Sunday 23rd May 2021
By Patrice Mongelard
Eight goals, four penalties – what more could you want?
The heavy rains this week had raised the prospect that I might have to give Meryl Clarke a probe, about using a pitch at Norman Park but in the end the top pitch at Farnborough was fine, even took a stud, which is a surprise for mid to late May but then again, the weather this month has been off the chart. Our opponents were playing only their second game of the season, compared with our 19th. At least your boys will be fresh, I pointed out, to the Inter the Valley manager.
We mustered fourteen players with late drop-outs. Today we had a new goalkeeper after Matt Angelo was fingered by injury in last week’s game. Andy Osborne had volunteered his services, probably for the last time. I hope he does not need therapy after today’s game. More on therapy later.
FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Matt Ellis, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Luke Johnson, George Kleanthous, Kypros Michael, Chisa Mkala, Patrice Mongelard, Andy Osborne, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas.
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.
Referee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Supporters (socially-distanced on the public footpath): Aaleya Hawker, Natasha McCartney, Claire Mills-Skinner, Lorna Stewart.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Chief Impact Officer: Phil Anthony.
I will be honest and say that Inter surprised us with the quality of their play. They took the lead deservedly after ten minutes. Paul Parsons adjudged that Andy Osborne had brought down an Inter forward in our box, and the penalty was buried by Inter. Early threats by Inter had been neutralised and Andy’s initial handling in our goal seemed assured. We equalised with the run of play after Kypros Michael lashed in a twenty-yarder, after good work by George Kleanthous. Inter took the lead again on the half-hour after Luke Johnson conceded a free kick about thirty yards from our goal in a central position. The ball was struck sweetly into the top corner, with Andy Osborne under the impression it was going wide. 2-1 at half-time was hard to take.
Mick O’Flynn’s acumen-heavy half-time talk had the desired effect because within a quarter of an hour of the restart we had equalised and edged ahead, with two penalties, both despatched with ease by George Kleanthous. George had earned the first one by drawing a foul from the keeper in a one-on-one (not unlike the first half penalty awarded to Inter). The second penalty was a result of Matt Ellis being enveloped by a double wardrobe in the Inter box. That was not the end of the penalties. Luke Johnson had a rush of blood and made what seemed a gratuitous, and dangerous, tackle on the Inter right winger in the bottom corner after he had crossed the ball into an innocuous area to Farnborough feet. The penalty was sweetly struck to make it 3-3.
At that point Phil Anthony had to come off, in a dazed state, after putting his head in the way of a cross-cum-shot. How could they tell, you might ask? These days head issues must be taken seriously. The scoring continued unabated. Matt Ellis bustled his way past two challenges to give us a 4-3 lead. Luke Johnson made an unsuccessful attempt to class Matt’s goal as an own goal.
We then had numerous situations when we could and should have edged further ahead, outnumbering the Inter defence in their box more than once, failing to find the final ball, cut-back or cross to bury them. We were to pay the price for this, with five minutes left. The flight of a speculative shot, meant as a cross I think, deceived Andy Osborne in our goal and the ball sailed tamely above his head into our net. To their credit Inter took the game to us and could have had a fifth goal with minutes left after Andy Osborne spilled a shot and three Inter players converged on it with the goal at their mercy. Thankfully, the final touch came from a defender who scooped the ball over the bar from a couple of feet out.
That was not to be the miss of the match though. In the last minute of the game a Matt Ellis free kick crashed against the underside of the Inter bar, bounced back down at the far post where Chisa Mkala and Simon Thomas lurked in splendid isolation. Chisa explained later that he missed because he leapt too soon and the ball bounced higher than anticipated. Simon had no explanation but he could have quiffed the ball into the net, if he had played a more dominant role at that point.
Inter had earned their draw. We let it slip.
It felt really good to be able to sit inside the clubhouse again. We could not remember the last time we had done this. There was even the aroma of Ollie’s pizzas, procured by the Sunday XI but as they had not over-catered, they were unable to reciprocate the generosity we had shown them last week. A few of the Inter Valley players were in the clubhouse – almost a draw. Two of them were Liverpool fans and I took the opportunity to share a couple of stories with them about Tommy Smith and Jimmy Greaves, and Frank Worthington. We had a chuckle about how Frank failed his medical, not for the ears of the young lady present at their table. Some of our players thought I was regaling them with my joke about Jehovah’s Witnesses and gonads.
That was not the only highlight of the après-match conversation. When Jay Hardy announced that he bought a Picasso I could see Simon Thomas grappling furiously with the concept of Jay as an aesthete. I had to work just as hard with the news that Simon Thomas’ Apple Watch (a clandestine match accessory) had recorded 4.93 miles, including wrist movements, I assume.
Today referee Paul Parsons made a mockery of his “Play On” nickname. He awarded four penalties in a single game, at £7.50 each I thought, as I handed over his match fee. Not a record for Paul, I understand. He once awarded four penalties to the same team in another game. In other words, look on the bright side, it could have been worse for us.
Concerned readers of last Sunday’s match report have been asking about Joe Skinner’s mental health. That is, of course, after the trauma of his own goal. I am happy to report that like Prince Harry he is seeking help and has been undergoing eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy. It is too soon to tell how successful this will be. Our Chief Impact Officer, Phil Anthony is keeping a close eye on Joe, and will be sending him some special jokes, exclusively. Andy Osborne might need some watching too, after today.
Man-of-the-Match: Simon Thomas, a revelation at right back, playing his best game for us this season. Wife Amanda wondered aloud if it was a joke, whilst daughter Daisy was delighted with the quip about Simon damaging his quiff with not one, but two headers. Simon thought that his award was a damning indictment of our current right-backs. Fair point, but his ingratitude hurts the entire management team.
Man of the match: Simon Thomas