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Match Report

Sunday 2nd September 2018


Senior Vets
George Kleanthous
1 - 0
Erith Vets

By Patrice Mongelard

Farnborough find key to success

The hot summer made a reappearance today at Farrow Fields, home of the mighty Farnborough Old Boys Guild Senior Vets. What a lovely day for football – for anything really. After last week’s triumph I was not the only one wondering if we could deliver the same level of performance. As the true football fan knows the performance matters more than the result. Talking of result there was no need to remind the team that we lost the corresponding match 3-2 last season. We had to respect our opponents but we also wanted to play without fear.

Starting XI:

Rob Faulkner;
Michael Hills, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Chisa Mkala, Danny Mullins, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.

Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Ian Lyons, Ian Shoebridge, Obi Ugwumba.

Supporters: Terry Bear, Neil Connelly, Jay Hardy, Tony Harvey, Mick O’Flynn, Leanne MacDonald, David Orji, Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Refereee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Director of Football: Mick(aldinho) O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.

We started with the same formation as last week and with many of the same players. We settled quickly and saw more of the ball. Erith did not push too many players forward but defended robustly and in numbers – a pattern of play that was largely unchanged for the whole game. The opening quarter of an hour did not really bring any clear scoring opportunities for either side. Then our midfield craftsman Sinisa Gracanin created time and space on the edge of the Erith box to unleash a right foot drive that smacked against the post. Soon afterwards Peter Harvey found himself at the end of a cross from the left, unmarked in the six-yard box and his header, more cushioned than forceful, drifted just wide. These were encouraging signs, and once again our system worked well. Rob Faulkner in our goal was not really quizzed by the opposition and all he had to do was to distribute the ball well from goal kicks. We forced several corners but nothing came of them. The Erith keeper was not huge but he was agile, with good hands and had a seasoned defence in front of him.

On the half-hour we made four changes with Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant, Danny Mullins and Chisa Mkala making way for the four substitutes. If we had any concerns about unsettling the side these were unfounded as the new performers slotted in seamlessly. This said, it looked for five minutes or so that Erith were turning the tide. Ian Lyons (who feels he never gets a mention in the match report – you could say he wants more inches) expertly guided a clearance just wide of our post to create a frisson in the Farnborough crowd, and give Erith their only corner of the game five minutes from half-time. There had been no breakthrough for either team when the half-time whistle went. There had been time for Peter Harvey to rue another missed close range header from a peach of a cross from Sinisa Gracanin. Peter’s dad Tony appeared shortly before half time but on this occasion had not missed anything. Peter had.

As the second half got under way Colin Mant who had performed the duties of water carrier found himself standing next to Patrice Mongelard when a high clearance was propelled in their direction. Patrice was able to bring the ball under instant control with one deft movement of his right foot in a crowd of people. I pointed out to Manty that this was what football analysts call the Velcro touch, not something that the football gods had included in his allocation of talents.

Simon Thomas exited the stage at half-time with Chisa Mkala taking on the role of chief tormentor on the right. Chisa had several moments in the game but the one that sticks in the mind most vividly is what I would call his Ronnie Rosenthal moment – something which Liverpool fan Chisa will treasure. As a Liverpool fan myself it is hard to relive that memory but being plastic makes it less real somehow. Imagine the scene – Chisa has broken through in the Erith box, shrugged off the encumbrance of defenders, disposed of the keeper, the goal is empty with Peter Harvey parallel to him a yard away. Chisa could have lashed the ball in, walked it in, rolled it in, squared the ball to Peter but these are not the ways of the artist. Instead he went for a nonchalant flick-cum-hook with the outside of his foot to lift the ball over the bar. Someone said later that at least Ronnie hit the bar. In fairness there were other players who missed good scoring opportunities in the second half. George Kleanthous took an extra touch a yard from a gaping goal which allowed the Erith keeper to smother the shot. Peter Harvey flashed a low drive against the base of the post. To the neutral there was only one team likely to score although we did get a timely reminder of the quality in Erith’s ranks when their darting forward forced a good save from Rob Faulkner’s foot.

Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant and Danny Mullins were back in the fray on the hour with Waine Hetherington, Sinisa Gracanin and Michael Hills having done their work with great diligence and savoir-faire for the day. Our goal when it came on seventy-five minutes was a thing of beauty – with six players involved in the move. Picture this - Ian Shoebridge back to Patrice Mongelard, the ball is moved to Colin Mant who rolls in into space to Ian Shoebridge; there follows an exchange of quickfire passes between Peter Harvey and Ian before Ian carries the ball deep into the Erith box. Ian’s first shot is parried by the Erith keeper but Ian takes ownership of the rebound before coolly rolling the ball across to George Kleanthous who this time makes no mistake to register his first success in the race for golden boot. Could we have had more goals? Should we? Even Erith would not have begrudged us another. A thirty-yarder from Michael Hills (back on for a tiring but honest Phil Anthony) destined for the top corner brought a fingertip save from the Erith keeper that was made for the cameras. In the dying moments Peter Harvey drove a fierce shot against the angle of post and bar. Even Danny Mullins, with good feet for a big man, threatened to disturb the onion bag with a neat control and pirouette on a sixpence in the six-yard box.

Referee Paul Parsons inserted two water breaks during the game which were very welcome. The rest of the time he let the game flow. Once again, the game was played in excellent spirit.

Fifty bread rolls and assorted sundries were blown away like an autumn mist in the afternoon sunshine.

Jay Hardy tried to help with the pre-match arrangements but found it a challenge to locate the keys to the top goals – a condition which seemed to afflict the whole club. Jay expects to be back playing next Sunday, if selected.

On his way out, Mick O’Flynn dropped an unopened pack of batteries for his hearing aid – perhaps inadvertently revealing the key to an enduring mystery. The lads kindly continued my education in the life of a real football fan. The sacred artefact I was given today was a real match ticket for the Burton Albion v AFC Wimbledon match played less than 24 hours ago (3-0 to Burton Albion – attendance 2,814 – cost of ticket £22). I can think of one way of saving £22, or spending it on the Mrs.

Man of the match – George Kleanthous, back from premature demise last Sunday with a performance full of heart, effort and endeavour. If only the team he supports could have some of George’s spirit. I will not name them but all I would say is that a point would be nice.

Man of the match: George Kleanthous