into some unseemly behaviour later which tested the referee.
We made five substitutions to reinvigorate our game as Obi Ugwumba, Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard, Michael Hills and Simon Thomas made way for, and onto, our bench. It nearly paid off when Jay Hardy ploughed into the box, with Peter Harvey drawing defenders away, to find room for a shot from the edge of the box which the CUACO keeper parried with his legs. Jay had paused to admire his shot and by the time he got to the rebound the scene had got crowded and the opportunity was gone.
The second half continued the pattern. Accentuated perhaps because we pressed harder and Dave Salako had even less to do. Jay Hardy caused some alarm when he had to come off early in the second half with a sore head to be replaced by Simon Thomas but thankfully Jay felt better later. As time ticked away our frustration grew. There was a tangle at one point when Peter Harvey and the rugged CUACO centre half tumbled to the ground and CUACO arms wrapped themselves round Peter’s throat. Calmer heads were quickly on the scene, including Mick O’Flynn's who pointed out that kids were watching the game and that supposed adults should behave better. There were kids on the pitch too I thought. This was a gritty aspect of the game which I do not recall from past encounters but the good thing was that this did not lead to any afters.
CUACO could smell the three points and defended in numbers hoping to run the reduced clock down. This is when the chasing teams feel keenly any delays in retrieving the ball from brambles, restarting the play with goal kicks, trundling to get the ball behind the goals etc. It is called managing the game and I suppose we have all done it. We made more substitutions and went looking for an equaliser. It took a long time to come – about five minutes only were left when Michael Hills blocked a CUACO clearance on the edge of their box to tee up Ian Shoebridge to curl a delightful instinctive left foot low shot into the corner of the net. It was fully deserved but it was certainly stressful getting there.
There is no buffet porn for you this week dear readers, unless you want to read about fifteen blokes and a few packets of nuts (and crisps). Next season we’ll take our own sandwiches when we visit the same ground. Talking of food – I read in last week’s BBC football gossip column that former jockey A P McCoy said Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil was “not worth feeding, never mind paying a contract”. I hope nobody ever says that about me. I could murder a curry I thought as I left the ground.
Man of the match: Eight players garnered votes but the winner by a clear grey head was Mick O’Flynn for a performance of great exuberance and verve that belied his 78, sorry, 58 years.
Man of the match: Mick O’Flynn