Sunday 12th September 2021
By Patrice Mongelard
Kypros has it covered
The Bellingham Leisure Centre in SE6 3BT was a new venue for us, within kicking distance of the Catford Wanderers ground we know well. I must admit I had initially anticipated Astro-turf but was proved wrong even though the natural playing surface was several geological eras behind the Dulwich pitch that our opponents today used to call home. It was grass alright but tufty, covered by a blanket of cuttings that made it heavy and slowed the ball. Still, it was the same for both teams.
There was a bit of uncertainty about the Sunday parking charges. The broken-down ticket machines were duly photographed and some paid by phone, including Kypros Michael who informed me he had paid for a hat-trick of cars. He should have paid for the whole squad.
After concerns during the week that owing to injuries and other reasons, we would be a fielding a slimmed down squad, what Colin Mant called our Herbalife squad, we eventually mustered fourteen players. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the Herbalife Squad does not include Giles Foister.
FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Tom Girling, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, Diccon Kaenzig, George Kleanthous, Ian Lyons, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Simon Thomas
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood
Supporters: Mick O’Flynn and Patrice Mongelard
Manager: George Kleanthous
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
Chief Impact Officer: Phil Anthony
Our opponents had to supply a referee from within their ranks (in the absence of the anticipated one) and I must say straightaway what a superb job he did. He was fair, communicative, defused situations involving Michael Hills, instigated water breaks on a sultry day, and was unruffled until the very end when a fatuous remark by Simon Thomas disturbed his equilibrium. Surely, I am not alone in thinking that Simon ought to treat each game as if he was acting in a silent movie. It could do wonders for his matinee ratings.
Sanco made the better more cohesive start, took better care of the ball and it was clear early doors that they had several players who could play a bit, as they say. They probed well down our flanks but without really troubling a vigilant Tom Girling in goal. The first scoring opportunity of real note fell, as it often does, to Kypros Michael. Kypros has the knack of creating his own degree of difficulty as he wriggled clear of his markers, advanced into the box at an angle to test himself in his first one-on-one with the Sanco keeper – and rolled the ball just wide of the post. I had limited sympathy with Kypros’ mutterings that the grass cuttings had not helped. Jay Hardy came close too when he picked up a loose clearance just outside the box and was caught in two minds, whether to shoot with the keeper a little out of position, or look for a pass.
We did not have to wait long to open the scoring, after the first water break. Despite his mantra against long balls, it was one such ball from George Kleanthous that released Kypros Michael who had timed and curved his run just right allowing him to skip clear of defenders and send the keeper the wrong way. Five minutes later Kypros, again, had doubled our advantage by latching on to a Jay Hardy pass to lob the keeper.
The scoreline will have felt harsh to Sanco who had competed well and had enough quality to trouble us. Just before the half-time whistle we were caught napping at the back and a Sanco forward crept in at the far post, undetected by Colin Mant until too late, to convert from close range. They deserved that goal.
The second half was full of incident with many scoring opportunities created by both teams. The half was barely two minutes old when Sanco fashioned a very decent scoring opportunity that flashed narrowly wide. Waine Hetherington then had two long range shots that were very easy on the eye, the second one in particular drawing an excellent save from the Sanco keeper. There was not much the keeper could do in the fiftieth minute or so, as Kypros Michael was set free by Jay Hardy and stroked the ball low into the bottom corner for his second hat-trick of the sesaon.
At 3-1 up I cannot claim that we were entirely comfortable, however. In my mind’s eye I see three very good chances missed by Sanco. We had a wobbly ten minutes or so. This passage of play drew the comment from Peter Harvey to Waine Hetherington (both having been substituted by then) - “Don’t think either of the subs have done well so far”. We had Tom Girling to thank for a point-blank save of great quality – Mrs Girling please note – agility, athleticism, physical presence, lighting reflexes, strong wrist, spatial awareness all bundled together in a sublime cameo. Even when Tom was out of the equation Sanco could not capitalise. I cannot explain the miss in the seventieth minute from a yard out with our defence shredded. Moments later, a languid move by Simon Thomas with some unwise fancy footwork in a dangerous area in our box saw the ball crash into our side netting.
We needed the cushion of a fourth goal and Kypros Michael and Jay Hardy combined to deliver. Now turned provider, Kypros threaded a ball to Jay Hardy in a tight space and our twinkle-toed ginger dynamo did the rest with a smart finish in the top corner – keeping up his record of scoring in every game this season. There was one final frisson in the game when Simon Thomas offered the referee some advice on when to play the advantage.
Readers will note this report is shorter than usual. The match day rituals could not be observed in full as there was no après-match experience – no bar, no food, no analysis. There was some baiting of a Spurs fan by a mob of Palace fans which we do not need to re-live here. Next Sunday we have a new experience – a 12:30 kick-off for the first of three charity games we are playing this season.
Man-of-the-Match: Kypros Michael, on fire today, and who, like last week’s MoM, is not available for our next game.
Man of the match: Kypros Michael