Sunday 23rd December 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough edge a tough encounter
Today’s opponents STC Sports Vets had beaten us 2-1 at our place in our first game of the season. So we knew they deserved respect, and that today’s match at their place with a squad reduced to twelve, on a heavy pitch in overcast conditions, would test our mettle. Mick O’Flynn was unable to join us because of a chest, his own I hasten to add. Michael Hills was the first to get to the ground, having woken up in Staines this morning (I think that is the right spelling). The return in goal of Matt Angelo was a blessing and he seemed to be in good spirits after a recent family funeral. When I asked “How was the funeral?” he replied “You would have loved the buffet, Pat” which the rest of the squad found hilarious.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Simon Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Chisa Mkala, Danny Mullins, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, Jay Hardy.
Substitute: Phil Anthony.
Supporter: Steve Hills.
Absent Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Both teams made a measured start. Early tackles made it clear this was a competitive fixture. Both defences were alert and much of the play was in midfield where we blended the muscular presence of Danny Mullins, Simon Harvey and Chisa Mkala with the guile of Waine Hetherington and the pace and touch of Simon Thomas. Both goalkeepers were relatively untroubled in the first quarter of an hour or so. The pitch though heavy was not inhibiting passing even if the clay stuck to one’s boots. The first half chances were ours, mostly from corners. Peter Harvey was in the wars today and we had an early fright when it was feared he had hurt his neck in a coming together. More of the play was taking place in the STC half but without end product. Neither goal had been breached when Patrice Mongelard was replaced by Phil Anthony after half an hour. It was not long after that – no connection between the two events, that we took the lead. Waine Hetherington threaded a ball for Jay Hardy to run on to and beat the STC keeper from close range. The STC keeper was certainly not a small man and Jay felt the contact as he stretched a leg just in time to slide the ball under the keeper’s body. We felt we deserved this lead which we preserved until half-time having withstood a couple of STC corners and long throws.
The second half was a much livelier affair. The few spectators got their money’s worth in goalmouth incidents today. I do not recall any wind and the pitch looked level but somehow STC pressed harder with fresh legs and took the fight to us. Matt Angelo, who does not do ordinary, made several saves that caught the eye. One such save, where he pushed a piledriver against the bar was certainly memorable but there was even better to come, even if Matt would have preferred a less painful memory. Simon Thomas preserved our advantage with a last-minute block on the line which left the opposition cursing their luck. There was more of that to come. We were now playing more on the break and we doubled our lead on the hour when Simon Thomas provided an emphatic finish from an acute angle having ghosted in at the far post to crown a move which we thought had died when Jay Hardy was stymied by the keeper.
Patrice Mongelard replaced Colin Mant just after the hour and was soon involved, with others, in another almighty scramble in our box. Matt Angelo caught a powerful point-blank shot where it hurt most. I resisted the “one careful owner, hardly used” joke. The time did not seem right somehow. Nor was it the right time for Chisa Mkala to give away a penalty when he diligently tracked, and ended, the run of rangy STC midfielder who looked like he was related to Yaya Toure. Despite Matt’s antics the penalty was converted expertly. It was certainly game on, Farnborough looking to increase our lead on the break and STC seeking to draw level.
Matt was involved not long after in saving a header which led to another bout of pinball in or box where STC were under the impression the ball had crossed the line in the melee that ensued but we believed with equal conviction it had not. The referee took our side in the absence of goal-line technology. That was still a talking point in the bar afterwards. Yet we had chances to put the game to bed. Jay Hardy, Chisa Mkala, Danny Mullins and Peter Harvey all had one on one chances that they would have converted on another day. The one from Peter in particular stood in the mind – a yard out, on the favourite left peg, ball guided into the bottom corner only to come off the base of the post, travel back across the goal to hit the keeper and trickle out. Not long before that Peter had been the recipient of a tackle that deserved the adjective agricultural on account of the scything action.
Tempers were getting frayed as the clock ticked. One particular feisty, vocal and combative STC full back stood out from the pack despite being a small man. I think as a general rule the smaller man tries harder. He was to cap the final whistle with an altercation with Peter Harvey which was unseemly in front of young spectators and not what the game deserved. The irony is that I gather he is a Spurs fan like Peter. Still he’ll be in a better mood tonight, as will Peter.
The facilities in the bar were top notch. The bar staff were friendly and engaging. Piping hot sausage rolls, roast potatoes and that Christmas favourite - pigs in blankets (referred to as “Manty under a duvet” by Peter Harvey) made a most welcome appearance with only six of us left from the Farnborough contingent (we do not often lose in the bar but we did today). I took some time to chat to the opposition – which some of the lads interpreted as a sausage or roast potato quest by a plastic melt, when in fact the responsibilities of management, resting solely on my shoulders today in Mick O’Flynn’s absence, meant that a bit of PR was needed after the way the game ended. Jay Hardy helped by signalling to the STC manager that he would be happy to invite them to take in a Vets Cup Competition which he is thinking of organising next season.
Man of the match – Matt Angelo, who put his crown jewels in the line of fire, and who had his own guardian angel today after the funeral we talked about.
Man of the match: Matt Angelo