Sunday 12th November 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Finkled Farnborough fade in final stages to lose 5-4 in game to remember
The cunning linguists among you will note the word finkled in the headline. I admit I made this word up. No it does not describe the latest sexual peccadillo in the Westminster Village. It is more innocent, though there are meanings of finkle out there which are less innocent. A sudden attack of good taste prevents me from elaborating. For the purposes of this match report - to be finkled is to lose several players due to injury specifically to fingers and ankles for the same match. Our finkled four were Sinisa Gracanin, Michael Hills, Kypros Michael and Simon Thomas – depriving us of much forward thrusting action. Moreover, the master thruster Peter Harvey (27 goals last season) was also missing on Remembrance Day duty – and before you ask, no he was not in the Korean War.
We had been due to play the Met Police Super Vets at our place in Farnborough but uncertainty about the availability of their players meant that alternative arrangements had to be considered. Fortuitously Riverside too had to look beyond their original injury-struck opponents (Ashburnham Wanderers). We were, if truth be told, not unhappy to be going to Riverside. In fact we had two Ashburnham players in our midst, the father and son duo of David and Josh Settle, who responded to our SOS (as had Jon Marks). Some of our players have very pleasant memories of the après-match in Eynsford. Readers of the match report for our Young Vets away match against Riverside last Sunday will have gone all moist at the remembrance of Mark Harrington’s description of the buffet served up at the Five Bells. Indeed the prospect of the pleasant company and a luxury buffet flushed out the Farnborough Buffetsaurus himself, Nick Waller, (like a salmon returning to its spawning ground).
Colin Brazier, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Jon Marks, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Obi Ugwumba, Waine Hetherington, Ian Shoebridge;
Substitutes: David and Josh Settle, Rob Faulkner
Referee: Jim St John (who kindly and generously waived his match fee)
Linesman: Michael Ugwumba
Supporters: Freya, Kathleen and Thea Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Leanne Bennett, Michael Hills, Nick Waller
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
We kicked downhill in the first half. The direction of play matters on the Riverside pitch where you would be forgiven for including crampons with your usual choice of moulded or studs. This felt like a good idea barely a minute into the game when a sprightly George Kleanthous made the most of an Ian Shoebridge intervention to steer the ball home from just inside the box, giving us our first goal at Harrow Meadow for three and a half years. Our delight did not last long though as a Riverside player nicknamed “Fish” wriggled free at the far post to put the ball in our net barely a minute later as we were still getting to grips with organising our five-man defence. Five minutes later Riverside had edged ahead with a powerful left foot shot from outside the box from one of their dangerous midfielders eager to join the attack. We then went on to play our best football. George Kleanthous equalised after his own shot was spilled by the keeper and he was quickest to the rebound. Not long after Colin Brazier’s cultured left foot had restored our lead with a crisp shot from outside the box as he moved in from the left back position to latch on to a Riverside clearance. The technique was perfect, the intention clear and the reward was satisfying for a player who does not score mundane goals but plays fewer games than we would wish.
We had a two-minute break at 11:00 for Remembrance Sunday which was impeccably observed.
The heavy pitch started to take its toll. Jay Hardy made way for David Settle (and could not return later on). Colin Brazier and Jon Marks were replaced by Phil Anthony and Rob Faulkner. Waine Hetherington dropped to left back while Rob Faulkner gave us glimpses of his football brain and movement. We had a scare when an Ian Coles clearing header hit the underside of our bar but Matt Angelo was able to claw the ball out despite the muscular attentions of a Riverside forward. We were certainly well worth our lead at half-time. The question was would a one goal lead be sufficient against the slope (aka the Riverside twelfth man).
Within five minutes of the restart a moment of pure brilliance and tenacity from Waine Hetherington from the left back position had created the opportunity for George Kleanthous to register his third and our fourth with a crisp shot from a central position inside the Riverside box. Waine’s hunger for the ball was probably the equal of Waller’s for the buffet at that point. I was not the only one who thought that at 4-2 up we would finally get one over Riverside at their place. But in the end the heavy pitch, the slope, more injuries and the resilience of our opponents gave them the decisive edge. Ian Shoebridge left the fray with a pulled hamstring as Jay Hardy had done earlier. Rob Faulkner also came off, more as a precaution on the heavy surface. Patrice Mongelard too sat out the last twenty minutes or so. The final quarter of the game was not great viewing from a Farnborough point of view despite the tonic of Nick Waller’s appearance. We had to spend some of the time looking for Mick O’Flynn’s phone so I missed some of the action.
Put simply we had trouble establishing a presence in the Riverside half and we could not always clear the ball as well, or as far as we wanted, or move the line of play further up the pitch. There were more and more incursions into our box. Waine Hetherington pushed up front to support George Kleanthous and Josh Settle brought some deft touches to our game but in truth we had lost the momentum despite the huge amount of work being done by David Settle and Obi Ugwumba in the heart of midfield. With fifteen minutes left a needlessly conceded Riverside corner, expertly swung in by probably (I say probably, Waine and Colin B to note please as I do not want any more complaining emails in the week even if they are not always sent to the correct address) the best left foot in the game, bamboozled both Phil Anthony and Matt Angelo at the near post and the ball came off both of them without a Riverside player within earshot and our lead had been halved. How Phil will have wished he had a couple more inches to play with at that point. OG had struck again but this time against us. This gave the home team even more momentum and ambition, and they equalised soon after from six yards following some pinball in the Farnborough area.
The final goal of the game, Riverside’s fifth and the winning goal, was like a car crash in slow motion. We must have had three or four opportunities to clear the ball, made several tackles as evidenced by the Farnborough bodies on the ground, and yet still the ball clung to a Riverside boot and it was toe-poked against the base of the post and into the net and that was it in a most memorable game on Remembrance Sunday 2017..
Man of the match: George Kleanthous who was a shade more immense than Waine Hetherington today, with a sharp hat-trick of great quality.
The 84-year old Riverside resident, proudly wearing his poppy, who watched part of the game, and who took the ideal position for the buffet also deserves a mention. He remembered breaking his tibia on the same pitch seventy years ago (almost as long as Phil Anthony has been alive) but his love of life, football and sandwiches was undimmed. He got the better of Waller in the buffet and not many people can say that.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous