Sunday 27th January 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough back to winning ways and with style
The prevailing mood for this match was to bounce back from last week’s reverse, and more importantly to rediscover our brand of football which can best be described as sweat, smiles and short passes. Once again numbers dwindled overnight – Danny Mullins had failed to convince Mrs Mullins to let him off parenting duties, and Obi Ugwumba injured was.
So, it was the bare twelve on a cold blustery day which kept dry for the game at the Stone Recreation Ground in Dartford. The big pitch looked inviting even under overcast skies. The hot teas from the burger van were most welcome.
Michael Hills, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Simon Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Chisa Mkala, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson;
Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey.
Substitutes: Sinisa Gracanin.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
The first five minutes or so of the game would certainly not have presaged the final score. Lads of the Village moved the ball well particularly in their defence and only encountered difficulty once they ventured into our half. Once that initial period passed the flow of the game was inexorably towards our opponents’ goal. We scored five goals in a twenty minute spell to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The movement, passing and connectivity were good. We just needed the clinical edge to our finishing. After ten minutes Jay Hardy squared the ball back for Peter Harvey to produce a collector’s item, a rare spotted right-footed strike that beat the keeper from just inside the box. A few minutes later Jay Hardy was back in action, this time on the right, as his attempted square ball in the six-yard box was unintentionally diverted into his own net by one of the two tall Lads defenders.
Gordon Thompson was next to shine with two assists for quick Simon Thomas strikes from close range. Our third came from the Lads' keeper spilling a shot from Gordon into Simon’s path and he made the tap-in look nonchalant. For his second Simon appeared to show more concentration as he drove the ball low into the bottom corner from close range having been released by Gordon.
The half-hour was about to elapse. I know because I was going to come off for Sinisa Gracanin when we were awarded a penalty. I thought the referee had missed the moment when Chisa Mkala was taken from behind as he shaped to tap the ball home. But to his credit the honest Lads defender involved made the referee’s mind for him. I was getting changed on the line when Peter Harvey had to take the same penalty twice (scoring both times). Despite further opportunities we could not grow the score. At the other end Chris Jablonski had relatively little to do. I do not recall a single Lads corner in the half (or the second one come to think of it).
The half-time talk was redundant really. A few of the players went to relieve themselves. I think some of them had failed to spot the woman sitting in a silver Audi parked by the pitch. Gordon Thompson was afraid she might have got his number but I gather there was not much for her to see.
We started the second half where we left off. In fact, I think it is fair to say we created more chances in the second half than the first. Just when I feared we had all caught a severe dose of Kyprositis, Jay hardy struck with an acrobatic finish from one of the many corners we won in the half. The keeper had pulled off two point blank saves from headers in a crowded box (including from a marauding Michael Hills) but as the ball popped out Jay Hardy was there a yard out by the far post. He uncoiled himself horizontally like a deadly ginger scorpion and the net bulged.
6-0 became 6-1 when Lads of the Village were awarded a penalty after Simon Harvey was deemed to have interfered with the Lads full back who had overlapped energetically and arrived in our box. Chris Jablonski dived the right way, got a hand to the spot kick ball but could not keep it out. He was disappointed, said he was expecting something harder, and was surprised. It would be churlish to begrudge Lads of the Village their goal. Their effort and spirit deserved it.
Michael Hills came off on the hour having pulled something. Patrice Mongelard rejoined the defence to cope with the rare Lads forays in our box. They just could not get the numbers into our box to trouble us.
We ‘won’ the second half with a sweet strike from Gordon Thompson. He spotted a Lads defender was slow to clear the ball in the box. Gordon was on it in a flash, nicked the ball, glided past the defender and flashed a crisp low drive into the bottom corner.
We could have had more goals in the last quarter of an hour. That we did not score more than seven today is down in large part to the Lads keeper. If we could vote for their Man of the Match it would be him by a mile. It is not nice being beaten 5-0 at half-time at home in front of a crowd and there was an undercurrent of feeling amongst our opponents that we had packed our side with young players. I could understand where they were coming from and it is not something we have enjoyed when other teams have done it to us. The truth is that we took a team down there that was not markedly younger or older than our normal side – the combined ages of all twelve Farnborough players today was 565 years – giving us an average age of 47 years; and we were missing regulars like Phil Anthony (61), Mick O’Flynn (59) and Colin Brazier (60). Moreover, we did not have with us Ian Lyons and Kypros Michael who just look ancient and present a reassuring sight to the opposition.
Five of us made it to the Lads of the Village pub to be showered by our hospitable hosts with hot sausages, chicken nuggets, chips and an array of sandwiches including the best egg mayonnaise sandwiches I have had a lot of in a long time. We were well beaten in the bar and we missed out on the raffle too. Simon Thomas was stiffening up after the game but had to wait until all the food was eaten before I could get him home to compliment wife Amanda on her hair. I drove back on the M25 with Jay Hardy in my rear-view mirror shaking his wrists in a rhythmic fashion.
Understandably the whole team felt better about our performance today. Man of the match votes were spread among the players but the one that caught the eye the most was Gordon Thompson.
Man of the match: Gordon Thompson